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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

The Parliament of Rennes gave in their resignation in a body


Three

years later, in 1767, the King of Spain, Charles III., less moderate than the government of Louis XV., expelled with violence all the members of the Society of Jesus from his territory, thus exciting the Parliament of Paris to fresh severities against the French Jesuits, and, on the 20th of July, 1773, the court of Rome itself, yielding at last to pressure from nearly all the sovereigns of Europe, solemnly pronounced the dissolution of the Order. "Recognizing that the members of this Society have not a little troubled the Christian commonwealth, and that for the welfare of Christendom it were better that the Order should disappear." The last houses still offering shelter to the Jesuits were closed; the general, Ricci, was imprisoned at the castle of St. Angelo, and the Society of Jesus, which had been so powerful for nearly three centuries, took refuge in certain distant lands, seeking in oblivion and silence fresh strength for the struggle which it was one day to renew.

The Parliaments were triumphant, but their authority, which seemed never to have risen so high or penetrated so far in the government of the state, was already tottering to its base. Once more the strife was about to begin between the kingly power and the magistracy, whose last victory was destined to scarcely precede its downfall. The financial embarrassments of the state were growing more serious every day; to the debts left by the Seven Years' War were added the new wants

developed by the necessities of commerce and by the progress of civilization. The Board of Works, a useful institution founded by Louis XV., was everywhere seeing to the construction of new roads, at the same time repairing the old ones; the forced labor for these operations fell almost exclusively on the peasantry. The Parliament of Normandy was one of the first to protest against "the impositions of forced labor, and the levies of money which took place in the district on pretext of repairs and maintenance of roads, without legal authority." "France is a land which devours its inhabitants," cried the Parliament of Paris. The Parliament of Pau refused to enregister the edicts; the Parliament of Brittany joined the Estates in protesting against the Duke of Aiguillon, the then governor, "the which hath made upon the liberties of the province one of those assaults which are not possible save when the crown believes itself to be secure of impunity." The noblesse having yielded in the states, the Parliament of Rennes gave in their resignation in a body. Five of its members were arrested; at their head was the attorney-general, M. de la Chalotais, author of a very remarkable paper against the Jesuits. It was necessary to form at St. Malo a King's Chamber to try the accused. M. de Calonne, an ambitious young man, the declared foe of M. de la Chalotais, was appointed attorney-general on the commission. He pretended to have discovered grave facts against the accused; he was suspected of having invented them. Public feeling was at its height; the magistrates loudly proclaimed the theory of Classes, according to which all the Parliaments of France, responsible one for another, formed in reality but one body, distributed by delegation throughout the principal towns of the realm. The king convoked a bed of justice, and, on the 2d of March, 1766, he repaired to the Parliament of Paris. "What has passed in my Parliaments of Pau and of Rennes has nothing to do with my other Parliaments," said Louis XV. in a firm tone, to which the ears of the Parliament were no longer accustomed. "I have behaved in respect of those two courts as comported with my authority, and I am not bound to account to anybody. I will not permit the formation in my kingdom of an association which might reduce to a confederacy of opposition the natural bond of identical duties and common obligations, nor the introduction into the monarchy of an imaginary body which could not but disturb its harmony. The magistracy does not form a body or order separate from the three orders of the kingdom; the magistrates are my officers. In my person alone resides the sovereign power, of which the special characteristic is the spirit of counsel, justice, and reason; it is from me alone that my courts have their existence and authority. It is to me alone that the legislative power belongs, without dependence and without partition. My people is but one with me, and the rights and interests of the nation whereof men dare to make a body separate from the monarch are necessarily united with my own, and rest only in my hands."


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