The Parlement of Paris and crimes of lese majesty in France, 1328-1350
Komornicka, Jolanta N.
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Fourteenth-century France witnessed the re-emergence of an old political crime: lese majesty. Embraced by the Parlement of Paris more than by kings, it re-emerged at a time ofdynastic change and continual warfare. The lese majesty ofthe fourteenth century extended beyond simple treason or rebellion to encompass multiple offenses, including armed robbery and manslaughter. An examination of lese majesty in the context of late- medieval France finds that it reflected contemporary political and judicial theories, joining ideas of sovereignty and criminality by way of the common good and justice. These connections were largely the product ofthe Parlement ofParis negotiating its own interpretation o f and adherence to the performance o f sovereign justice. The dissertation, which examines the use of lese majesty by the Parlement of Paris during the reign of Philip VI Valois (r. 1328-1350), explores the relationships between the high judicial court, the king, other jurisdictions, and disputants; as well as the relationships between theories of crime, law, and sovereignty. Prosecuting lese majesty was an expression of a judicial culture that prized the ideals of justice and due process. Concentrating on those cases of lese majesty tried before Parlement, using the criminal and civil registers of Parlement housed in the Archives Nationales in Paris, the research engages with lese majesty as a category of crime utilized in the daily practice of trials and judgments. Through better understanding lese majesty, we gain a clearer picture of how sovereignty was conceptualized, articulated, and enacted at a transitional moment in French history.
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