Lawyers and Citizens

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

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Description

Not only were lawyers heavily represented among the men who rose to power in France in 1789, to a large extent, they also shapted the evolution of French political culture under the ancien regime. David Bell's new book 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. Bell analyses 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 journalism. He describes the birth of an independent legal profession in the late seventeenth century, its alientation from the monarchy under the pressure of religious disputes in the early eighteenth, and its transformation into a standard-bearer of "enlightened" opinion in the decades before the Revolution. His work 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 middle classes in France.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 294 pages
  • 154.9 x 231.1 x 25.4mm | 612.36g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • halftones
  • 0195076702
  • 9780195076707

Back cover copy

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.show more

Review quote

This book fills an important gap in the historiography of eighteenth-century France ... an important book ... It resurrects a significant and neglected aspect of eighteenth-century French history, and makes a major contribution to the debate on the origins of the French Revolution. * Munro Price, University of Bradford, British Journal for Eighteenth-century Studies. vol.19, part 2, Autumn 1996 * This is a definitive portrait of a group whose claim to one is long overdue. It is written with clarity and a control which, while addressing all the major issues along the way, never allows the argument to become unduly side-tracked. * French History *show more

Rating details

12 ratings
3.33 out of 5 stars
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4 33% (4)
3 42% (5)
2 17% (2)
1 0% (0)
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