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Despite luxury and material evidence of success, it is noteworthy that the guardians of the parlementaire self-image like Loisel, La Roche-Flavin and Blanchard mention wealth and valuable possessions only to deprecate them. Loisel's listing of models, Blanchard's epitaphs, and La Roche-Flavin's prescriptions all speak of "prudence," "modesty," "austerity," "simplicity," while the attitude most emphasized and always praised is "subordination of private interest to public duty." Self-discipline, plain living, and attention to duty allow little time for recreation, which—in these exaggerated, eulogistic accounts—consists of elevated thought and conversation, or reading of the classics.

One aspect of robin pride was a strong belief in heredity. Loyalty to one's family emphasized loyalty to its values, and the heritage of parlementaires assigned a high place to the traditions of the court. Hence the ritualistic, even stereotypical character of parlementaire appraisals of one another in numerous anecdotes, and especially epitaphs, recurs in identical terms applied to different individuals throughout the generations. Mical Schneider's study of writers on the magistracy who were légistes discloses the same self-image, except that its formulation was inevitably more schematized. Légistes thought in terms of codes and rules classified in "chapters"; their works are treatises, or collections of arrêts , or codifications of pratique , with all the human elements left out. La Roche-Flavin's popularity (by comparison with other compilers of manuals) probably derives in no small part from his examples of real judges acting in real situations, putting flesh on the skeleton of the judicial ideal.

Most of the important légistes held nominal offices in the parlements , as a sign of honorary recognition by the crown, even though they may never have practiced. They were in a position to straddle two worlds, that of legal, philosophical abstraction on the one hand and of the Palais de Justice on the other. More at home in the study, they nevertheless under-


stood the salle des pas perdus , with its wrangling factions and ambitious families on every rung of the judicial ladder, those at the bottom struggling to rise and those at the top sparing nothing to maintain or enhance their position acquise . Between them, the légistes and the praticiens created a "national judiciary" for France, in Schneider's words. Articulation of their ideals and descriptions of their models were important elements in this achievement, to which both the légistes and the practitioners made a contribution.[69]

The unique double function of the praticiens , especially in the Parlement of Paris, emerges in Michel Reulos's analysis: "ils font la loi et sont même comme [les senateurs romains] la loi vivante. . . . La coutume comporte des lacunes, il faut les combler au moyen d'autres textes coutumiers, d'arrêts de la Cour dont on essaiera de dégager l'ésprit." This constitutes une véritable activité législative , complementing the work of the theorists. The synthesis of Guy Coquille, L'Institution du droit français , published in 1607, enriched by Loisel's appendix to the first edition, constitutes the crowning achievement of the sixteenth-century praticiens . The historian cannot help but regret the omission of "opinions" to explain the sentences, which makes it necessary to resort to extralegal sources such as diaries, letters, speeches, and manuals.[70] It is striking that the ideal presented even by the légistes is that of the judge on the bench. The perfect magistrate is not a closeted scholar but an active "citizen of the republic," like a Roman senator, as well as a loyal subject of his king. The persistent measurement of successive generations against the same unchanging ideal resulted in the glorification of civic virtue and the condemnation of all forms of egotism and self-serving action—tirelessly buffing the positive and excoriating the negative side of the parlementaire self-image.[71]

The views of others turned more to the negative and tended, unfairly, to exaggerate both the ideal and the lapses, as if every statement of the former were hypocritical and every dereliction a betrayal. The traditional (medieval) view showed lawyers as self-serving, "tricky," untrustworthy, avaricious in exploiting the difficulties of others, and given to a jargon that complicates those difficulties (it survives to the present day). Fifteenth-century satire emphasized the gap between haute and basse justice , making the former its special target and sympathizing with the "justifiable complaints of the little man against les grands. " Lawyers were often not needed


in basse justice , where small claims predominated and the judge was likely the local seigneur, known and trusted, noted in the case of Gouberville. As the most prestigious parlementaires acquired estates, lawyers came to be seen as parasites who oppressed the countryside, reflecting the fact that the villagers had a much greater exposure to Parisian lawyers than in earlier periods.

Some major French writers contributed to the negative reputation of the legal profession. Clément Marot's "Blason du bonnet carré" compares the world of the Châtelet to Hell,

Là sans argent povreté n'a raison,
Là, se destruit mainte bonne maison.

Étienne Dolet carries on the theme in "Le second enfer." Rabelais's Bridoye, perhaps the masterpiece of the genre, "caricatured judge," uses jargon that mixes pseudolegal learned Latin with vernacular nonsense. But the quintessential bourgeois is surely Panurge, according to an authority on anti-bourgeois satire: "sans Pantagruel, abandonné à lui-même, Panurge eût été légiste, avocat, ou greffier." "Prefiguring the bourgeois gentilhomme, [Panurge] is the link between the middle ages and the classical age . . . while simultaneously retaining his own individuality . . . in his own century." In his study from which these citations are drawn, J. V. Alter notes that lawyers were the only established professionals to be more frequently and more sharply satirized in the sixteenth century than earlier. Significantly, they shared this attention with the financiers, whose visibility was newer and even more conspicuous.[72]

In contrast with earlier works, Renaissance satire attacked the moral lapses of individuals, rather than the legal profession—except venality, an automatic target that made even some of its beneficiaries uncomfortable. The numerical increase of lawyers did not escape attention either. Both the number of chambers in Parlement and the numbers of présidents and conseillers doubled in the course of the century and that of maître des requêtes rose from eight to two hundred. The chronic void of the royal treasury was, of course, the main reason.[73]

Among the personal vices featured in sixteenth-century satire of lawyers, the most frequently mentioned is orgeuil , that is, usurpation of pow-


ers, rights, that one has no claim to, violating the natural order of things, displaying what the Greeks called hubris and considered the supreme sin. "Presumption" is probably the most accurate English rendering (used by the translators of Montaigne). Orgeuilleux is a word the parlementaires themselves often used disapprovingly for those who were overambitious, guilty of excess, and especially those who produced transparently false genealogies, making themselves ridiculous in the eyes of the populace as well as those of the old nobility. A sinister variation of orgeuil was the exploitation of the king's financial dependence on his wealthy creditors, whose privileges eroded his power, abusant de la confiance de la couronne , virtually tantamount to treason in extreme cases.[74]

Avarice was hardly a new vice to be attributed to lawyers, but in the sixteenth century there was a strong emphasis on the fact that avarice spawned dishonesty. Justice for the poor, as noted, was believed to be very different from justice for the rich. In Henri Baude's "Testament de la Merle Barbeau," which ridicules the Parlement from the clerk to the premier président, the climactic prediction in a satirical almanac is, "the Parlement will render honest justice this year, contrary to usual custom." Lawyers are perceived as avoiding honest, respected labor. They are unproductive and live off the substance of others. All they can do is talk, most of the time about nothing, and what they say causes confusion, trouble—and expense—for others. Indeed, only another lawyer can understand what one of them says. Fictional devils in Renaissance literature use legal jargon and are often described as wearing the robe longue .[75]

The accusation of idleness is ironic in view of the parlementaire obsession with work and their cherished ideal of public service. A chasm was opening up between the proliferating professionals, amongst whom lawyers were most numerous, and the rest of the working community. Heredity rather than skill came to be emphasized and the notion of a "fourth estate" began.[76]

A new vice attributed to lawyers in our period directly reflects the increased numbers of parlementaires-seigneurs , especially visible in the Paris region. This was lâcheté , lack of proper zeal in bearing arms. The attitude of André Guillart, repudiating the use of force during his embassy to the papacy, mentioned by Jouanna, is a good example of parlementaire mentalité in this respect, as is the accomplishment of Jean Jouvenal des Ursins in which Loisel exulted—"all by himself in one week, he achieved more


than ten thousand men of war."[77] So far from being signs of laziness or cowardice, in parlementaire eyes these were instances of the robin virtues, reason and love of peace. It is understandable, however, that others would interpret aversion to the chief noble occupations on the part of those who pursued noble status so assiduously, as cowardice, or, at least, as hypocrisy. A genuine difference in values existed here.

Parlementaires thought mock war as recreation a stupid waste of time; they scorned violence as an irrational method of settling disputes and feared it as a threat to social stability. But they did not equate either war-games or criminal violence with serious war, that is, French military action, commanded by the king, against a foreign enemy. Wars against the enemies of France were good—a nationalistic twist to the old notion of the "just war"; French victories were glorious and well deserved; French defeats stimulated patriotic support, with erstwhile domestic adversaries closing ranks for the duration. The rally of the parlementaires to Louise de Savoie in 1525, when François I was a prisoner in Madrid, is a striking instance; the guerrilla warfare against her stemming from the Concordat was simply suspended.

Philosophers discussed war in the abstract, and Christian humanists like Erasmus and More had denounced it as contrary to Christ's teachings, but to everyone else wars were specific, particular: the Hundred Years War, the War of Parma. Parlementaires, who believed that France was God's chosen land and that their court was the successor to the Roman senate, were the chief formulators of nationalist propaganda in the successive crises of the century. They could see no necessary connection between violence in other contexts and war in defense of France. Nor was this view restricted to the robe. J. R. Hale draws our attention to the fact that linkage of the ordinary forms of violence with war was new. "Person to person . . . person to property . . . and group violence were all too familiar. . . . What was new was a growing tendency to link them all to war and to see war as infecting society with them. . . . The sixteenth century learned to associate personal aggressiveness with war partly through the image of the mercenary, a sexual swashbuckler, killing for cash and indifferent to the justice of any cause." This in turn gave rise to "the fear that [the soldier] would become habituated to violence." Future generations would see war, rebellion, and criminality as variations of violence, but our parlementaires did not.[78]

Medieval satire had included lack of piety as a general bourgeois vice,


but it was not featured in sixteenth-century attacks on the legal profession. Alter suggests that a lukewarm, conventional approach to religion, derived from humanism, had come to be accepted in the educated classes, and we have noted the distaste of mainstream parlementaires for any display of religious zeal.[79]

In the era of the League, however, indifference became a subject of reproach, and even hostility. L'Estoile records examples of public humiliation of leading members of the court and their wives by their parish priests—from the pulpit—based on their reputation for lukewarm religious sentiment, assumed from the austere and undemonstrative nature of their faith. When extremes prevail, both sides condemn the middle way.


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