Religion and Royal Justice in Early Modern France: The Paris Chambre de l’Edit

Diane C. Margolf


Diane Margolf looks at the Paris Chambre de l’Edit in this well-researched study about the special royal law court that adjudicated disputes between French Huguenots and the Catholics. (SCE&S 67)

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Sixteenth Century Essays & Studies, Vol. 67

Diane Margolf looks at the Paris Chambre de l’Edit in this well-researched study about the special royal law court that adjudicated disputes between French Huguenots and the Catholics. Using archival records of the court’s criminal cases, Margolf analyzes the connections to three major issues in early modern French and European history: religious conflict and coexistence, the growing claims of the French crown to define and maintain order, and competing concepts of community and identity in the French state and society. Based on previously unexplored archival materials, Margolf examines the court through a cultural lens and offers portraits of ordinary men and women who were litigants before the court, and the magistrates who heard their cases.

This is the first book to try to examine and explain in a systematic way why the royal justice system was never able to protect the interests of French Huguenots after 1598, as the Edict of Nantes implied it would do. Basing her research on the records of the Chambre de l’Edit in Paris, Diane Margolf offers a great deal of insight into the practical limitations of the Edict of Nantes and why it could never be the guarantor of religious freedom that some Huguenots had hoped for.

—Mack P. Holt

This book offers a careful archival investigation of the most important judicial institution created by the Edict of Nantes that reveals for the first time what the Paris Chambre de l’Edit actually did. It is just the kind of study we need more of in order to understand the everyday realities of religious coexistence and its regulation in early modern Europe.

—Philip Benedict




“Le Port de Salut et repos de cet etat”
Huguenots & the Law in Seventeenth-Century France

“Our processes are judged by the ticket on the bagges”
Magistrates, Litigants, & the Paris Chambre de l’Edit

“Le remède de la sage oubliance”
Memory, Litigation, & the Paris Chambre de l’Edit

“Comme père commun de tous nos sujets”
The Family, the Law, & the Paris Chambre de l’Edit

“Que la force demeure au roi et à la justice”
Violence, Punishment, & Public Peace

“An annihilation of justice”
The Huguenots & the Law Revisited





Margolf brings to life not only the religion and royal justice of her title, but also provides insights on seventeenth-century rural and urban family and community life. [This volume] stands out as yet another fine volume in the Sixteenth Century Essays & Studies series.

Renaissance Quarterly

This is important reading for any scholarly or early modern French history and should certainly interest anyone concerned about the long-term effects of religious violence upon society.

—The Catholic Historical Review

Margolf offers a fascinating and well-documented study of the bipartisan chamber from its inception to its revocation in 1685 under Louis XIV.

The Proceedings of the Huguenot Society

The meat of this study is an analysis of 3,600 interlocutory judgments and definitive sentences issued by the Paris court’s criminal chamber in its attempts to rebuild civil society.… The requirement to render justice with equity had to be balanced with the grievances and dissension caused by a too rigorous application of the law. Peace required compromise and a commitment to collective amnesia—“the remedy of wise forgetfulness” as the edict put it—as well as punishment. Margolf shows how this was achieved with well-chosen case studies that do not clog the narrative flow. She reveals both the tensions and the success of a society embarking on an innovative project of confessional coexistence.

Sixteenth Century Journal

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