chapter  11
The genesis of the crisis
Pages 22

The period from March 1730 to December 1732 gave rise to particularly troubled relations between the crown and the magistrates of the Paris parlement. The drama of the situation rivals that of the crisis over the refusal of the sacraments from 1752 to 1754 and the opposition to royal policy in 1787-8. The lengthy crisis began with a lit de justice in which the papal Bull Unigenitus was registered as a law of state. As the courts began to wage a running battle against the status of the Bull, numerous royal decrees in council quashed parlementary rulings or evoked cases before the council. In 1731 alone there were no fewer than three sets of remonstrances, with a fourth set of iterative remonstrances; in September 1731 the courts defiantly voted an arrêt reminiscent of royal legislation, that stated their view of the gallican maxims of state. It was, of course, immediately annulled by the council of state, but not before its illegal publication. From November 1731 until January 1732 the parlement struggled to be allowed to debate the royal decision, and in a dramatic gesture fifty magistrates journeyed to Marly to petition the King in person-but were refused access. In May 1732, after the courts had repeatedly defied royal commands not to deliberate upon a mandement issued by the archbishop of Paris, two counsellors were arrested. This provoked a judicial strike in which the magistrates were joined by the barristers. When, after the end of the strike, the parlement still condemned the troublesome mandement, four magistrates were sent into exile, which led all members of the seven chambers of the enquêtes and requêtes to resign their offices. Their resignations had hardly been withdrawn before the parlement issued another set of remonstrances. The royal response was harsh. A disciplinary declaration was issued, and registered in a lit de justice at Versailles on 3 September 1732. The parlement still refused to recognise it, and 139 counsellors were exiled until 11 November. Although the affair ended with a compromise in December, the conduct of judicial business had virtually ceased for several months, royal authority had

been openly challenged and the King had resorted to what some called despotic acts. The pattern was to become a familiar one during the last decades of the regime. A chronological table of the most important events in the dispute is provided in Appendix 3, pp. 326-7.