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By the midseventeenth century, officers of the sovereign courts could be found among the residents of all sections of Paris, but they predominated in two areas east of a north-south axis marked by the rue St-Martin and the rue St-Jacques, that is, the east end of the Île de la Cité and the Île St-Louis, and the neighboring sections of the right bank, between St-Paul and the Temple. In our period, not even the Place Dauphine yet existed, and the Place des Vosges was some years off, but parlementaire residences were already concentrated in areas adjacent to the future beaux quartiers , the right-bank parishes of St-Paul, St-Eustache, and St-Merry, and St-Andrédes-Arts on the left bank, just opposite the Palais de Justice. All were within a few minutes walk of the Palais and the Hôtel de Ville.[57] The typical house of educated, affluent Parisians was built in two sections, one facing the street and the other to the rear, beyond a courtyard. The two might or might not be connected by galleries . There were usually two floors above the ground floor, on which the salle , or common room, and the kitchen were located. The ground floor of the rear building was often a stable, and there might be a second court, or garden, beyond it. Beneath the ground floor was a cellar, maybe two, for storage of wine and other perishables. Less affluent families lived in single-section houses, with smaller rooms and stairs in the middle instead of on the right-hand side. In the sampling of inventaires après décès from which these conclusions were drawn, Madeleine Jurgens and Pierre Couperie found twenty-one single-unit houses, twelve two-unit houses with connecting gallery and eight without. The latter was the new fashion of the sixteenth century. These houses were designed for single-family occupancy, and if parts were rented, they were more likely on the upper floors, with the owners keeping the ground floor for themselves.[58]


This logical arrangement allowed the householder to transact business during the family's daily activities in the same rooms. In fact, except for the kitchen, there was little differentiation among the rooms (although some of the smaller ones are called antechambers or wardrobes in the inventories) and life was lived in public, even in a private house.[59] Ariès emphasizes the "sociability": the rooms communicated with one another. "In the same rooms where they ate, people slept, danced, worked, and received visitors." Beds were collapsible in the earlier centuries and often moved around. When the bed came to have a permanent place, the transformation "undoubtedly marks an advance in domesticity. . . . But the room containing the bed was not a bedroom because of that. It remained a public place . . . and one rarely slept alone."[60]

There were, of course, country houses as well; in Diefendorf's study, four-fifths of the royal officers included owned at least one seigneurie . Yet these eagerly sought properties, the source of officers' prestige and of considerable wealth, did not change the fact that the robin gratin was an urban aristocracy, born and resident in the city.[61] It would be difficult to imagine Christophe de Thou or Pierre Séguier participating in all the activities of the village and the countryside as naturally as did Gilles de Gouberville.

The routine of agricultural work . . . called for constant surveillance and considerable knowledge. . . . Harvests were always supervised by Gouberville himself, . . . and dancing and cider provided. . . . If special efforts were made for the occasional visit of the great, there was no attempt made to exclude the small. Thomas Drouet, fermier at Mesnil, was not only a faithful retainer, but a great good friend, and the tenants dropped in, always at dinner-time. . . . Invariably the visitor was burdened with care. . . . Falling trees, misplaced millstones, enraged stags, bolting horses, mad dogs, lightning, wolves, colic, colds, gout, rash, poverty, overindulgence, premature death: the litany of disaster is endless. Faced with crises of illness, destitution and catastrophe, the neighbors repaired to Gouberville, who responded with advice, legal aid, medical care, and short term loans. He applied poultices, he examined urine . . . he sheltered the woman 'troubled in her understanding'; he interceded for tax relief for the blind widow; he sent [servants] to look in on the woman whose drunken husband had beaten her to a pulp. . . . He went to weddings and named babies. . . .

Seigneurial immersion in the neighborhood also made possible real contributions to public order. A good deal of potential litigation went no further than the kitchen table at Mesnil. . . .


Gouberville was also a conscientious public servant. . . . He had a guerrilla's knowledge of his territory . . . he organized the transport of timber for . . . fortifications . . . allocated responsibility for the provisioning of the garrison at Cherbourg . . . checked lodgings commandeered for the quartering of troops. . . . He also organized the community to avert disaster.[62]

It seems worthwhile to quote Elizabeth Teall's account of Gouberville's activities at some length precisely because Gilles was himself a lawyer, and very much at home in provincial legal circles. This is the side of him that Huppert emphasizes: "The courtroom in Valognes is the center of Gouberville's world. His best friends are lawyers, judges, procureurs, greffiers . On a typical day he rides off to Valognes early in the morning, spends the morning in court, and has lunch with the avocat du roy , the procureur du roy and other officiers. " This is only the first part of a busy three days of mixed business and socializing that involve Gouberville in "an invisible network of alliances," which runs "from the country estates to the various royal bureaux , from the clubby, small-town élection of Valognes to the grandeur of the Rouen Parlement."[63]

The Paris robin who has acquired an estate in the country can plug into the legal and financial aspects of this network, and he may contract some alliances with neighboring seigneurs, who may or may not be robins also. He will certainly exercise functions that are necessary to his gentry status, but country living itself is chiefly a symbol of that status. As Huppert says in the preceding chapter, "To show his open contempt for commerce the man who would live nobly . . . makes much of la vie des champs."[64]

In Pasquier's correspondence we find both romanticizing of country life (still a common feature of Parisian mentalité in the late twentieth century) and a realistic recognition of where his heart, and his treasure, really lie. He admits that he quickly becomes bored and restless in the country:

when I first arrive here, the fields arouse my spirits, but two or three days later I am back to normal. Trees don't talk. Therefore I find myself taking refuge in my books. . . . [He tells another friend that the pleasures of the country should be no more than a "parenthesis," and as for hunting, he claims to do] more in a quarter of an hour in my study than you in whole days out in the fields. [Moreover, the friendships and human exchanges] we acquire [in the city] daily . . . cannot be found in the country.[65]


Perhaps these two "voices" of Pasquier are expressions of the ambivalent, love-hate attitude of many parlementaires toward the nobility and the pros and cons of living nobly. For Pierre de L'Estoile, however, the quintessential Parisian, there are no such conflicts. He left the city only once—to attend to necessary business at his estate of Gland—in the thirty-six years of the Mémoires-Journaux . On Monday, September 18, 1606, having decided to spend some time and taking all the family, he chose some books "to pass the time there." The list is headed by the Bible, "the book of books, which should always march first," followed by the Beneficio Christi , several books of prayers, Du Plessis-Mornay's Discourse on Life and Death , and Savonarola's Meditations . For secular reading, he chose "un petit Horace," Du Bartas's La Semaine , and Charles Étienne's Maison rustique , "appropriate for the country." He also took two of his own handwritten volumes, one "a mixture of good and bad," the other entitled "'Drolleries de la Ligue,' marked A, which is blank, to transcribe some curious things from a book I'm taking along."[66]

The entries in the Mémoires-Journaux between his departure for Gland (September 22) and his return (November 7) deal with books bought and sold, the weather, new polemics between the Venetians and the papacy, the harassment of Parisian Huguenots, and the processions of the new Catholic reform groups, especially the Capucins and Capucines, "who call themselves daughters of the Passion and wear crowns of thorns; their rule is called the most stringent of all, which means the most exalted in the folly and emotional excess." All these events were taking place in the capital. The majority of the entries deal with deaths in Paris, including that of René de Beaune, archbishop of Sens, whom L'Estoile defends from the charge of heresy (because he allegedly questioned the doctrine of purgatory—but probably even more because he had rallied to Henri IV while the League still held the loyalty of a large part of the clergy in the 1590s). There is no glowing account of the tranquillity of spirit in the country, even as a "parenthesis," such as figures in Pasquier's letter to Loisel of October t, 1605, "I live with a spirit in repose, not burdened with business, controlled by nobody but myself, seeing no discontent in the faces of my companions, far from all the news, good or bad, that usually tyrannizes over our minds."[67]

The comfortable life-style of the upper-crust robin is revealed in the


inventory of Claude Fauchet's estate. Aside from stores of wine, food, wood, and all essential supplies there were paintings and tapestries, books, finely crafted furniture, a room designated as the master's study, another as the children's room, a gallery overlooking the courtyard equipped for outdoor dining. In the numerous chests were an abundance of linen, silver, and jewelry.[68]

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