LOYSEAU, Charles.

LOYSEAU, Charles. Cinq Livres Du Droict Des Offices. [with] Traicté Des Seigneuries. [with] Traicté Des Ordres et Simples Dignitez.

Paris, Abel l’Angelier, 1613


Folio. 3 works in 1. Pp. (viii) 602 (xxxviii); (iv) 192 (xx); (iv) 133 (xi). Roman letter. Printer’s device to all three tps, tps in red and black, engraved portrait of the author to verso of viii of first work. Ornamental head and tail pieces and initials to all three works. C19 bookplate of library at Château de Barante to pastedown, C17 autograph of Brugière to p. 1 of first work, ms ‘n..10’ to last of third work. Age yellowing, variable browning, intermittent light foxing and spotting, heavier to some leaves, water stain to upper portion of p. 145 of first work, very light water stain to upper edge in places. A perfectly acceptable copy with generous margins in C1900 speckled sheep, gilt arms of Barante to covers, spine gilt with raised bands, brown morocco label.

Important collection of three texts on public law by the French jurist Charles Loyseau (1564-1627), a lawyer in the Parlement of Paris and renowned social and legal commentator. Loyseau was born into a family of lawyers, his father being a favourite of Henri II and a lawyer at the Parlement of Paris. The editor of Loyseau’s Oevures states in the introduction “il a surpassé la plupart de nos jurisconsultes dans la science du droit romain, et aucun d’eux ne l’a surpassé dans la connaissance de cette partie de la jurisprudence française qui regarde le droit public”. The three works included in the present volume are considered his most significant and valuable, notable for their clear and informed approach to the science of law and laws.

Cinq Livres Du Droict Des Offices discusses the different offices of the French crown and what the roles entailed. Loyseau discusses offices in general, and then goes on to describe hereditary offices, ‘venal’ offices, ‘non-venal’ offices (the former became the office holders’ property, the latter did not) and finally offices of the Seigneurs. He approaches the discussions from a moralistic standpoint, stating: “Ce goût des offices est une espèce de manie qui nous agite, car le mot ambition est désormais trop doux, bien qu’inventé par les Romains pour signifier le désir immodéré des offices; il en faut forger un autre pour nous et l’appeler archomanie: la fureur d’offices.” In this phrase Loyseau first coined the term ‘archomania’, describing the unstable nature of offices in pre-revolutionary France. Loyseau is called “the greatest authority on French venality in the 17th century”, (Esteves, Rui. Archomania: Venality and Private Finances on the Eve of the French Revolution).

Traicté Des Seigneuries discusses the seignories of France prior to the revolution. It heavily relates to land tenure and ownership, and Loyseau’s knowledge was from his extensive experiences in seigneurial courts. Seigneurs could be individual figures or a collective entity such as a monastery or parish. Following the repeal of the feudal system in 1789 this practice of land ownership collapsed, making this an important record of pre-revolutionary France.

Traicté Des Ordres et Simples Dignite was translated into English. On this and Loyseau’s works in general Jacket states, “This is the first English edition of a treatise which influenced French thinkers from its publication in 1610 until the end of the ancien regime. Charles Loyseau’s Treatise of Orders and Plain Dignities is the third of three major works in which he set out to harmonise with law his fellow citizens’ values and behaviour in the crucial sphere of possession and exercise of public power. In attempting this he developed a thesis, calculated to justify the monarch’s overriding role, which illuminates contemporary perceptions of the nature of the state… This edition thus not only makes available an important text, but also casts light upon the intellectual milieu of those who administered early-modern France.” The work is now a crucial source for understanding the complex French social structure of the seventeenth century.

USTC 6010902; Not in Brunet.
Stock Number: L3748 Categories: , , Tags: , ,