Lawyers and Citizens: The Making of a Political Elite in Old Regime France

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Oxford University Press, 1994 - History - 280 pages
Among the men who rose to power in France in 1789, lawyers were heavily represented. To a large extent, they also shaped the evolution of French political culture of the ancien regime. Lawyers and Citizens traces the development of the French legal profession between the reign of Louis XIV and the French Revolution, showing how lawyers influenced, and were influenced by, the period's passionate political and religious conflicts. David Bell analyzes how these key "middling" figures in French society were transformed from the institutional technicians of absolute monarchy into the self-appointed "voices of public opinion", and leaders of opposition political phamphleteering. He describes the birth of an independent legal profession in the late seventeenth century, its alienation from the monarchy under the pressure of religious disputes in the early eighteenth century, and its transformation into a standard-bearer of "enlightened" opinion in the decades before the Revolution. Lawyers and Citizens also illuminates the workings of politics under a theoretically absolute monarchy, and the importance of long-standing constitutional debates for the ideological origins of the Revolution. It also sheds new light on the development of the modern professions, and of the French legal system. Based on extensive primary research, this study will be of interest to historians and legal scholars alike.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
1 The World of the Law
21
2 Building an Independent Profession
41
3 A Sort of Absolutely Independent Little Republic at the Center of the State
67
4 The Seminary of Publicists
105
5 The Profession Transformed
129
6 The Vanguard of Reform
164
Conclusion
195
Notes
217
Bibliographical Note
271
Index
273
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

David A. Bell is at Yale University.

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