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

Matthew Gerber

in Bastards

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199755370
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932603 | DOI:
State Expansion, Social Practice, and the Quandaries of Legal Unification

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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

Chapter.  13764 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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