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

ISBN : 9780197507728

David A Bell
296 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Mar 2020
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David Bell's 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 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 journalism. 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. 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.



Ch. 1 The World of the Law

Ch. 2 Building an Independent Profession

Ch. 3 A Sort of Absolutely Independent Little Republic at the Center of the State

Ch. 4 The Seminary of Publicists

Ch. 5 The Profession Transformed

Ch. 6 The Vanguard of Reform



Bibliographic Note


About the author: 

David A. Bell is Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor in the Era of North Atlantic Revolutions at Princeton University. He is the author of many books, including Napoleon: A Concise History, Shadows of Revolution: Reflections on France, The Cult of the Nation in France, and The First Total War.

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