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1 The Mainstream Parlementaires Who They Were and How They Got There
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Spokesmen of the Mainstream

Representative parlementaires of every "generation" in our period expressed the ongoing mainstream values—in their correspondence, in the course of their official activities and sometimes in formal speeches and in writings that ranged from literary through philosophical to polemical. A "generation" I define as a group of parlementaires who served on the court together—regardless of age—in a chronological period of particular pressure as regards the Parlement's reaction to and handling of religious policy. The chronology and methodology are explained in detail in chapter 5 (part 2), and the distinctive characteristics of each time-segment are analyzed in chapters 6-10, rather than in the present section (part 1) devoted to the


similarity and continuity of views on basic matters such as French institutions and history held throughout the century. According to this schema the generations are, first, the early generation , in office from the mid-1520s to the mid-1530s, which faced the initial challenge of the reform movement; second, the transitional generation , in office from the early 1540s to the mid-1550s, when the crown and Parlement agreed on a repressive policy but disagreed on its content and implementation; then the crisis generation , from the mid-1550s to the early 1580s, when divisions in the court crystallized into factions aligned with forces outside the Palais de Justice—notably the rival noble factions—in open civil war (the Huguenot party and the ultra-Catholic, Guise party); and finally (part 3), the later generations of the League and post-League periods (1584-1605) starting with the death of François, duc d'Alençon, the youngest son of Henri II, leaving Henri de Navarre, head of the Huguenot party, as heir presumptive after Henri III, who had no sons.

Two spokesmen of our earliest generation, Thibault Baillet and Charles Guillart, were already established as leaders in the Parlement in the early 1520s, and they were cited as models both by their contemporaries and by succeeding generations. A third, Claude de Seyssel, was never an active practitioner and he died in 1519, but his formulation, in La Monarchie de France , of Parlement's views on such matters as crown, Parlement, and constitutional tradition is generally regarded as the classic statement of prevailing thought in the higher reaches of the judiciary in the sixteenth century, especially the first half. All three were actively involved in the controversy over the Concordat—the point of departure for parlementaire thought on religious matters in the period. Their views embody the traditional consensus that would be challenged by the innovating forces of the 1520s: increased royal control, venality and the proliferation of offices in the professional sphere, and the growth of reform sentiment in the religious sphere. In other respects also these men exemplify dominant and persistent characteristics of the parlementaire mainstream in their backgrounds, in their assets to be exploited, in their careers, and in the interests and activities that brought them distinction beyond the narrowly professional sphere.

Thibault Baillet's acknowledged position was based on his probity in office and on his many years of outstanding service. When he died in 1525 at the age of eighty, he had been président for forty-three years and was called le bon président . He was a native Parisian and honored for many activities that benefited the city, such as presiding over a commission responsible for the first codification of Parisian customary law in 1508. His grandfather and father had preceded him in the office of maître de l'hôtel


du roi ; François Blanchard describes the family as one of the best connected in the court. Christopher Stocker shows that it was well established by the end of the fourteenth century, having risen through the royal financial administration under Philip VI and having acquired the seigneurie of Sceaux in the reign of Louis XI. The Baillet were allied by marriage to other leading families such as the Le Viste and the Du Drac. Thibault's first wife was Jeanne Le Viste; by his second, Jeanne de Ganay, he had a son, René, later président, and a daughter whose husband became premier président of the Chambre des Comptes, just below the Parlement itself in the hierarchy of the sovereign courts.

Baillet was entrusted with two diplomatic missions by the crown, to England and to Savoy, but these were not his main contributions. In contrast to many colleagues, Seyssel or de Selve, for instance, Baillet's distinction stemmed from his role in crucial cases like that of the maréchal de Gié (Pierre de Rohan), accused of malfeasance, and from his discharge of special assignments such as supervising the boycott against the papacy in 1523. In these cases he was the spokesman of the crown. François I is said by Blanchard to have respected him so much that "he was inspired to stand in Baillet's presence." On other occasions, however, including the crisis over the Concordat, Baillet was chosen by the Parlement to voice opposition to the king. In the touchy circumstances of the defection of the constable de Bourbon, he was charged with the task of assuring François of the court's loyalty to the crown.[14]

Typical in his background and general attitude, Baillet was outstanding in the minds of his contemporaries and immediate successors for his steadfast defense of tradition and fearless opposition to innovations that violated the rules, such as appointment of laymen to clerical seats in the court. A lawyer of the midcentury would say that of all the judges of his time he most deserved to be held in highest esteem. The inscription on his tomb, in his native parish of St-Merry, reads "homme sur tous justiciers du royaume . . . prisé et estimé lequel de son temps a pu etre nomé le plus honoré . . . de Paris . . . à l'interement duquel se trouverent tousles plus notables."


Blanchard's epitaph concludes, "suffisance de sagesse et integrité de vie . . . le bon président."[15]

Charles Guillart , another spokesman of the early generation, was also much admired, earning the description bon citoyen from Blanchard. While Baillet was a lay officer, Guillart was conseiller clerc , as early as 1482 (but the seat was laicized in 1496) and became président in 1508. From then until his resignation in 1534—as a protest against venality—he played a prominent role in national and municipal affairs, including the Concordat and the negotiations between the Parlement and the regent, Louise de Savoie, when François I was a prisoner in Madrid, 1525. He was a leader in Parlement's resistance to royal attempts to reduce its power, voicing some of the court's counterclaims, as it tried to take advantage of the regency to increase its own power. Guillart held office in the Bureau of the Hôtel de Ville, also, from 1534 on, and was succeeded as conseiller de ville by his son, André.[16]

The Guillarts had originated in Poitou. Charles's grandfather served the comte du Maine, moved to Paris in the 1480s, and laid the foundation of the family estates. The secretarial route by which they rose, carrying out special royal missions, is considered by Stocker to be the most advantageous of all the ladders. Charles was never ordained and was married twice: both wives came from prominent robe families (Tulleu and Luillier). Among his special royal assignments were the discipline of rioting students and the publication of the Concordat (to which, however, he was opposed); his standing with his colleagues is shown by the fact that he was chosen by the court to represent its opinions in the 1526 phase of the case of Louis de Berquin. Guillart's name appears frequently in the sources as a participant in processions, at entries of foreign dignitaries, and on other ceremonial occasions. He was one of the most visible members of the court, highly respected beyond the walls of the Palais and even abroad. So high was his standing that he was appointed to serve on the delegation attempting to negotiate the election of François I as Holy Roman Emperor, in 1519. All the other members were nobles and high administrative officials. Guillart's speeches on constitutional matters and high policy demonstrate what Blanchard calls his connaissance des choses du monde .

Claude de Seyssel also exemplifies most of the mainstream characteristics, even though his was not a robe family. On the contrary, he was an


illegitimate offspring of the ducal family of Savoy. The assets of this position easily outweighed any liabilities because he had immediate access to the highest level of patronage without having to work up to it, as was the usual case of robins . While in the service of the duke, he attracted the attention of Georges, cardinal d'Amboise, minister of Louis XII, and married one of the cardinal's nieces. Another advantage was a good education and access to the academic career that laid the foundation for his activity as a diplomat, first for the duke and then for the king of France.

Seyssel took degrees in law at the University of Turin and then at Pavia, where he succeeded his teacher as a member of the faculty and later became rector. He studied Greek with the great scholar John Lascaris, who began to translate the Anabasis for him in 1506. Seyssel subsequently continued the Xenophon himself and undertook also to translate Thucydides and the Greek fathers of the church. Louis XII made him a member of his grand conseil in 1498; the following year, after the conquest of Milan, Seyssel became a member of the Senate and chief administrator of the city. His diplomatic missions for Louis XII took him to most of the Italian cities and to the court of Henry VII in England. Services to Savoy were not neglected; he carried out a difficult assignment for the duke in 1508 by negotiating successfully with the Swiss who were always fearful of falling again under the rule of Savoy. His most important diplomatic assignment was the negotiation with Pope Leo X that prepared the way for the Concordat of 1516, though Seyssel himself shared traditional Gallican views. His reputation as a pacifier, which earned him the respect of opposing factions, is based on his moderation and his diplomatic skills at that time.

Traditionally, half the members of Parlement were clerics, and Seyssel's career is typical of many Renaissance prelates. He was named bishop of Marseille in 1510 but never performed his functions there (at one point the cathedral chapter elected another bishop, believing that Seyssel had died). Yet in the last years of his life, as archbishop of Turin, he reformed many abuses in his diocese, wrote a manual for the guidance of priests, and made the church an active force in the community through the founding of welfare institutions. In these respects, and in the austerity of his life-style, he is an early example of the reforming bishops associated with the Catholic Reformation. He showed considerable independence in his religious views, combining a strong stand against heresy with approval of a vernacular Bible. This last reflects his humanist orientation, which he demonstrated by translating the Gospel of Luke. His friends and correspondents included men like Lefèvre d'Étaples, Johannes Reuchlin, and Guillaume Petit, so it is not


surprising that in Paris he spent more time in the Bibliothèque du Roi than at the Palais de Justice.[17]

The careers of these three parlementaires fall wholly in the period before l'affaire des placards (1534), which marks the definitive shift in the policy of François I toward the reformers, from ambivalent indulgence to consistent repression. By the 1540s, when the repressive policy was systematized, a majority of the 1520s parlementaires had passed from the scene. Pierre Lizet's succession to Jean de Selve as premier président (1529) signaled the coming change. While Lizet and his colleagues shared some basic parlementaire views, such as Gallicanism, their preoccupation with religious dissent caused them to deviate markedly from their predecessors.

Men of traditional background nevertheless continued to hold and express traditional opinions; the difference is that they were not currently also the dominant personalities on the court. This fact differentiates the court of the 1540s not only from the earlier period but also, significantly, from the Parlements of the second half-century. I have therefore called it the transitional generation. The traditionalists or moderates of this period are well represented by the sons of two of our earlier spokesmen, René Baillet and André Guillart, and by François Olivier. Some of the most prominent of the crisis generation, including Pierre (I) Séguier and Christophe de Thou, were already on the scene, but they did not assume the lead until after they achieved the office of président—in the mid-1550s.

René Baillet became a lay conseiller in 1538 and within three years he had been appointed both premier président of the Parlement of Brittany and a member of the itinerant Paris court (grands jours ) in Poitiers. In 1550 he became maître des requêtes , prior to his nomination as président in Parlement in 1554. For a few months he held both presidencies, but as this was a flagrant violation of the rules, he resigned the Breton post. Baillet figured prominently in the trials of Anne du Bourg (1559) and Louis, prince de Condé (1560), and his respected position brought him other special assignments, where he represented the elite of the court in sensitive situations, sometimes by choice of the crown. His role as Catherine de Médicis's emissary to the court, explaining her decision to remove the king from the capital (1562), is an example. His colleagues on this occasion were Christophe de Harlay, Pierre (I) Séguier, and Christophe de Thou, who had recently become the most prestigious members of the court. The Parlement, in turn, also charged him with special responsibilities. Blanchard places him


in the parlementaire Pantheon for the pureté de ses moeurs, probité, et prudence .[18]

André Guillart , son of Charles, followed in his father's footsteps not only in his career but in his concern to build up the family property and raise its status. Arlette Jouanna's valuable article shows how his changing titles underline each upward step in the social hierarchy. In 1540 he styled himself only noble homme but by 1544, noble et puissant seigneur ; the climax came a few years later, where he refers to membership in the Parlement, the conseil privé , and the Bureau de Ville.[19] In the meanwhile he was marrying his daughters to sons of the Du Drac and Baillet families. As a result of the matrimonial policy of Charles and André combined, by the end of the century the Guillart were allied to the Hacqueville, Briçonnet, and Le Viste dynasties as well, but they did not found one in their own name. Instead, in the later generations, they became important ecclesiastics and figured prominently in the politics of the wars of religion.

André was entrusted with a major diplomatic mission in 1546, when François I sent him to persuade Pope Paul III to repudiate overtures from the Emperor Charles V, and to ally the papacy with France instead. He was successful only in the first part of this task. His letters to the king from Rome provide valuable insights into his mentalité , which was consistently mainstream. As Jouanna remarks, his very lack of originality makes him interesting. He was extremely conscientious and thorough, examining carefully the sources of his information. He had exceptional powers of analysis. Above all he was farsighted and prudent, remarking often on the necessity to préparer les événements and pointing the moral in examples of those who had not done so.

Jouanna believes that André Guillart was familiar with the work of Machiavelli because of his emphasis on ulterior motives and frequent assertions that everybody dissimulates, of necessity. His analysis of the mind and policy of Paul III, by noting slips of the tongue and repetition of certain phrases, shows both intellectual sophistication and opportunism that are worthy of the Florentine. Certain episodes in his own career are interesting in this light. After his return from Rome he was alleged to be a protégé of the Guises and to owe to them his advancement to the Conseil Privé. In


1562, on the contrary, the Spanish ambassador reported that his house was a repère des Huguenots and that he was miraculously "converted" from having been a "favorite of the Admiral" to return to the Catholic Church. It seems at least possible that André's alleged shifting allegiances, first to the Guise and then to the Châtillon and back to the crown, may have been tactical postures, assumed to fit changing royal policy and to increase his value to Catherine, yet it is a fact that various members of his family were suspect or declared Huguenots during the later wars.

The assessment by Pierre de Bourdeille, sieur de Brantôme, is of particular interest for our purposes: he blames Guillart's failure in the Roman mission on the fact that he was a mere homme de plume , rather than quelque gallant ambassadeur d'épée . Jouanna's concluding remark sums it up: "incarnation de la prudence robine, contrastant avec l'héroïsme aventureux des nobles d'épée." If, as Montaigne was later to say, "rien de noble ne se fait sans hasard," Guillart might have replied, "rien de grand ne se fait sans ménage."[20]

François Olivier was the son of premier président Jacques Olivier (1517-19) and Madeleine Luillier, daughter of one of the great robe families of Paris. François's own training had been in the chanceries of members of the royal family rather than in the Parlement itself, but he was given a presidency in the court in 1543 and made chancellor of France in 1545. He was forced out three years later through the enmity of Diane de Poitiers but was revered and often consulted by Henri II in later years. François II recalled him to service in 1559, upon the death of his father. All historians of the Parlement pay tribute to his legal skill and experience and especially to his integrity, in contrast to the qualities of Jean Bertrand, Diane's "creature" who succeeded him. Blanchard says of Olivier, "luy ne pensait à autre chose qu'à ce qui concernait la dignité du royaume et l'utilité public." Blanchard claims that Olivier's death was hastened by his distress at the exploitation of the young king (François II) par certains grands , meaning the Guise faction. Olivier died within a few days of the Conspiracy of Amboise, a revolt against Guise domination. As he refused to knuckle under to either of the court factions (Diane's or Guise's), so did Olivier refuse to be pressured into either extreme position in the religious dispute, standing firm on the law and tradition in all matters. In the increasingly polarized atmosphere of the time this made him a target for attack by both sides. We


shall see him daring to challenge Pierre Lizet on the one hand and suffering accusations from the Huguenots on the other. His speech as chancellor, in the first séance royale of the reign of Henri II, was often quoted by later generations.[21] Édouard Maugis regards Olivier as one of the greatest representatives of parlementaire values at their best.[22]

Although the pressure of events was certainly no less in the late 1550s and 1560s—France was plunged into a civil war that would last more than thirty years—the leadership of the crisis generation had been recaptured by the traditionalists, under the direction of Christophe de Thou, premier président, during the two fateful decades, 1562-82, flanked by other outstanding mainstream representatives. The midcentury crisis was brought about by royal moves threatening to the institutional integrity of the Parlement and to some of its most central concerns, where politics became entangled with religion.

In 1548 Henri II established a special court for heresy cases, ominously nicknamed la chambre ardente , and staffed it with ultra-Catholics. For the traditionalist center group its existence was the source of contradictory feelings: although they were increasingly opposed to and fearful of heresy, they resented a special jurisdiction that violated their autonomy and diminished their traditional role as guardians of the church. The Chambre Ardente itself ceased to function after 1550, and the treatment of heresy in the Tournelle (a chamber that was charged with criminal cases) was conspicuously less severe than in the Grand' Chambre. Thus divergences of opinion among parlementaires, formerly mere tendances that surfaced occasionally, were brought into the open and hardened into factions and eventually into civil war.[23] Henri II leaned so far in the ultra direction that he proposed the establishment of "inquisitors of the faith" similar to those in Italy and Spain, to facilitate the repression of heresy and make it more efficient.

Parlement blocked the realization of this plan, which would have violated


not only the "liberties of the Gallican church" but also the crown's own judicial powers.[24] The situation was doubly ironic for the ardently royalist parlementaires: they were obliged to oppose the crown's religious policy in order to defend the crown's judicial integrity, and to oppose the most zealous defenders of their own faith (the ultras)—and expose themselves to accusations of favoring a faith they greatly feared—in order to defend the national religious tradition, that is, Gallicanism.[25]

The opposition of the moderates to the ultra advances of the 1550s was first and most explicitly expressed by Pierre (I) Séguier , président in the Tournelle. He led the Parlement's resistance to the violation of lay jurisdiction in 1555 and to the Inquisition in 1557. An episode during March 1559 precipitated open schism in the court: the decision of the Tournelle in the case of three heretics that converted a death sentence of the Grand' Chambre to mere banishment. The ensuing uproar demonstrated the need for a clarification of policy, in a special type of session (called a mercuriale because it always occurred on Wednesday) that dealt with Parlement's internal discipline. The purpose of the mercuriale of June 10, 1559, the most infamous in French history, was to eliminate the conflict between the chambers.[26]

The Séguier dynasty was among the most prolific and most prestigious in the ancien régime. The six sons of Pierre I were all magistrates, and by the 1780s there had been no less than sixty-eight Séguiers in ten generations in the Parlement, not to mention innumerable cousins and in-laws with other surnames.[27] Pierre I, the son of a minor officeholder, began to practice at the Paris bar when he was very young. By the time he was appointed to a presidency, in 1554, he had been pleading before the court for thirty years, during which time he held the influential office of avocat du roi, first in the Cour des Aides and then in the Parlement itself. He was repeatedly named to special commissions and became deeply involved in the affairs of some


of the powerful families at the top of the social hierarchy, including the house of Montmorency. Richet shows that the large fortunes of leading robe families were accumulated through such client relationships and were subsequently invested in offices, lands, tax farms, and rents . Richet estimates, for example, that between 1550 and 1580, Pierre I monopolized the collection of taxes in ten parishes of the Paris region, at a profit of 18 to 20 percent. The family estate was built up in small lots over time, by methods similar to those of a petit bourgeois. In Richet's opinion, this micro-conquête has not been sufficiently recognized by historians. Nor did Séguier's near-contemporaries emphasize it: Blanchard reports that he earned his high reputation by "singular virtues, testifying to his integrity, diligence, and piety." His colleagues at the bar regretted his departure in 1554 but were proud that the king had chosen to honor him with high office. The municipal government had already expressed special confidence in him by retaining Séguier to represent the interests of the city in Parlement as early as 1532, when he was only twenty-eight years old. In humanist circles outside the court, Séguier was thought to be the leader of the liberals, opposing both the ultra faction of the cardinal of Lorraine and the opportunist manipulators who were the protégés of Diane de Poitiers. Scévole de Sainte-Marthe pays tribute to his probity, his adherence to tradition and discipline, and his incorruptibility as a judge.[28]

In his early public stands against the ultras and the Inquisition, Séguier was seconded by Adrien (II) Du Drac , a well known and consistent member of the moderate-traditionalist group. The Du Drac had risen with the Burgundian party by the ladder of financial administration. Adrien I had become a conseiller in 1513. His son, Séguier's associate, Adrien II, was a secrétaire du roi in the chancellory and held a royal secretarial post before being named conseiller in the Parlement in 1535. Both were active in the Bureau de Ville, as were their in-laws. Du Drac was called upon by the crown, for instance, to serve on important commissions, including one responsible for maintaining law and order in the city, another to sit on the jury to judge the life-or-death fate of the prince de Condé, and, most pressing, to formulate (and criticize) the Edicts of Pacification punctuating the early civil wars.[29]

Christophe de Harlay was even more intimately associated with Séguier,


holding the other presidency in the Tournelle. He undertook to justify the moderate parlementaire attitude toward heresy in 1559 and served among the judges of the "suspect" members in the same year. He was a member of many parlementaire delegations to the crown and, like Séguier, was accused (by the ultras) of being in the pocket of Montmorency. The constable's loss of influence after the death of Henri II exposes accusations of this kind in the 1560s as propaganda tactics of the Guise faction. Harlay was admitted to the court as a lay conseiller following a special examination in 1531 and granted a presidency in 1556. Although Christophe was the first of the family to enter the robe, the Harlay were an old Parisian family and had held municipal offices for several generations. The dynasty he founded rose rapidly to the top of the pyramid. His son, Achille, in whose favor he resigned his presidency in 1572, married the daughter of Christophe de Thou and succeeded his father-in-law as premier président ten years later. He would preside over the court all through the later civil wars and the reign of Henri IV. Of Christophe de Harlay Blanchard says that he was "equitable dans ses jugemens, sage, prudent, ses discours pleins de douceur et de courtoisie." These qualities were ably displayed by his sharing the moderate views toward the Huguenots with Séguier throughout his career, and his eloquent defense of them to Catherine and the royal court at St-Germain, and to the pope in the examination of Paul de Foix's record at the 1559 mercuriale .[30]

The indisputable leader of the mainstream and of its elite core, and its most authoritative spokesman, was Christophe de Thou himself. Like many robe families from the bourgeoisie of the Orléanais, the de Thou were introduced to the milieu of Parlement through a relative by marriage, in this case, Jacques Viole. Augustin de Thou, Christophe's father, was a man of ability and became a président in 1544. His wife, Claude de Marie, belonged to prestigious robe families on both sides. Christophe's spectacular career began at the Paris bar when he was eighteen, as a protégé of Pierre Lizet, avocat du roi (shortly to become premier président), according to de Thou's biographer, though he produces no proof of the assertion. If true, it testifies impressively to Christophe's independence, since his views on key matters—like Roman law versus customary and religious policy—contrasted sharply with those of Lizet, as did his even-handed leadership of the


court contrast with Lizet's partisan stand with the ultra faction.[31] In the case of an infinitely more powerful patron, the cardinal de Lorraine, the obligation is acknowledged in de Thou's own words: "I can never adequately repay what I owe to your house," he wrote to the duc de Guise in the 1550s.[32] He probably did owe his nomination as président in 1554 to the cardinal, to whom he dedicated his first scholarly work, La Coutume du Vermandois . Other powerful patrons were members of the rival noble faction, even the constable himself, in whose service de Thou acquired his impressive fortune. In later years he would gain even more powerful patronage as chancellor of the dukes of Orléans and Alençon.[33]

Séguier and de Thou obtained their presidencies in the same year, 1554, and there was some rivalry between them at first, as was natural under the circumstances for the two rising stars of the court. In the crisis precipitated by the mercuriale of 1559, however, they closed ranks and stood together as supporters of the moderate, traditional position against the pressures of either extreme party.

Blanchard says that de Thou took over the premier présidence "à la prière de Catherine de Médicis." His moderation and steadiness made him an ideal chief for the court in the difficult years ahead, when he was fired on by both sides. Even though he could not support Catherine's policy of religious toleration, he was never intimidated, even during the early years of the League, a decade later. It was then that he earned his virtually unrivaled reputation as parlementaire model, but the same qualities were already evident in the 1560s. If he could resist pressure from the factions, he could also stand up to the crown, while working for an accommodation between Catherine and Parlement. In the encounters and disagreements between de Thou and Chancellor Michel de L'Hôpital the differences between the mainstream of magistrates and an original thinker can be measured, as can the contrasting attitudes of the Parlement and the crown.[34]


De Thou's capacity for work was legendary, and his intellectual attainments scarcely less so. His passion for history is evident in all his utterances and briefs. No run-of-the-mill humanist, he had assimilated Ciceronian thought and not merely the style; his deathbed statement of faith has been called "the charter of neo-Stoicism." These pursuits were important, but they were essentially amateur activities. De Thou's scholarly reputation stems from his unparalleled knowledge of the law. La Croix du Maine speaks of his extraordinary memory and comprehensive legal learning; while historians of law down to our own time pay tribute to his contributions. These relate chiefly to the "reform," that is, the study, codification, application, and promulgation of customary law, especially la coutume de Paris , as opposed to Roman law. Earlier in the century the authority of Roman law had been increasing; Lizet had used his term in the ranking office "to reduce everything to the written [Roman] law," but after de Thou took up the task of reform, the trend was in the other direction: elements of Roman law were retained only if they "accorded with reason" and did not contradict customary law. The premier président and his associates were capitalizing on a general reaction against Rome and all its works.[35] This was not merely a negative movement, however, nor was it isolated. Rather, it was one more expression of rising French national consciousness in the latter part of the sixteenth century, parallel to the glorification of the French language: Du Bellay's Deffense et Illustration de la langue françoise was published in 1549, the redaction of the coutume began in 1555. So dominant was the ressort of the Parlement of Paris, and so successful the labors of de Thou and his associates, that their synthesis, that is, the "reformed" custom of Paris, became the common law of France. A leading authority on French law, François Olivier-Martin, describes it as "the hyphen between Roman law and modern legislation."[36]

De Thou's commitment to Paris was more than professional. He served on the Bureau de Ville as early as 1537, and was repeatedly entrusted with major responsibilities such as the supervision of public works in time of peace and the defenses of the city when war threatened. His influence in


the city surpassed that of any other nonroyal personage, with the exception of the duc de Guise in 1588—and that was a partisan and fleeting phenomenon, as de Thou's popularity was not.[37] Henri III is supposed to have said of that dramatic period, that if de Thou had been alive, the Day of the Barricades would never have occurred. This statement is plausible (even though our source is de Thou's son, the royalist historian Jacques-Auguste de Thou) because it is quite in character for Henri III.

The premier président was the acknowledged leader of the Parlement as a whole, and not merely of the elite. Gossip, fed by the envy of the excluded and the malice of the disaffected, insinuated that many of those who appeared to follow him were merely hangers-on, flattering the premier présiclent from ulterior motives. We assume that this was so, but de Thou was a shrewd judge of men. In all his major undertakings he relied on two colleagues (who were also bound to him by marriage and friendship), Bartholomé Faye and Jacques (I) Viole .

These brothers-in-law (Faye's wife was Viole's sister) were closely associated with de Thou during the twenty-five years of the work on the coutume as well as in all the crucial negotiations concerning war, peace, and religion. They had become conseillers at about the same time, Faye in 1542 and Viole in 1543. Faye had a doctorate in law from the University of Padua and a reputation as an outstanding legal scholar. He was especially influential in exposing the confusions and encrustations attached to Roman law by the commentators and glossators of several centuries, which he compared to mountains of earth and base metals that were supposed to contain gold but were often found to contain nothing when miners had wasted their efforts removing them.

Faye was the most important witness in a hearing held in 1574, at the request of Paul de Foix, as candidate for the archbishopric of Toulouse, to clear his name of the suspicion of heresy that had led to his arrest in 1559.[38] Faye was rapporteur of the testimony given by surviving participants of the 1559 debate over religious policy that had precipitated the crisis between the crown and the court. The report is notable for its comprehensiveness, its objectivity, and the quality of its analysis—for instance, it distinguishes between Lutheran and Calvinist positions, which was very unusual, even among the highly educated.


Bartholomé Faye died in 1581, not long before the premier président. His son Jacques played a determining role as a leading spokesman of the royalist-Gallican-parlementaire cause in the crucial decade of the 1580s, as we shall see. Jacques (I) Viole , member of a family distinguished in the royal service and in the sovereign courts since the reign of Charles VI, in the fourteenth century, was a member of key commissions and delegations of the crisis generation, a close associate of de Thou, Séguier, and Christophe de Harlay, the core spokesmen of the mainstream in these years.[39]

The succeeding generations of de Thou continued to hold high office and to extend their network of alliances with other great robin families. Christophe's sons were members of the sovereign courts (although historian Jacques-Auguste preferred his study to the courtroom); a daughter married Achille de Harlay, as noted, and their descendants figured in the robe aristocracy, as did other grandchildren of Christophe, as long as there was a Parlement of Paris.[40]

With the exception of specialists in legal history, students of sixteenth-century France are probably more familiar with Étienne Pasquier and through him with the magisterial mentalité than with any other spokesman of the mainstream. This is because he wrote many lively letters that have been edited and published in our own time, and it is not inappropriate, because he was the central figure of the group of learned jurists—friends and colleagues—that Donald R. Kelley describes as a "scholarly Pléiade."[41]

Details of Pasquier's family background are lacking. We know that there was a property in Brie, where Étienne spent some time, especially after his retirement in 1604, and that he was comfortably provided with worldy goods. "My father, who put all his hopes in me, heaped up gold, goods, money, and estates," thus does George Huppert translate one of the rare personal references in Pasquier's works, noting two significant facts: the Pasquier were probably an old Parisian family, and Étienne never dropped the name to substitute that of a fief, in contrast to the common habit of immigrant families as they rose in robe circles. We cannot know whether this was a personal statement about "living nobly," but we shall see that it


is consistent with his low opinion of certain attitudes and activities of those who did so. At age twenty-eight, he married Françoise de Belon, who had been among his clients; they had five sons, only one of whom followed in his father's footsteps, a pattern that reflects a trend in the period at the end of the civil wars.[42]

Nobody could have had a better preparation for a career in which leadership in the legal profession and in intellectual circles were blended. Pasquier's early education at the Collège de Presles in Paris and then at the university, brought him under the influence of Adrien Turnèbe and Pierre Ramus, and in his late teens he studied law under François Baudouin in Bourges, Jacques Cujas in Toulouse, and Andrea Alciato in Padua, making him one of the best-equipped twenty-year-olds to become a member of the Paris bar.

As sometimes happens, this quintessential representative of magistrate mentalité never held regular office in the Parlement itself, although he served three times on the circuit courts (grands jours ) deployed to bring Parisian justice to the provinces, twice in Poitiers (1567 and 1579) and once in Troyes (1583). In spite of an illness that forced him to suspend professional activity in his late twenties, he had attained prominence both as a scholar and as a courtroom lawyer by his midthirties. The first volume of the Recherches de la France appeared in 1560; his first major case, in which he represented the University of Paris against the Jesuits, took place in 1564. The verdict is usually described as a draw, because while the society retained the teaching privileges granted by Henri II in 1552, it did not obtain the incorporation into the university that it sought. This remained a burning question, entangled with the crucial issues of the later civil wars, and every major figure on the national scene was obliged to take a position on it. The case also struck the keynote of Pasquier's career—as a passionate Gallican, constitutionalist, and defender of tradition against nouveautés of all sorts.

For nearly forty years Pasquier successfully pursued his several related lines of activity. He was regarded as one of the great praticiens of the capital, a reputation he shared with his lifelong friend Antoine Loisel. His patrons included both Montmorency and the Guises. Twenty years of distinguished activity, including the grands jours , were rewarded by Henri III in 1585 by Pasquier's appointment as avocat général in the Chambre des Comptes. Throughout all these years he was also reading, studying, publishing, and becoming an important historian of medieval France.


Conversations and letters exchanged with fellow jurists, scholars, men of letters, and statesmen, which kept pace with his professional activity, made Pasquier an undisputed leader and model for contemporaries and contributed to posterity a rich source of insight into his milieu and its linkages to others. Praticien , bibliophile, scholar, historian, sparker of intellectual exchange, Étienne Pasquier was also an active "citizen of the republic," an ardent royalist and an early and consistent politique . He left the capital with Henri III when the Day of the Barricades forced the last Valois king to flee (and paid the price of his loyalty through ligueur reprisals on his family and damage to his property in his absence) and returned with the victorious Henri IV in 1594. Beginning in 1570, almost every major event in the turmoil of the later wars evoked a remonstrance , or advis , or speeches from Pasquier (sometimes anonymous) to add to the flood of polemical literature. In these the salient characteristics of his mentalité are revealed.[43]

Other members of the "scholarly Pléiade" were Claude Fauchet, Antoine Loisel, Pierre Pithou, and Louis Le Caron (Charondas). Claude Fauchet started with assets valuable for a career in the Paris robe, a grandmother who belonged to the de Thou family and a rich, successful father, Nicole, procureur général (public prosecutor) at the Châtelet, who enjoyed walks with his son through le vieux Paris , in the midst of which, on the Place Maubert, were located his considerable properties—three groups of substantial residences. Claude benefited from an apprenticeship in diplomacy when he traveled extensively in Italy and the Near East as an aid to Françrot, whose unorthodox associations, including some close relatives who were open Calvinists, broadened Fauchet's horizons. He acquired the office of conseiller at the Châtelet at the age of twenty-seven; it was thirteen years before he became second président of the Chambre des Monnaies and eleven more before he reached the summit—premier président. Problems concerning the supply and value of money were endemic in ancien-régime France because of the lack of uniformity among the regions. Civil war and the erratic policies of the crown in the late sixteenth century made the situation acute. Fauchet was the chief royal troubleshooter in these matters, in which he was not always successful, despite a talent for them.

Fauchet's heart lay with literature, however. He contributed to a volume of verse honoring Michel de L'Hôpital in 1564 and regularly frequented the library of Henri de Mesmes, the rendezvous of learned jurists; he exchanged letters and scholarly references with érudits like J.-C. Scaliger


and Bernard Du Haillan as well as his colleagues on the sovereign courts. With these he often collaborated, for instance in the field of etymology—a subject of special interest to robin historians whose methods were adapted from philology.[44]

As Kelley points out, the parallels of their research make comparisons with Pasquier inevitable. Pasquier's was the more original mind and the livelier style, but their values were the same, with Gallican liberties at the core. In the crisis of 1585, precipitated by the Bull of Sixtus V barring Henri de Navarre from the throne, Fauchet took a prominent part in a conference of Gallican leaders at Chartres. His Traité des Privileges et Libertez de l'Eglise gallicane denies the pope any authority in France, because "he is not our bishop."[45] Janet Espiner-Scott, who has made a thorough study of Fauchet's life and works, calls his career typical of the scholar-magistrate of the sixteenth century. Certainly he lacked the individuality of mind and style found in both Pasquier and Loisel. Fauchet's wealth was not typical, however, according to an inventory of his impressive Hôtel d'Assy, now part of the Archives Nationales. In addition to abundant supplies of necessities like wine and wood were luxury furniture and objects such as tapestries, paintings, books, silver, and jewelry.[46]

Antoine Loisel was a native of Beauvais and maintained an active interest in both the past history and the current condition of the city all his life. Like others of the group, he had attended the Collège de Presles in Paris prior to five years of training in the law under Cujas, starting in Toulouse and ending in Valence. Among the important bonds uniting this nucleus of scholarly jurists was their common experience of the influence of Turnèbe and even more significantly of Ramus, in their early years. Loisel must have been especially close to the philosopher, who named him—along with another former student and Parisian lawyer, Nicolas Bergeron—as an executor of his estate. Loisel also enjoyed the favor of the Du Faur family of Toulouse and the sponsorship of Baptiste Du Mesnil, the influential avocat du roi whose niece, Marie Goulas, Loisel married in 1563.

Loisel was a practicing lawyer in Parlement for nearly twenty years (1560-79). In the 1570s he simultaneously served on the legal staff of François duc d'Alençon, in company with Simon Marion and Guillaume Du Vair, Alençon's chancellor. In 1579 he was assigned to the grands jours


in Poitiers along with Pasquier. They had a very agreeable sojourn there, collaborating on a mock epic, La Puce , and enjoying the pleasures, social and intellectual, of the salon of the dames des Roches, a lively and learned mother and daughter who made Poitiers a provincial center of humanistic activity.[47]

Loisel was not a member of the committee that undertook the reform of the Paris coutume under the leadership of de Thou, but he was involved in the process as lawyer for some of those affected, including Catherine de Médicis, as dame of certain fiefs. In 1582 he was appointed to a special Chambre de Justice in Guyenne, charged with "settling problems resulting from the troubles," that is, those caused by divisions in religion, very marked in the region. The Edict of Toleration of 1577 (Poitiers) was controversial both in substance and procedurally, as the Parlement of Bordeaux resented intrusion of the new court in its jurisdiction. A supplementary edict of 1581 (Fleix) only compounded the problem.

It took the Chambre nearly two years to complete its work, following a circuit of five to seven months each in Bordeaux, Agen, Périgueux, and Saintes. Loisel's colleagues were all members of the Paris Parlement, "modéle et miroir of all French courts," including Pierre (II) Séguier, Jacques-Auguste de Thou, and Michel Hurault de L'Hôpital.[48] Loisel was then forty-six years old, and through this assignment he formed associations with younger men. Loisel's ability to function as a link between the leaders of the crisis generation and their sons and successors was unique. Without it he could never have written the "Dialogue des avocats du Parlement de Paris," a unique and precious catalog-cum-appraisal of members of the Paris bar from medieval days to the turn of the seventeenth century. Posterity also benefits from the harangues de Guyenne , which summarize "at least two thousand pleas for the king" made by Loisel during the twenty-eight months in Guyenne, and from Pasquier's letters, which kept Loisel informed of events in the capital.

Loisel's importance as a figure in the history of French law stems from his Institutes coutumières (1607). In it he applies the method learned from Cujas ("the historical school of Roman law") to the several customs of France, "bringing out the common principles so as to provide a solid base for the interpretation of what on the surface appears so confused and di-


verse." According to Michel Reulos, Loisel's style combines "abundant erudition" with clarity and "the eloquence that is essentially French."[49] A more obvious characteristic is Loisel's practical sense.

After his return to Paris in 1584, Loisel faced ten difficult years. Alençon had died, so he was obliged to find replacements for his major patron, and in the years of the League's domination he endured enforced leisure, as did other prominent royalists. As for others, the reversal came with the "reduction of Paris to its obedience," in March 1594. Henri IV appointed Loisel avocat du roi and his close friend Pierre Pithou , procureur général. Each enjoyed ten years of professional success and intellectual companionship before dying in the same year, 1604. Kelley credits Pithou with introducing philology to medieval studies, out of which grew the historical school of French law. Member of a prominent family in Troyes, Pierre inherited from his father, also Pierre, a magnificent library and the pattern of his career, combining classical and legal study. Pierre was three years younger than Loisel and they may have met under the tutelage of Ramus in earlier days. In any case, Loisel introduced Pithou to Cujas in 1555. Pierre's conversion to Protestantism in the late sixties prevented him from enjoying a normal career, and he spent some years in Basel. Nevertheless, he was in Paris on August 24, 1572 (the date of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew), when his life was saved by Loisel. Pithou subsequently abjured Calvinism—for reasons of particular interest to this study because Pithou's actions shed light on the adherence to the Roman church by many whose private spiritual views were quite unorthodox. The two friends then determined to work for national unity. While everyone in this group wrote on Gallican themes, Pithou's Libertés de l'Église gallicane is the most comprehensive and is regarded by posterity as a major statement of (parlementaire) Gallicanism, later synthesized by Guy Coquille. As one of the collaborators in the Satyre Ménippée , Pithou also contributed to the triumph of Henri IV over the League, on which the long-range fate of Gallican liberties depended.[50]

In the 1580s, however, the Gallican troops were most effectively mobilized by Jacques Faye's repeated blasts of the trumpet. In the crisis of the Day of the Barricades, he followed Henri III when the king fled Paris and subsequently served both Henri III and Henri IV as président in the royalist Parlement of Tours, while loyalist Parisian parlementaires, captives of the League, were obliged to keep silent. Like Moses, Jacques Faye did not live to enter the promised land, dying during the siege of 1590, in Senlis.


Louis Le Caron's father's family, Greeks who came to France in the fifteenth century, had made a successful adaptation. Louis's father was a royal herald and possessed a fief in the Paris region. His mother, née Valton, belonged to a robe family though not among the best known. Louis studied law in Bourges and was admitted to the Paris bar at the age of sixteen. Born the same year as Loisel, he shared the latter's devotion to Pasquier, characterizing him in a youthful poem as "Pasquier, qui à Platon fait honte!" His literary efforts lacked distinction, as he may have realized, for they ceased at the age of nineteen, with his appointment as lieutenant général of the baillage of Clermont-en-Beauvaisis, through the influence of Renaud de Beaune with Catherine de Médicis. His active career of more than thirty years was divided between the practice of law and the composition of legal treatises. Only late in life did he return to philosophy, under special tragic circumstances—mourning for a dead son.[51]

Le Caron was proud of his Greek heritage; he proclaimed it by including the name Charondas on all his works, but he was very much a Frenchman and followed his model, Pasquier, in urging scholars to mine the national past to meet present needs: "Frenchmen, you have enough . . . in your own history, without searching that of the Greeks and Romans."[52] His own most important contribution to the collective enterprise of "juridical nationalism" was the Commentaire de la Coutume de Paris which followed the publication of the Coutume itself by two years (1582) and helped to "solidify the still fluid coutume ." Romanists of later generations so admired his comparisons with Roman law that they called him "le divin Charondas."[53]

Le Caron lived until 1613, but his career as a practicing lawyer had begun in the mid-1550s. This gave him a quarter of a century overlap with the leaders of the crisis generation, who spanned the last years of Henri II and the early civil wars, including edicts of pacification under Charles IX and Henri III.[54] Le Caron's values were formed under those leaders, and they never changed. He attacked the prevalence of venality and was offended by the spectacular increase of legal business and the concomitant decline in


personal standards in the profession: "Où est le temps où il y avait si peu de procès en France qu'en la cour du Palais l'herbe reverdissait . . . où est le temps où les magistrats se recommandaient par leur vertu?" Like his models, Le Caron was an ardent royalist and suffered with other politiques under the League, when his house and library in Beauvais were looted, and was compensated by Henri IV. His respect for authority was profound and his religious opinions stood at the extreme end of the conservative mainstream; he declared himself enemi des nouveautés et des novateurs and would not hear of any accommodation with heresy.[55]

Pasquier's extensive correspondence enables us to trace the web of relationships that constituted his network of friends and associates. In the center circles of the scholarly Pléiade there were clusters of légistes like Pierre Ayrault, René Choppin, and Simon Marion, literary figures like the Marillac and the Sainte-Marthe families, scholar-diplomats like Paul de Foix and Arnauld Du Ferrier in the crisis generation and Harlay de Sancy and Pomponne de Bellièvre at the end of the century. Significantly, Protestant friends also figured, especially Christophe de Fonsomme and Claude de Kerquefinen, to whom he sent his interpretation of the whole period of the wars of religion in an important series of letters. Robins naturally predominated; parlementaire spokesmen like Faye, Monthelon, Loisel, the de Thou, Harlay . . . but also praticiens in other courts, and in the provinces. Two outstanding, a typical magistrates also were friends and correspondents of Pasquier's—Michel de L'Hôpital and Michel de Montaigne.[56]

Pomponne de Bellièvre's career belongs mainly to the reign of Henri IV, beginning in the last years of the League. His accomplishments as a diplomat and negotiator, for instance in the Peace of Vervins with Spain (1598), and then as royal administrator in the Lyonnais, eclipse his role as a président in Parlement by far. He acquired the office of chancellor in 1599. In the eyes of history he figures as one of the able men who helped to restore royal power and national unity. While sharing many of their values, he does not really represent the last generation of the parlementaire mainstream in this era of transition, when the attempt to reconstitute or resurrect pre-1559 France had not yet given way to the construction of the more centralized bureaucratic France of the seventeenth century. His contem-


porary Charles Loyseau looks back and often echoes Seyssel, but Bellièvre was a pioneer intendant .[57]

The lack of correlation between chronological age and mentalité in turn-of-the-century parlementaires is dramatized by the very dates. Bellièvre, exemplar of the future, had been born in 1529, the same year as Étienne Pasquier, while Charles Loyseau, the codifier of tradition, was born in 1564, the year that Pasquier made his reputation in the Jesuit case, at the age of thirty-five.[58] In a perceptive (and, unfortunately, never published) article, Mark Cummings illustrates the comparisons between sixteenth-century parlementaires and their successors. His principal interest is in discontinuities between the earlier and the later generations and in the differences (socioeconomic) within the court—unlike part 1 of the present study, which deals with the ongoing, consistent values in the seventy-five years between the 1520s and the early seventeenth century and focuses on the mainstream, and the (often silent) majority that followed it. Cummings's research covers a sixty-year span, 1590-1650; the course of change is most clearly shown in the years that overlap the present study, 1580-1605.[59]

Borrowing a favorite metaphor of early modern writers, Cummings calls the Parlement the "neck" of the royal administration.

Under it stood the main trunk of officialdom composed of high and lowly officers of limited status and importance. Above it were the eyes, ears, and mouthpiece of the king, the royal braintrust appointed by the sovereign to properly control the actions and responses of the rest of the body. In its position of a conduit, the Parlement accepted and mixed fresh blood from below and also operated as a staging area for those destined to go to the top. There existed only a few direct passages from the body to the head of the royal administration and the Parlement of Paris was the primary means of access (12).

Summarizing the effects on Parlement as an institution of the two revolutionary factors of the sixteenth century—venality and the drastic increase in numbers (from forty-three to over two hundred), Cummings notes that the court gradually changed "from a small close-knit body of serious jurists into an unwieldy institution . . . [that had] lost its intimacy and some


of its effectiveness through dilution, as the newer magistrates differed in values, social status, and attitudes toward the king and the law." Cummings's statistical tables show that in the seventeenth century the entering magistrates were younger, less experienced professionally and recruited from newer robe families than their predecessors. Even more significant, a sizable proportion of the most enterprising among them resigned after a period of five to eight years in order to assume high office in the royal administration. Justices of the sovereign courts had a virtual monopoly of access to the office of maître des requêtes and (subsequently) intendant; more than 50 percent were drawn from the Parlement of Paris itself. Among the results of this new view of Parlement as a stepping-stone were a weaker commitment to the court and its traditions and a greater compliance toward the crown's "violations" of Parlement's sphere—kings naturally favored supporters over opponents in distributing high offices—and a widening gap between the court and the administration, especially on political issues.

These restless temporary magistrates who kept moving up the administrative ladder and attaining the highest positions Cummings calls "Group A." It included more than a third of the members. His "Group C," by contrast, was composed of "lifers" whose careers were entirely spent in Parlement, like their sixteenth-century predecessors. "They shaped the mentality of Parlement and directed its course . . . [for them] justice and politics were indistinguishable." They constituted slightly more than half of the membership and they were able to dominate through their control over the presidencies and the Grand' Chambre. The presumption was that they were men of the Parlement, rather than men of the king. Clerical conseillers and magistrates from old families were conspicuous in this group. A middle group that is less clear-cut Cummings calls "Group B," in which there were those who would have preferred to move up but did not succeed, as well as less committed "lifers." "At a time when French sovereigns were . . . reorganizing the government to suit their purposes, Group C magistrates stood out . . . by advocating a return to a time when tradition, custom and legal precedent were faithfully observed."

Antoine Arnauld , father of the leading Jansenist family in the seventeenth century, avocat in the Parlement, well represents this category. His unqualified partisanship and eloquent expressions of loyalty to the Parlement were matched by hostility to those whom he saw as undermining—even destroying—the old values: the Spaniards, the Jesuits, and worst of all the commissaires , or royal bureaucrats. These others were "sucking pure French blood," in contrast to Parlement's magistrates "who more concerned with the public good than with their own glory . . . did not hesitate to accept


(royal) decisions even when they were diminished and wounded by them." His statements come from La Justice aux pieds du Roy , 1608. In the early 1590s Arnauld had composed two philippics against Spain and the League yet pitied les pauvres ligueurs , who were deceived by the Jesuits and bribed by the Spaniards. The magistrates, officers of the crown rather than of its temporary possessor (the king), "should be men of great virtue, great probity, and long experience. In short, they should be the exact opposite of the commissaires ." For Arnauld, the ambitious officers of Cummings's Group A were commissaires who had managed to entrench themselves in royal favor and in power.

Arnauld was animé par un sentiment national intense , driven by the desire for a reunified France to resume a leading role in Europe. Amnesty for the crown's recent enemies, if French, and rapprochement of the old nobility and the robe were conditions required for unification. The parlements alone could serve as the link between the king and the people; indeed, they had been created for that function; they alone could reunite elements of the national community that belonged together but had been tragically divided.[60]

In the "lifers" of Group C the reader will recognize the true heirs of the sixteenth-century mainstream, but whereas the earlier generations were perceived as "defenders of the ancient constitution," the later ones, in an era increasingly dominated by the crown, appeared obstructionist, antiquarian, or reactionary—and Parlement itself a backwater missed by the tide of history. Cummings's article performs the service of clarifying the confusions and contradictions of the magistrates of the reign of Henri IV and enables us to understand how Bellièvre, despite his presidency and his inclusion among the correspondents of Pasquier, is not a true spokesman of the mainstream; on the contrary, he is a good example of Group A.

If Bellièvre represented the "king's men" for whom Parlement was only a stepping-stone, the self-conscious antiquarianism of Loyseau differentiates him equally—but for the opposite reason—from the mainstream spokesmen of our latest generation, that is from those active in the defeat of the ligueur -Spanish-Tridentine offensive of the 1590s. These politique -parlementaires were divided among themselves. Some of the divisions can be related to external circumstances, notably whether they had remained


in Paris or had openly supported the crown (before 1594) from Tours or Châlons. Other, more subtle divisions require individual fine-tuned analysis, for instance of the degree of compromise with the League by those who remained in Paris.

Among those who never left the capital without totally compromising their royalist-politique -Gallican-constitutionalist position, were two exceptionally articulate men, Guillaume Du Vair, a major actor in the unfolding drama, and Pierre de L'Estoile, its astute observer and most voluminous chronicler. L'Estoile was Du Vair's senior by ten years and died ten years earlier (1546-1611 as against 1556-1621). From the 1570s on, the drama of the League dominated the lives and thoughts of both men. For both, Christophe de Thou and his associates were the model "citizens of the republic" and both upheld the tradition, sometimes by prudent silence, sometimes risking their reputation, property and—in the crises of 1591-94—their lives to do so, although Du Vair's risk was much greater because he was in the public eye. While L'Estoile's opinions were well known to the opposition, he was essentially a private person and deliberately lay as low as possible. Side by side, their two testimonies constitute an effective expression of mainstream parlementaire mentalité in the 1590s because they complement each other. In L'Estoile's Mémoires-Journaux one can follow Du Vair's actions and speeches, together with reactions to them along the entire spectrum of Parisian opinion, from the bitterest foes, the faction of the Sixteen, to the staunchest politiques , like L'Estoile himself.

Du Vair's father was a lawyer in Clermont, who had made his reputation in a case against the Jesuits and then spent some time in the service of Catherine de Médicis before he was obliged to resign, allegedly because of unorthodox religious ideas (the available sources shed no light on this allegation). Although there is no record of Guillaume's formal education, works written in his maturity show a thorough familiarity with antiquity. He may have been educated at home by tutors because his health was delicate. As a very young man he spent two or three years in the household of Alençon but found it uncongenial and returned to Paris, where he entered the circles of Turnèbe and premier président de Thou. At the age of twenty-seven he suffered the loss of his mother and his sister in close succession and began to write in a Stoic vein. In 1584 he became a clerical conseiller in Parlement and his major works—La Sainte Philosophie , a Christian interpretation of Stoicism, and La Philosophie morale des Stoïques —were written in the years immediately preceding the League rebellion. Reacting strongly to the attacks on the king and the constitution, Du Vair turned his energies and his pen to the cause of conciliation, whose most articulate


advocate he became. Predictably, Du Vair was high on the list of magistrates to be proscribed in 1591, along with premier président Brisson, but he escaped League vengeance (owing to fortunate timing) and later played a determining role in the triumph of the traditional loyalist cause. In no other contemporary source are the influence of events and the interaction between them and theory clearer than in Du Vair's various speeches. Careful analysis enables us to perceive an evolution in the politique position, from the traditional constitutional equilibrium to one in which the crown weighed more heavily and the other elements faded into the background.[61]

By comparison with the writings of Du Vair, the Mémoires-Journaux contain L'Estoile's ideas in very diffuse form. The early volumes constitute a detailed history of the League rebellion in Paris, from the politique point of view; in the later ones, the style is very different, loose and full of digressions on the weather, his books, his health, his family, his financial affairs, the gossip of Paris, and much other miscellaneous trivia, priceless for purposes of social history—and, for penetrating the mentalité of a parlementaire so representative as to be stereotypical. In relation to public events and the traditional values of the court, Du Vair in the 1590s and L'Estoile speak with the same voice.

Pierre de L'Estoile's parlementaire credentials were impeccable. In addition to a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather who were présidents des enquêtes , and a mother, née Monthelon, cousin of the de Thou, who increased her prestige in the milieu of the Palais with each of three successive marriages, Pierre's godfather was the celebrated Matthieu Chattier, a revered model of Pasquier and Loisel; his godmother was the wife of Pierre (I) Séguier. He spent his late teens in Orléans, where he was educated by Matthieu Béroald (or Bérauld), member of a family of distinguished scholars, who later became a Calvinist minister in Geneva. Pierre remained in close touch with the Béroald family all his life, and it is logical to assume that his desire to see the Roman church reformed but not broken up was influenced by Béroald in Pierre's youth, because he quotes his father as having instructed Béroald: "M. Matthieu, my friend, I leave my son in your hands, one of the most precious loans God has conferred on me, I beg you, above all, to instruct [him] in piety and in the fear of God, . . . [but] I do not wish you to remove him from this church, in fact, I forbid it. But at the same time, I do not wish you to bring him up in its abuses and supersti-


tions."[62] L'Estoile followed this injunction all his life, and his religious posture is of prime interest to us.

After legal training in Bourges, Pierre returned to Paris in 1569, at the age of twenty-three. He married Anne de Baillon, of another well known robe family, and purchased the office of audiencier in the Paris chancellory, which he exercised for more than thirty-five years. His first wife died in 1580, having borne him seven children, and the second, whom he married in 1582, added ten more. Only five were sons and none of them left posterity. Louis, the eldest, dealt his father a bitter blow when he joined the League. He was killed in battle. Most of the daughters died very young; two others defied him by becoming nuns. Of those who married, three espoused members of the Paris bar. The descendants of Anne and her husband, Jean de Poussemothe, inherited the greater part of Pierre's worldly goods, including the manuscripts of the Mémoires-Journaux . We find the Poussemothes down to the eighteenth century, but they abandoned the Parlement in favor of administrative careers, many of them ecclesiastical.

If he had known about this deviation from tradition, L'Estoile would probably have felt gloomily justified—as so often in his later years—in his pessimism and anticipation of betrayal, especially by offspring. In the years of the League rebellion, however, and until his retirement in 1601, his attention seems to have been almost entirely devoted to public affairs. Personal items are rarely to be found in the Journal d'Henri III , or in that of Henri IV until after the turn of the century. L'Estoile saw the League rebellion against the crown as the supreme manifestation of the sin of presumption, which was the root evil of the century; he believed its successive triumphs to be a certain sign of God's wrath. God permitted the seeming triumph of evil for twenty years, from the accession of Henri III (1574) to the "reduction of Paris to its obedience" in March 1594 and demonstrated His ultimate power when the just cause—of the Bourbon monarchy under the Salic law—prevailed in the end through the very agency of those who had conspired and fought to ruin it forever.

Achille de Harlay (1583-1616) appropriately stands as the climactic and


most authentic spokesman of the parlementaire mainstream in the entire period of this study. Not only was he its last premier président, holding the office for the longest time, twenty-eight years (1583-1611), a term that embraced the whole period of the second League (1584-98) with its threat to the entire system, including the monarchy and the independent existence of France itself, and also the reversal of this situation, the triumph of Henri IV and its aftermath, but, most important, Harlay's comportment, official and personal, exemplifies the model parfait magistrat , the idealized response evoked by the attacks on the court and the public's disillusionment. His activity as a praticien , his landmark judgments, his strict adherence to the rules and austere discipline, made him the awe-inspiring, incorruptible, indispensable chief, respected but also feared. His inflexibility was often resented, his occasional vituperative style even more so, but even his enemies admired his consistent fearlessness.[63]

Self-preservation necessitated his submission to arrest and imprisonment in the Bastille (by Bussy-le-Clerc, in January 1589 the first physical attack on the court) but he denounced the act even during the humiliation, and likewise during the many indignities and dangers of the next five years. In certain respects his unbending opposition to the newly restored, strong king—on such basic issues as the Trent decrees (1605)—was an even more striking exhibition of courage and his unwillingness to compromise his principles.

Bernard de La Roche-Flavin (1582-1621), more légiste than praticien , most of whose life was spent in Toulouse (while holding the office of conseiller in Paris also) is legitimately a spokesman of the mainstream through the historical importance of his very influential Treize Livres des Parlements de France (1617), the definitive codification of parlementaire values and behavior, with the greatest influence on succeeding generations of any of the many manuals.

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1 The Mainstream Parlementaires Who They Were and How They Got There
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