Journal Article

Neighbours before the Court: Crime, Village Communities and Seigneurial Justice in Northern Burgundy, 1750–1790

Jeremy D. Hayhoe

in French History

Published on behalf of Society for the Study of French History

Volume 17, issue 2, pages 127-148
Published in print June 2003 | ISSN: 0269-1191
Published online June 2003 | e-ISSN: 1477-4542 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fh/17.2.127
Neighbours before the Court: Crime, Village Communities and Seigneurial Justice in Northern Burgundy, 1750–1790

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This article uses the records of criminal cases in the seigneurial courts of northern Burgundy in the late eighteenth century to analyse the relationship between village communities and the central state. In opposition to most historians of crime, who have argued that people resented the intervention of the judge in their affairs and used courts only as a last resort, it argues that the local seigneurial court played a vital role in the everyday disputes of ordinary people. The reason that villagers turned so willingly to the local court was that their judges provided a fair resolution of disputes, with verdicts with which people agreed, and which were unlikely to escalate them. While it is true that many disputes were settled informally, even these required at least the threat of a court case, and depended for their enforcement on the same local seigneurial courts. Thus the judicial institutions of the French state belong at the centre of our understanding of everyday social relations in eighteenth‐century northern Burgundy.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: European History

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