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This article is about the French Ancien Régime institution. For the post-Revolutionary and present-day institution, see French Parliament. For the general governmental concept, see Parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

.


Parlements (paʁləmɑ̃) were regional legislative bodies in Ancien Régime France.

The political institutions of the Parlement in Ancien Régime France developed out of the previous council of the king, the Conseil du roi
Conseil du Roi
The Conseil du Roi or King's Council is a general term for the administrative and governmental apparatus around the king of France during the Ancien Régime designed to prepare his decisions and give him advice...

 or curia regis
Curia Regis
Curia regis is a Latin term meaning "royal council" or "king's court."- England :The Curia Regis, in the Kingdom of England, was a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics that advised the king of England on legislative matters...

, and consequently had ancient and customary rights of consultation and deliberation. In the thirteenth century, judicial functions were added. The parlementarians were of the opinion that the parliament's role included active participation in the legislative process, which brought them into increasing conflict with evolving monarchic absolutism
Absolutism (European history)
Absolutism or The Age of Absolutism is a historiographical term used to describe a form of monarchical power that is unrestrained by all other institutions, such as churches, legislatures, or social elites...

 during the Ancien Régime, as the lit de justice
Lit de Justice
Lit de Justice is an American Champion Thoroughbred racehorse. He was bred by Robert Sangster's Swettenham Stud, and purchased by the French racing operation Mise de Moratalla who named him for a famous Parlement of Paris known as the Lit de justice...

 evolved during the sixteenth century from a constitutional forum to a royal weapon, used to force registration of edicts.

Originally, there was only the Parliament of Paris, born out of the king's council in 1307, and sitting inside the medieval royal palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

 on the Île de la Cité
Île de la Cité
The Île de la Cité is one of two remaining natural islands in the Seine within the city of Paris . It is the centre of Paris and the location where the medieval city was refounded....

, still the site of the Paris Hall of Justice. The jurisdiction of the Parliament of Paris covered the entire kingdom as it was in the fourteenth century, but did not automatically advance in step with the enlarging personal dominions of the kings. In 1443, following the turmoil of the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

, King Charles VII of France
Charles VII of France
Charles VII , called the Victorious or the Well-Served , was King of France from 1422 to his death, though he was initially opposed by Henry VI of England, whose Regent, the Duke of Bedford, ruled much of France including the capital, Paris...

 granted Languedoc
Languedoc
Languedoc is a former province of France, now continued in the modern-day régions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées in the south of France, and whose capital city was Toulouse, now in Midi-Pyrénées. It had an area of approximately 42,700 km² .-Geographical Extent:The traditional...

 its own parlement by establishing the Parlement of Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

, the first parlement outside of Paris; its jurisdiction extended over most of southern France.

From 1443 until the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, several other parlements were created in various provinces of France, until at the end of the Ancien Régime provincial parlements were sitting (clockwise from the north) in Arras
Arras
Arras is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. The historic centre of the Artois region, its local speech is characterized as a Picard dialect...

, Metz
Metz
Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers.Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place...

, Nancy, Colmar
Colmar
Colmar is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is the capital of the department. Colmar is also the seat of the highest jurisdiction in Alsace, the appellate court....

, Dijon
Dijon
Dijon is a city in eastern France, the capital of the Côte-d'Or département and of the Burgundy region.Dijon is the historical capital of the region of Burgundy. Population : 151,576 within the city limits; 250,516 for the greater Dijon area....

, Besançon
Besançon
Besançon , is the capital and principal city of the Franche-Comté region in eastern France. It had a population of about 237,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area in 2008...

, Grenoble
Grenoble
Grenoble is a city in southeastern France, at the foot of the French Alps where the river Drac joins the Isère. Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, Grenoble is the capital of the department of Isère...

, Aix
Aix-en-Provence
Aix , or Aix-en-Provence to distinguish it from other cities built over hot springs, is a city-commune in southern France, some north of Marseille. It is in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, in the département of Bouches-du-Rhône, of which it is a subprefecture. The population of Aix is...

, Perpignan
Perpignan
-Sport:Perpignan is a rugby stronghold: their rugby union side, USA Perpignan, is a regular competitor in the Heineken Cup and seven times champion of the Top 14 , while their rugby league side plays in the engage Super League under the name Catalans Dragons.-Culture:Since 2004, every year in the...

, Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

, Pau, Bordeaux
Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

, Rennes
Rennes
Rennes is a city in the east of Brittany in northwestern France. Rennes is the capital of the region of Brittany, as well as the Ille-et-Vilaine department.-History:...

 and Rouen
Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

. All of them were administrative capitals of regions with strong historical traditions of independence before they were incorporated into France. Assembled in the parlements, the largely hereditary members, the provincial noblesse de robe, were the strongest decentralising force in a France that was more multifarious in its legal systems, taxation, and custom than it might have seemed under the apparent unifying rule of its kings. Nevertheless, the Parlement of Paris had the largest jurisdiction of all the parlements, covering the major part of northern and central France, and was simply known as "the Parlement".

In some regions provincial Estates also continued to meet and legislate with a measure of self-governance and control over taxation within their jurisdiction.

All the parlements could issue regulatory decrees for the application of royal edicts or of customary practices; they could also refuse to register laws that they judged contrary to fundamental law, the local coutumes, of which there were some 300 jurisdictions in France or simply as being untimely. Membership in those courts was generally bought from the royal authority; and such positions could be made hereditary by payment of the tax to the King (la Paulette).

Provincial parlements

Provincial "parlements" or "conseils souverains" (shown in historic provinces of France
Provinces of France
The Kingdom of France was organised into provinces until March 4, 1790, when the establishment of the département system superseded provinces. The provinces of France were roughly equivalent to the historic counties of England...

) during the Ancien Régime
. Dates indicate creation of the parlement.
  • 1. Île-de-France
    Île-de-France (province)
    The province of Île-de-France or Isle de France is an historical province of France, and the one at the centre of power during most of French history...

     (Paris c.1260)
  • 4. Normandy
    Normandy
    Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

     (Rouen
    Rouen
    Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

     1499/1515)
  • 5. Languedoc
    Languedoc
    Languedoc is a former province of France, now continued in the modern-day régions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées in the south of France, and whose capital city was Toulouse, now in Midi-Pyrénées. It had an area of approximately 42,700 km² .-Geographical Extent:The traditional...

     (Toulouse
    Toulouse
    Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

     1443)
  • 7. Dauphiné
    Dauphiné
    The Dauphiné or Dauphiné Viennois is a former province in southeastern France, whose area roughly corresponded to that of the present departments of :Isère, :Drôme, and :Hautes-Alpes....

     (Grenoble
    Grenoble
    Grenoble is a city in southeastern France, at the foot of the French Alps where the river Drac joins the Isère. Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, Grenoble is the capital of the department of Isère...

     1453)
  • 12. Guyenne
    Guyenne
    Guyenne or Guienne , , ; Occitan Guiana ) is a vaguely defined historic region of south-western France. The Province of Guyenne, sometimes called the Province of Guyenne and Gascony, was a large province of pre-revolutionary France....

     and Gascony
    Gascony
    Gascony is an area of southwest France that was part of the "Province of Guyenne and Gascony" prior to the French Revolution. The region is vaguely defined and the distinction between Guyenne and Gascony is unclear; sometimes they are considered to overlap, and sometimes Gascony is considered a...

     (Bordeaux
    Bordeaux
    Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

     1462)
  • 13. Burgundy (Dijon
    Dijon
    Dijon is a city in eastern France, the capital of the Côte-d'Or département and of the Burgundy region.Dijon is the historical capital of the region of Burgundy. Population : 151,576 within the city limits; 250,516 for the greater Dijon area....

    1477)
  • 16. Provence
    Provence
    Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

     (
    Aix-en-Provence
    Aix-en-Provence
    Aix , or Aix-en-Provence to distinguish it from other cities built over hot springs, is a city-commune in southern France, some north of Marseille. It is in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, in the département of Bouches-du-Rhône, of which it is a subprefecture. The population of Aix is...

    1501)
  • 20. Brittany
    Brittany
    Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

     (
    Rennes
    Rennes
    Rennes is a city in the east of Brittany in northwestern France. Rennes is the capital of the region of Brittany, as well as the Ille-et-Vilaine department.-History:...

    , briefly at Nantes
    Nantes
    Nantes is a city in western France, located on the Loire River, from the Atlantic coast. The city is the 6th largest in France, while its metropolitan area ranks 8th with over 800,000 inhabitants....

    , 1553)
  • 26. Béarn
    Béarn
    Béarn is one of the traditional provinces of France, located in the Pyrenees mountains and in the plain at their feet, in southwest France. Along with the three Basque provinces of Soule, Lower Navarre, and Labourd, the principality of Bidache, as well as small parts of Gascony, it forms in the...

     (
    Pau 1620)
  • 27. Alsace
    Alsace
    Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

     (capital Strasbourg
    Strasbourg
    Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

    , cons. souv. in Colmar
    Colmar
    Colmar is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is the capital of the department. Colmar is also the seat of the highest jurisdiction in Alsace, the appellate court....

     1667)
  • 28. Artois
    Artois
    Artois is a former province of northern France. Its territory has an area of around 4000 km² and a population of about one million. Its principal cities are Arras , Saint-Omer, Lens and Béthune.-Location:...

     (cons provinc. in Arras
    Arras
    Arras is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. The historic centre of the Artois region, its local speech is characterized as a Picard dialect...

     1640)
  • 29. Roussillon
    Roussillon
    Roussillon is one of the historical counties of the former Principality of Catalonia, corresponding roughly to the present-day southern French département of Pyrénées-Orientales...

     (cons souv. Perpignan
    Perpignan
    -Sport:Perpignan is a rugby stronghold: their rugby union side, USA Perpignan, is a regular competitor in the Heineken Cup and seven times champion of the Top 14 , while their rugby league side plays in the engage Super League under the name Catalans Dragons.-Culture:Since 2004, every year in the...

     1660)
  • 30. Flanders and Hainaut
    County of Hainaut
    The County of Hainaut was a historical region in the Low Countries with its capital at Mons . In English sources it is often given the archaic spelling Hainault....

     (capital Lille
    Lille
    Lille is a city in northern France . It is the principal city of the Lille Métropole, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country behind those of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium...

    , parliament first in Tournai
    Tournai
    Tournai is a Walloon city and municipality of Belgium located 85 kilometres southwest of Brussels, on the river Scheldt, in the province of Hainaut....

    , then in Douai
    Douai
    -Main sights:Douai's ornate Gothic style belfry was begun in 1380, on the site of an earlier tower. The 80 m high structure includes an impressive carillon, consisting of 62 bells spanning 5 octaves. The originals, some dating from 1391 were removed in 1917 during World War I by the occupying...

    1686)
  • 31. Franche-Comté
    Franche-Comté
    Franche-Comté the former "Free County" of Burgundy, as distinct from the neighbouring Duchy, is an administrative region and a traditional province of eastern France...

     (
    Besançon
    Parlement of Besançon
    The Parlement of Besançon was the Ancien Regime Parlement that dealt with the Franche-Comté. It was created in 1676. The previous Parlement for much of the reason had been at Dôle, and had been created in 1422....

     1676; formerly at Dôle
    Dole
    Dole may refer to:*The Grain supply to the city of Rome in ancient times.* Since the early 20th Century, a colloquial term referring to government public assistance programs; see Unemployment benefits. Originally it referred to any charitable gift of food, clothing or money. The dole has taken on...

     (1422))
  • 32. Lorraine
    Lorraine (province)
    The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

     (Nancy 1776)
  • (not indicated) Dombes
    Dombes
    The Dombes is an area in South-Eastern France, once an independent municipality, formerly part of the province of Burgundy, and now a district comprised in the département of Ain, and bounded W. by the Saône River, by the Rhône, E. by the Ain and N...

     (Trévoux
    Trévoux
    Trévoux is a commune in the Ain department in eastern France.It is a suburb of Lyon.-History:The town was the capital of the Dombes principality, and famed for its dictionary...

     1523-1771)
  • (not indicated) Corsica
    Corsica
    Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

     (cons. souv. in Bastia
    Bastia
    Bastia is a commune in the Haute-Corse department of France located in the northeast of the island of Corsica at the base of Cap Corse. It is also the second-largest city in Corsica after Ajaccio and the capital of the department....

     1768)
  • (not indicated) Trois-Évêchés
    Three Bishoprics
    The Three Bishoprics constituted a province of pre-Revolutionary France consisting of the prince-bishoprics of Verdun, Metz, and Toul within the Lorraine region....

     (Metz
    Diocese of Metz
    The Roman Catholic Diocese of Metz is a Diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church in France. In the Middle Ages it was in effect an independent state, part of the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by the bishop who had the ex officio title of count. It was annexed to France by King Henry II in...

     1633)
  • Note: The map does not show the jurisidictions of the parlements. The map reflects France's modern external borders and does not indicate the territorial formation of France over time. Provinces on this list may encompass several other historic provinces and counties.

Political role


In theory, parlements were not legislative bodies
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

, but courts of appeal. They had the duty, however, to record all royal edict
Edict
An edict is an announcement of a law, often associated with monarchism. The Pope and various micronational leaders are currently the only persons who still issue edicts.-Notable edicts:...

s and law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

s. Some, especially the Parlement de Paris, gradually acquired the habit of refusing to register legislation with which they disagreed until the king held a lit de justice
Lit de Justice
Lit de Justice is an American Champion Thoroughbred racehorse. He was bred by Robert Sangster's Swettenham Stud, and purchased by the French racing operation Mise de Moratalla who named him for a famous Parlement of Paris known as the Lit de justice...

 or sent a lettre de cachet
Lettre de cachet
Lettres de cachet were letters signed by the king of France, countersigned by one of his ministers, and closed with the royal seal, or cachet...

 to force them to act. Furthermore, the parlements could pass arrêts de réglement, which were laws that applied within their jurisdiction.

In the years immediately before the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, their extreme concern to preserve Ancien Régime institutions of bourgeois and noble
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 privilege prevented France from carrying out miscellaneous reforms, especially in the area of taxation, even when those reforms had the support of absolute monarchs
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

.

The beginning of the proposed changes in France began with the Protests of the Parlement of Paris addressed to Louis XVI in March 1776, in which the Second Estate, the nobility of France, resisted the beginning of certain reforms that would remove privileges from the Second Estate, notably their exemption from taxes. The objections made to the Parlement of Paris were in reaction to the essay, Réflexions sur la formation et la distribution des richesses ("Reflections on the Formation and Distribution of Wealth") by Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot. The Second Estate reacted to the essay with anger and with desperation to convince the king that the nobility still served a very important role in France and still deserved the same privileges of tax exemption as well as for the preservation of the guilds and corporations put in place to restrict trade, both of which were eliminated in the reforms proposed by Turgot.

The core concerns of this parliamentary meeting were to address some of the suggested reforms proposed by Turgot, which included taxing the Second Estate depending on the amount of land that they owned; all taxes had been a duty of the Third Estate, or the common people of France.

The personal service of the clergy is to fulfill all the functions relating to education and religious observances and to contribute to the relief of the unfortunate through its alms. The noble dedicates his blood to the defense of the state and assists to sovereign with his counsel. The last class of the nation, which cannot render such distinguished service to the state, fulfills its obligation through taxes, industry, and physical labor.


The Second Estate of France consisted of approximately 2% of France's population, but was exempt from almost all taxes, including the Corvée Royale, which was a recent mandatory service in which the roads would be repaired and built by those subject to the corvée
Corvée
Corvée is unfree labour, often unpaid, that is required of people of lower social standing and imposed on them by the state or a superior . The corvée was the earliest and most widespread form of taxation, which can be traced back to the beginning of civilization...

. The Second Estate was also exempt from the Gabelle
Gabelle
The gabelle was a very unpopular tax on salt in France before 1790. The term gabelle derives from the Italian gabella , itself from the Arabic qabala....

, which was the unpopular tax on salt, and also the Taille
Taille
The taille was a direct land tax on the French peasantry and non-nobles in Ancien Régime France. The tax was imposed on each household and based on how much land it held.-History:Originally only an "exceptional" tax The taille was a direct land tax on the French peasantry and non-nobles in Ancien...

, the oldest form of taxation in France, which was based upon how much land a person owned.

The Second Estate was going to have to pay the Taille, and all those who had to pay the Taille, by law, had to perform the Corvée. The nobles saw this task as especially humiliating and below them to perform, as the nobles took great pride in their titles and their lineage, many of whom had died in defense of France. They saw this elimination of tax privilege as the gateway for more attacks on their rights and urged the Louis XVI throughout the Protests of the Parliament of Paris not to give into the proposed reforms.

These exemptions, as well as the right to wear a sword and their coat of arms, encouraged the idea of a natural superiority over the commoners that was common through the Second Estate, and as long as the nobles had commoners under their jurisdiction, they could demand a tax on the Third Estate called Feudal Dues, which would allegedly be for the Third Estate's protection. Overall, the Second Estate had vast privileges over the Third Estate and took advantage of the Third Estate using the nobles’ position of power in the current class system. The reforms proposed by Turgot and argued against in the Protests of the Parliament of Paris conflicted with the Second Estates’ interests to keep their privileged positions, starting the ideas of change and revolution to seep into the political arena.

This behavior of the Parlements is one of the reasons that since the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, French courts have been forbidden by Article 5 of the French civil code
Napoleonic code
The Napoleonic Code — or Code Napoléon — is the French civil code, established under Napoléon I in 1804. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified...

 to create law and act as legislative bodies, their only mandate being to interpret the law. France, through the Napoleonic Code, was at the origin of the modern system of civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 in which precedents are not as powerful as in countries of common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

. The origin of the weakness of the French court system, with no rule of precedent
Stare decisis
Stare decisis is a legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedents established by prior decisions...

, no single Supreme court and no constitutional review of statutes by courts, is usually traced to that hostility towards "government by judges".

Judicial proceedings


In civil trials, judges had to be paid épices (literally "spices" – fees) by the parties. Civil justice was out of reach of most of the population, except the wealthiest and best connected.

Regarding criminal justice, the proceedings were markedly archaic. Judges could order suspects to be torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

d in order to extract confessions or induce them to reveal the names of their accomplice
Accomplice
At law, an accomplice is a person who actively participates in the commission of a crime, even though they take no part in the actual criminal offense. For example, in a bank robbery, the person who points the gun at the teller and asks for the money is guilty of armed robbery...

s: there were the question ordinaire ("ordinary questioning"), the ordinary form of torture, and the question extraordinaire ("extraordinary questioning"), with increased brutality. There was little presumption of innocence
Presumption of innocence
The presumption of innocence, sometimes referred to by the Latin expression Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat, is the principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty. Application of this principle is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, recognised in many...

 if the suspect was a mere poor commoner
Commoner
In British law, a commoner is someone who is neither the Sovereign nor a peer. Therefore, any member of the Royal Family who is not a peer, such as Prince Harry of Wales or Anne, Princess Royal, is a commoner, as is any member of a peer's family, including someone who holds only a courtesy title,...

. The death sentence could be pronounced for a variety of crimes including mere theft
Theft
In common usage, theft is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's permission or consent. The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crimes against property, such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting and fraud...

; depending on the crime and the social class of the victim, death could be by decapitation
Decapitation
Decapitation is the separation of the head from the body. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder or execution; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe, sword, knife, wire, or by other more sophisticated means such as a guillotine...

 with a sword
Sword
A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

 (for nobles), hanging
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 (for most of the secondary crimes by commoners), the breaking wheel
Breaking wheel
The breaking wheel, also known as the Catherine wheel or simply the wheel, was a torture device used for capital punishment in the Middle Ages and early modern times for public execution by bludgeoning to death...

 (for some heinous crimes by commoners), and even burning at the stake (for heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

, or advocacy of atheism
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

). Some crimes, such as regicide
Regicide
The broad definition of regicide is the deliberate killing of a monarch, or the person responsible for the killing of a monarch. In a narrower sense, in the British tradition, it refers to the judicial execution of a king after a trial...

, exacted even more horrific punishment.

Judicial torture and cruel methods of executions were abolished in 1788 by King Louis XVI.

Current usage


Since in current French language
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 usage, parlement means parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

 q.v., as in the English expression Parliament of France
Parliament of France
The French Parliament is the bicameral legislature of the French Republic, consisting of the Senate and the National Assembly . Each assembly conducts legislative sessions at a separate location in Paris: the Palais du Luxembourg for the Senate, the Palais Bourbon for the National Assembly.Each...

, there is confusion about the historical role of the parlements under the Ancien Régime.

See also


The following articles deal with certain of the former parlements of the provinces of France
Provinces of France
The Kingdom of France was organised into provinces until March 4, 1790, when the establishment of the département system superseded provinces. The provinces of France were roughly equivalent to the historic counties of England...

:
  • Parlement of Brittany
  • Parlement of Toulouse

Books

Bluche, François. L'Ancien régime: Institutions et société. Collection: Livre de poche. Paris: Fallois, 1993. ISBN 2-253-06423-8 Jouanna, Arlette and Jacqueline Boucher, Dominique Biloghi, Guy Thiec. Histoire et dictionnaire des Guerres de Religion. Collection: Bouquins. Paris: Laffont, 1998. ISBN 2-221-07425-4 Pillorget, René and Suzanne Pillorget. France Baroque, France Classique 1589-1715. Collection: Bouquins. Paris: Laffont, 1995. ISBN 2-221-08110-2