Justice and the Law
In early modern France, feuds did not come to an end when either of the disputing parties had recourse to law. The judicial system was not neutral, nor was the law free from the social and political constraints in which it operated. For the elite, litigation was a way of life that consumed money and imposed immense psychological burdens. For those at the lower end of the elite, desperate to keep up appearances, the lawsuit was probably more all-consuming and had greater import than for their peers who had factotums to take the strain and who enjoyed a greater variety of recreational activities. To feuding parties, writs, summonses, and other court orders were provocations attended by violence. This chapter outlines the role of justice in dealing with heinous crimes in early modern France, including the legal procedure, the trial, chicanery, legal costs, and punishment.
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