Treze livres des parlemens de France. Esquels est amplement traicté de leur origine et institution et des présidens conseilliers, gens du roy, greffiers, secrétaires juissiers & autres officiers.

Bordeaux, Simon Millanges, 1617.


FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. (xxxxiv), 927, (i). Roman letter, some Italic. Title in red and black with Millange’s large woodcut device on title, large historiated and floriated initials, fine grotesque head and tail pieces. Light age yellowing, occasional light browning, minor spotting in places, the odd marginal thumb mark. A good, crisp copy, with good margins in excellent contemporary French red morocco, covers bordered with triple gilt rule, spine with gilt rules raised bands, triple gilt ruled in compartments with central gilt fleurons of vase and flowers, dentelle roll gilt at head and tail, small hole at head of spine, covers a little rubbed.

A lovely copy of the first edition of this important and revealing work on the procedures and duties of the Magistrates and officers of the Parliaments of France, beautifully printed by Simon Millanges, Montaigne’s printer. The work led to the author’s immediate ruin, as he wrote directly and openly of the failings, shortcomings, and corruption of his colleagues who then sued him for libel. La Roche Flavin studied in Rodez, at one of the first colleges founded in France by the Jesuits, and in Toulouse, where he became a lawyer at the Parliament and later President of the “Chambre de Requets.”

His long and honourable career of over fifty years as a Magistrate in the Parliament of Paris came to an abrupt end with the publication of this work. Its deliberate and systematic revelation of the hidden workings of the judicial system is a precious resource for historians. In around 550 chapters, he provides a historical survey of the knowledge required as Magistrate practitioner in the Parliaments of France, spanning all periods up to modernity. The fruit of a life time’s labour, the book is not simply a user’s manual for the Magistrate, full of details from the period, but contains all of La Roche Flavin’s experience of 50 years at a time when the Magistrature was rapidly changing. Written from 1614-17 but containing material gathered in the 1580s, it includes the debates which shook the Parliaments after the civil wars.

“The question of the paulette (and judicial corruption more generally) made parlement magistrates sensitive to questions of Propriety during the first half of the seventeenth century. Toulouse magistrate Bernard de la Roche Flavin’s treatise about parlement procedure, ‘Thirteen books of the Parlements of France,’ first published in 1617, was an important contribution to this debate about the professional role of magistrates and their social status. As a magistrate who had served at the Paris Parliament and more recently at the Parlement of Toulouse, La Roche Flavin urges his colleagues to prove their critics wrong. Much to the dismay of his colleagues, La Roche Flavin airs the dirty laundry of the Judiciary in an effort to reform current practice, acknowledging the faults of his colleagues in the hopes of holding them to higher standards in an age when venality threatens to undermine the authority of the Profession. La Roche Flavin, for whom the magistrates’ integrity is the very cornerstone of the French judicial system urges that court procedure be regularized and that magistrates maintain their public dignity at all times.” Sara Beam. ‘Laughing matters: farce and the making of absolutism in France’.

A very good copy of this important work in excellent contemporary morocco.

Not in BM STC F. C17th. Brunet III 843 “Ouvrage recherché, mais peu commun” Graesse. IV 107.


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