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BastardsPolitics, Family, and Law in Early Modern France$
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Matthew Gerber

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199755370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199755370.001.0001

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State Expansion, Social Practice, and the Quandaries of Legal Unification

State Expansion, Social Practice, and the Quandaries of Legal Unification

(p.95) 4 State Expansion, Social Practice, and the Quandaries of Legal Unification

Matthew Gerber

Oxford University Press

From the middle of the seventeenth-century, the power and authority of the French state expanded both internationally and domestically. In one instance, this had a detrimental effect on extramarital offspring, because Louis XIV attempted to finance the Nine Years’ War in part by imposing a tax on all bastards and resident foreigners in the realm. Yet, by increasing the scope of regional variations in custom, territorial expansion ironically made it more difficult for jurists like Chancellor Henri-François Daguesseau to codify French law. The persistence of legal diversity gave natural parents greater room for practical manoeuvre in their efforts to favour their extramarital offspring. This was most evident in the eighteenth-century revival of royal legitimation with effects of inheritance, particularly in the so-called written law provinces practicing Roman law as their common custom.

Keywords:   affaires extraordinaires, taxation, tax on bastards, legal reform, Daguesseau, legitimation by royal rescript, natural parents, written law provinces

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