The Institutions of France under the Absolute Monarchy, 1598-1789, Volume 1

Society and the State

Roland Mousnier

The Institutions of France under the Absolute Monarchy, 1598-1789, Volume 1
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Roland Mousnier

Translated by Brian Pearce
804 pages | © 1979
Cloth $90.00 ISBN: 9780226543277 Published November 1979
Political and administrative institutions cannot be understood unless one knows who is operating them and for whose benefit they function. In the first volume of this history, Mousnier analyzes such institutions in light of the prevailing social, economic, and ideological structures and shows how they shaped life in 17th- and 18th-century France. He traces the changing role of monarchical government, showing how it emerged over two centuries and why it failed.

In a society divided by hierarchical social groups, conflicts among lineages, communities, and districts became inevitable. Aristocratic disdain, ancestral attachment to privileges, and autonomous powers looked upon as rights, made civil unrest, dislocation, and anarchy endemic. Mousnier examines this contention between classes as they faced each other across the institutional barriers of education, religion, economic resources, technology, means of defense and communication, and territorial and family ties. He shows why a monarchical state was necessary to preserve order within this fragmented society.

Though it was intent on ensuring the survival of French society and the public good, the Absolute Monarchy was unable to maintain security, equilibrium, and cooperation among rival social groups. Discussing the feeble technology at its disposal and its weak means of governing, Mousnier points to the causes that brought the state to the limits of its resources. His comprehensive analysis will greatly interest students of the ancien régime and comparativists in political science and sociology as well.
Introduction: What Are Institutions? How Can They Be Studied?
1. The Social Structure of France under the Absolute Monarchy
1. The Social Structure as Seen by Some Contemporaries
Charles Loyseau and the society of orders
The duc de Saint-Simon and the transition
Domat and the transition
The transition to class society completed: Barnave
2. The Society of Lineages
Lineage, marriage, lineal property
Lineage, house, family
The livre de raison
Some great lineages
Problems of marriage: Misalliance, abduction by seduction
The decrees of the Council of Trent
Lineage and property
Propres, lineal property
The retrait lignager
Customary reservation
Fiduciary substitutions
Parage and frérage
Customary laws of property in southern France
The domestic communities
Tacit communities
Other types of community
The decline of the communities
The ménage breaks free from the lineage
The ménage
The omnipotence of the paterfamilias
The maison
3. The Society of Fealties
The relationship between master and fidèle
The relationship between protecteur and créature
From fealties to the relationship between subject and state
Fealty and feudalism
4. The Society of Orders: The Nobility
Armorial bearings
The order of the nobility
The quality of being noble
The degrees of nobility
The privileges of the nobility
Investigations of claims to noble status
"Point of honor" and the duel
The Tribunal du point d'honneur
The social standing of the nobility
How many nobles?
The social degrees of the nobility
The court nobility
The provincial higher nobility
The nobelesse de robe
The middle and petty gentilhommerie
The nobles' means of living
The fortunes and incomes of the nobles
A commercial nobility and a military nobility
The unity of the order of the nobility
The divisions in the order of the nobility
5. The Society of Orders: The Ennobled and the Bourgeois "Living Like Nobles"
Traitants, partisans, financiers
The "men of talent," officeholders
Minor officials
The "noblemen of letters"
The wholesale merchants
The holders of decorations
6. The Society of Orders: The Common People
The "bourgeois"
The "estates" of the bourgeoisie
The manual workers
In the towns
In the countryside
The poor
7. The Society of Orders: The Order of the Catholic Clergy
The law of the ecclesiastical order
The ecclesiastical hierarchy: The secular clergy
The ecclesiastical hierarchy: The regulars
The privileges of the clergy
Ecclesiastical jurisdiction
The property of the Church
Collation to benefices
Conditions for obtaining a benefice
The financial obligations borne by benefices
The liberties of the Gallican Church
The relation between the clerical order and society
The numbers of the clergy
The relation between the degrees of the clerical order and the hierarchy of orders and estates in society as a whole
The recruitment of bishops
The recruitment of abbots and abbesses
The recruitment of vicars general
The recruitment of canons
The recruitment of parish priests
The income of the clerical order
The bishoprics
The monasteries
The income of the parish priests
The poor priests
The hermits
Financial obligations
The life-style of the clerical order
The first half of the 17th century
The recovery, from the middle of the 17th century to the middle of the 18th
The seminaries
Results of training
From Christocentrism to anthropocentrism (from the end of the 17th century to the end of the 18th century)
Conflicts between ecclesiastical "estates"
The political organization of the clergy in France
The origin of the system of representation
The General Assembly
The agents general
The receiver general of the tenths
The diocesan and provincial organs
The financial functioning of these organs
The political functioning of these organs
The Assembly's participation in royal acts
8. The Society of Orders: The Protestant Order
Religious organization
Organization of justice and administration
Political and military organization
The demolition of the political and military organization
The destruction of the Protestant order
From the Revocation to the Revolution
9. The Society of Orders: The Jews
10. The Society of Corporations
The corporations of royal officials
The corporations of auxiliaries of justice
The advocates before the Paris parlement
The advocates before the king's Council
The attorneys (procureurs) before the Paris parlement
The notaries attached to the Paris Châtelet
The tipstaffs (hussiers) and bailiffs (sergents)
The "officiers de police" or domanial officials
The universities
The Académie française and other royal academies
The medical corporations
The communities of arts and crafts
The different categories of craft
The organization and functioning of the sworn crafts
The commercial corporations: The East India and other joint-stock companies
11. The Territorial Communities: The Seigneuries
The legal position of seigneuries
The hierarchy of the seigneuries
The law of fiefs
The law of censives
The forms of ownership surviving from serfdom: Domaine congéable (convenant), quevaise, complant
Leases for ground rent
The law of seignorial powers of justice
The actual situation of the seigneuries
The number and extent of the seigneuries and the presence of the seigneurs
The functioning of the seignorial sourts
The relations betwen the seigneur and his men
Seignorial and feudal exactions
The seignorial reaction
The king and the seigneuries
Seigneurie and society
Individual property and state property
12. The Territorial Communities Treated as Corporations: Villages and Parishes
The community
The parish
The t
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