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What is the boundary between public and private? Some reflections, based on the royal domain

Fanny Cosandey
Traduction de Juliette Rogers (rogers.juliette@gmail.com)

Résumés

Dans une société politique où le service au roi et au royaume se transmet dans la famille, où donc les charges publiques sont héréditaires, où le monarque lui-même est tout à la fois un chef d’Etat et un chef de lignage et qui, pourtant, sacrifie ses biens patrimoniaux au fonctionnement du pays, la frontière entre le public et le privé est pour le moins problématique. Cet article se propose ainsi d’analyser la manière dont les théoriciens du pouvoir discutent, sous l’Ancien Régime, des limites entre ce qui relève de la sphère publique et ce qui appartient à la sphère privée en prenant pour objet le domaine royal, cet héritage des rois de France formé à l’origine par les possessions capétiennes mais progressivement rattachés à la couronne et, à ce titre, un bien de l’Etat. C’est alors l’intérêt collectif qui est mis à l’épreuve des droits particuliers à travers une histoire profondément secouée par l’avènement d’Henri IV et la réunion de ses biens familiaux au domaine royal. Le questionnement engagé par les jurisconsultes soulève des interrogations qui viennent jusqu’à nous et éclaire, finalement, un aspect essentiel de la construction politique en amont comme en aval de la Révolution. L’articulation entre la nature dynastique du régime monarchique et l’affirmation de la souveraineté crée une tension qui ouvre la voie de la modernité sans cependant résoudre une des contradictions majeures d’un monde où les privilèges supposent le respect des acquis personnels ou corporatifs susceptibles de heurter une toute puissance dédiée au bénéfice de tous.

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  • 1 Claude Moatti, Respublica, histoire romaine de la chose publique, Paris, Fayard, 2018, “Introductio (...)
  • 2 In an approach developed by François Furet, La Révolution, 1770-1880, Paris, Hachette, coll. “Histo (...)

1The political and social organization of contemporary democracies, largely structured by he distinction between public and private, traces back to Antiquity. Roman law already tried to separate the two by referring private affairs to individuals. The notion of res publica, already highly complex and “originally designat[ing] nothing but that which is common to citizens,”1 assumes an immediately political approach that explores both the collective and it opposite, forms of individuation, of which domestic space is an expression. The opposition thus concerns things related to the civic unit and things related to the family, the former being part of the public and the latter in the private domain. Under the French monarchy of the Ancien Régime, observations of the nature of the royal domain led jurists to question the boundary dividing the private affairs of the prince from the political responsibility of the sovereign. This is because the royal domain had two affiliations: it was the king’s inheritance, passed down a single line alongside the crown, and it was intrinsically connected to the throne in service to all. This means that the political structure’s dynastic form muddled the dividing line between two notions that the Napoleonic civil code would set out to dissociate, right down to the possession of family property. If pursuing personal interests in the administration of the State is morally and legally condemned today, to the point of being illegal to personally benefit from holding public office, this was not the case under the monarchy, where political responsibilities could also be apparent in patrimonial acquisitions (purchased rights and titles, family archives relating to State functions, etc.). The engagements of lineages were thus constantly tied in with governmental engagements, an interaction prompting us to revisit the schemas that were established after the revolution and embedded in the long-term assertion of the Republic.2

2French royalty had the distinction of having been held by one sole house, the Capetians, since the tenth century. Specific rules of succession entirely excluded women from transmission, ensuring one single lineage. Moreover, under the title of King of France, the monarch reigned over an entire territory that no external sovereign managed to separate, which was not the case for many other crowns. This exceptional situation, marked by geographical and family unity, made it possible for legal advisors to develop an original conception of the relationship between private patrimony and public authority. In this article I analyze this theoretical outcome, resulting from problems identified in very specific situations, in order to understand what is in play in the confrontation of the public and private. At the heart of debates over the public character of heritable property, the royal domain allows us to examine notions of public and private that appear to be semantically stable over time but do not necessarily apply the same things in different periods and contexts. Closer observation of the origins of how these terms were used and connecting them to the outcomes of their use thus provide significant nuances and shed light on how we conceive of political responsibility, well beyond the period considered here.

  • 3 His possessions are inherited through female lines, either directly from the king’s mother or from (...)

3Conceiving of the nature of the domain of the crown – fruit of a long process of accumulated inheritance, purchases, conquests, and confiscation and in constant tension between dynastic possession and the workings of authority – thus amounts to examining the relationships between private and public goods, the royal family and monarchical power, and personal benefit and general interest. The question arises at different levels with seemingly interlocking scales, the spatial metaphor all the more appropriate as it involves interactions between geographical and social information. The monarch as sovereign protector of all his subjects is superimposed on the King as a lord possessing personal possessions through maternal lines.3 As to the common good, although it is associated with collective existence, it is also the sum of personal rights that ought to be respected. This yardstick imposed the family is as the social model constituting the republic, in a mechanism that was aptly described by Bodin, and it retains its singular identity as the basic unit for hereditary transmission. As to the kingdom, it is both an aggregate of disparate elements whose origins are to be found, and a principle of unity that holds the domain itself prisoner.

  • 4 Robert Descimon and Alain Guery, “Un Etat des temps modernes ?,” La longue durée de l’Etat, Jacques (...)

4The fact that jurists’ arguments on the status of a domain gradually accrued to the benefit of the republic reveals a border between two interdependent notions, shaped by political and social demands, that helped to define the so-called “modern” State.4

The domain, patrimonial property

Two kinds of domain:
the King’s private patrimony and the State’s public patrimony

  • 5 René Choppin, De domanio franciae, Paris, Martin Le Jeune, 1574, translated into French for the fir (...)
  • 6 René Choppin, Traité du domaine de la couronne de France. Reveu et corrigé en cette dernière éditio (...)
  • 7 Guillaume Leyte, Domaine et domanialité publique dans la France médiévale (xiie-xve siècles), Stras (...)

5At the height of the Wars of Religion, René Choppin spoke, in reference to the sixteenth-century author Bartole, of “such private possessions of the Princes or Kings […] distinguished and separated from public land and possessions” in his Traité du domaine.5 He then specified “which things are required to be of the King’s Domain as public and which are put among the private and personal things belonging to the King.”6 The distinction between the prince’s personal and public holdings, the tension between public and private things, immediately introduces the difficulty of thinking of the royal domain as a unified whole with the sole vocation of serving the kingdom.7 In his Commentaires written a few years later, Choppin’s contemporary Louis Carondas Le Caron connected the explicit statement of this duality to the classical model:

  • 8 “Private patrimony, that is to say, private things […] and the sacred patrimony which is separated (...)
  • 9 Recueil des anciens édicts et ordonnances du Roy, concernant les domaines et droicts de la Couronne (...)

The Emperor had two patrimonies, or possessions in two ways, that is, Patrimonium privatum, sive res private […] and Sacrum Patrimonium, quod a re privata seperari solet.8 And for these two Patrimonies or kinds of possessions various magistrates and officers were responsible […]. But it should be observed that such a distinction of possessions would have been introduced, as they were variously destined for use by the Prince, that is, private Patrimony […] for the private and personal use of the Prince, as of his house; [and] sacred Patrimony, which was destined for the Affairs of the Empire and of its State, as we say now.9

  • 10 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, “De l’origine et authorité du patrimoine royal,” by Auguste Galland, (1640 ?), f (...)
  • 11 BNF, Ms. Fr. 18553, fol. 1.
  • 12 On this issue, cf. François Olivier-Martin, “La réunion de la Basse-Navarre à la couronne de France (...)

6At the ascension of Henri IV, August Galland clearly distinguished between “two kinds of patrimony”10 tied to the prince: one relating to the crown, which the king inherited by acceding to the throne and can be equated with Carondas Le Caron’s “sacred patrimony,” and another passed through his ancestors from their own accumulated fortunes, which remained a personal possession. This is why “The King Henry 4 upon his accession to the crown possessed considerable holdings,” beyond specifically public lands.11 The issue that troubled jurists at the time was the monarch’s capacity to use possessions for his private use when he took on a new legal personhood (alongside royal dignity) exclusively reserved for governing the State. Some expressed themselves in favor of this tacit union – the immediate combining of everything inherited by the prince into the royal domain – while others emphasized the iniquity of such an arrangement, if only for collateral heirs thus dispossessed of potential rights. The first head of the house of Bourbon’s reticence to relinquish his possessions in the first years of his reign, while his power was still tenuous, provided the occasion for intense theoretical production that constantly ran up against both origins of the crown’s domain, simultaneously inherited and sovereign, feudal and monarchical.12

  • 13 An excellent summary of these developments in table form can be found in A. Jouanna, La France du x (...)
  • 14 Robert Descimon, “L’union au domaine royal et le principe d’inaliénabilité. La construction d’une l (...)
  • 15 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, “Mémoire sur le domaine (1608)” by Bizet, fol. 13v°.
  • 16 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, fol. 13.

7After Hugh Capet’s ascension to the crown, the domain grew steadily through marriage and succession.13 If the de facto adoption of the principle of inalienability in the fourteenth century and its forceful confirmation in the 1566 edict of Moulins confer a facade of unity, the history of these lands and the slow building of the kingdom of France contain many ambiguities concerning the modes of holding and exercising sovereign authority over the entire territory.14 In addition to the distinction between privately acquired possessions and those received through royal succession, there is also the separation between lords and suzerains inherent to the feudal regime, so, as Bizet stressed in 1608, one must not confuse the “public land rights for the necessity of its affairs with all the other patrimonial possessions allocated to their states.”15 The nuance is important: it determines the financial resources of the monarchy and is a way to measure royal power, since “by the means of this sovereignty the King rules the usage of things between his subjects and for this are due rights to services, real and personal, tributes, subsidies for exceptional expenses, which should bear the mark of this eminent superiority.”16 The difference between publically owned holdings and feudal fiefs expresses the distance separating the direct royal from the vassal, which has consequences on the domain’s revenues and the interests of the entire kingdom. This opposition must be kept in mind in order to understand how the notion of public was used when confronted with the notion of personal, especially where individual rights are concerned.

A dynastic inheritance

  • 17 For example, BNF, Ms Fr. 16642, “Memoire des Principaute Duchez Marquisatz Comtez Baronnies Chastel (...)
  • 18 Aurélie du Crest, Modèle familial et pouvoir monarchique (xvie-xviiie siècles), Aix-en-Provence, Pr (...)

8The history of every seigneury, fief, and freehold is unique, and dynastic changes raised the question of ownership whenever there was a break in the male line. Should inherited possessions stay in the prince’s family, or should they be absorbed by the royal domain? Henri IV’s accession prompted a major crisis over this question, but it was not the first. The arrival of Louis XII (previously Duke of Orleans) and his second marriage with Ann, Duchess of Brittany, and the accession to the throne of François I, Duke of Angoulême, presented similar problems. Jurists considering the origins and nature of the royal domain went to great lengths to record the genealogy of even the lowest lords, compiling massive volumes documenting where lands came from and how they came into the possession of princes and then the crown.17 Their labors reveal two fundamental aspects of royal patrimony. The first is the conservation of a heritable character alongside absorption into the domain by showing how inheritance is passed from one generation to the next; the second is the role of women in this transmission. This last point is key, because the introduction of female lineages into the purely patrilineal model of succession disrupts the seemingly simple devolution based on male-to-male continuity. Indeed, much land came in via female heirs who passed it on to their son-king or son-prince in line for the throne. Collaterals thus acceded to royal dignity with maternal possessions (or their father’s maternal possessions) to which male and female children had claim, especially if they had been born prior to their father’s ascent: for anything unrelated to prerogative, a prince of the blood is like any other subject, that is, like any other private individual, disposing of his inherited possessions according to the customs of the time. This is a reminder, once again, that before being in the service of the kingdom, the domain is family patrimony, and that the king, father of the people, is also the father of his children.18 As head of a lineage, he is responsible for protecting his own, who are private individuals (with the notable exception of the Dauphin, whose specific status is expressed by his title). This pair of characteristics inherent to the domain is transferred to the royal descendant, raising the question of successional equity and the use of lands at many levels.

  • 19 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 31v°.
  • 20 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 32 & v°.

9Heavily inspired by Choppin, Auguste Galland reviewed the challenges that could result from incorporation. The first concerns the nature of the possessions passing through women: “The adjusted province of the Crown is subject to the laws and statues of the Crown.”19 And indeed there is no question that the principle of strictly patrilineal transmission applies to lands integrated into the domain. In this way, “Although the county of Alençon had come from women’s lines, such fiefs to which women could succeed, or those acquired at the cost of silver or given in recompense, regardless, they never succeed to fiefs that have been once unified to the crown by the law of the Kingdom.”20 Removed from succession to the crown, women often found themselves stripped of part of their inheritance that was legitimately theirs under private law. The transmutation of family gains creates an injustice that, for example, Henri IV tried to avoid by separating out that which could go to his sister in the future.

  • 21 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 28.

10The second challenge concerns possessions obtained using the resources of women. This was the case of the “County of Blois [acquired] by [Duke] Louis d’Orleans from the dowry of Valentine his wife […] [His grandson, King] Louis XII declared this County and other lands acquired by the dowry of Valentine his grandmother to be separated from the domain of the crown. […] The same for Coucy acquired by this Louis with the dowry of Valentine.”21 The king considered them to be specific possessions to which the laws of prerogative did not apply, leaving them within the reach of women. The underlying idea relates to the preceding point: being neither the product of public resources nor the result of royal policy, these acquisitions are part of a separate line until transmission, and they are at the disposal of the monarch as the grandson of a well-endowed princess. Ultimately, however, the crown won, and the marriage of Louis XII’s eldest daughter with his successor to the crown had a role in this accumulation of wealth: the alliance of Louis XII’s heiress Claude de France and François I transferred all rights to the domain.

  • 22 BNF, Ms Fr. 16670, fol. 54.

11The third difficulty relates to maternal successions in which many descendants claim a share. Claims relating to Anne of Brittany’s fortune continued for generations: The Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain demanded recognition of the rights of her mother, who was a daughter of Henri II (Anne de Bretagne’s grandson); the Duke of Lorraine came forward because his mother was another daughter of Henri II; and the descendants of Ann’s daughter Renée de France thought that she had been unjustly stripped of her rights, all playing on the male and female lines to try to take advantage of the inheritance.22 In this chapter, the crown had no difficulty keeping its prerogative, but the repetition of the process shows that additions to the domain are more tenuous than ancestral possessions, and that such acquisitions have burdensome histories that can only slowly break free of their origins. The call of lineage echoes on, long after portions were supposedly absorbed by a crown whose primary outward sign is unity.

  • 23 This question is far from simple. V. Alexandre Deroche, L’Apanage royal en France à l’époque modern (...)
  • 24 BNF, Ms 23948, fol. 12. See also René Choppin (op. cit., p. 18), who gives several examples.

12The fourth great challenge relates to the status of men with prerogative who were putative heirs to the throne, and as such were given crown lands that passed down through the male line.23 But these princes of royal blood were otherwise like other private individuals, inheriting from their mothers or grandmothers and investing the revenue freely. “The lands acquired by he who enjoys the Domain by prerogative are neither reunited nor incorporated into the domain or prerogative […] provided that they were acquired as a foreign person [someone from outside of the family] and not by reunion or feudal deduction due to prerogative.24 The capital at the disposal of men of the royal line came partly from inalienable lands and partly from private resources, of which they had unfettered use. In many affairs, the confusion of accounts made it impossible to sort out the situation, and the very simple model of prerogative attribution supposed to revert when there was no male heir got muddled once a variety of heritable acquisitions were involved. Once again, the introduction of family information into the configuration favoring accrual to the domain shakes the monarchical idea of a sharply demarcated domain of the crown entirely devolved to the community, meaning the kingdom.

The metaphor of mystical marriage, non-joint ownership to the benefit of the crown

  • 25 For example, BNF, Mss Fr. 10830, fol. 185v°” “joint ownership is never stipulated in the marriage c (...)
  • 26 For more on this issue in geenral and theorists of the political marriage of the king and the crown (...)

13Since the domain was not considered apart from its familial component, legal advisors used the vocabulary of alliance to express precisely what is distanced from it, thus demarcating a possession whose use is subject to the norms of private law. The metaphor of the mystical marriage of the king and crown situates the issue of the domain at the level of the lowest social denominator, the couple, in thinking that questions the future of a heritable possession that is supposed to be subject to customary law but nonetheless infringes upon it. French kings’ marital arrangements were based on individual ownership of the king and queen’s respective properties, despite the Custom of Paris with which it was affiliated.25 This dispensation was made explicit by theorists of power, who justified these arrangements with measures conforming to the principle of inalienability.26 The necessity of such precision – respecting custom and exemption from it – is revealing of kings’ position: since Capetian possessions were concentrated in the Ile-de-France (Paris and surrounding area), they were governed by its customary laws, and princely marriages adopted their conditions. And indeed, royal descendants other than the king established their contracts on the basis of joint property ownership, with a restrictive meaning: no longer a matter of covering the entire kingdom, its reach was reduced to the married couple alone. The marriages of kings were deprived of joint ownership in the name of the community as the greater good.

  • 27 Cardin Le Bret, De la souveraineté du Roy, Paris, Jacques Quesnoy, 1632, p. 47.
  • 28 Jean de Marnix, Resolutions politiques et maximes d'Estat, Rouen, 1620, p. 224.
  • 29 Jacques de La Guesle, Remonstrances, Paris, 1611, p. 595.
  • 30 BNF, Ms Fr. 18255, « Traicté de Monsieur Servin advocat et general au Parlement de Paris touchant l (...)
  • 31 For more on the consequences for the queen, cf. Fanny Cosandey, La Reine de France, symbole et pouv (...)
  • 32 Jean Du Tillet, Memoires et recherches, Rouen, 1578, p. 138.

14 Analysis focuses specifically on the family to highlight the fact that the royal couple, despite being the pinnacle of the social order, was the least privileged by the laws of the kingdom. This was because queens “have this less than all other women, that they have no community of possessions with the Kings their husbands.”27 By taking recourse to the legal definition as it is presented in marriage contracts, legal advisors used the figure of mystical marriage to join the two extremes of the House and the State. The dialectic of the private and the public, prince as private individual or sovereign, joins that of the single and the whole, all subjects ultimately assembling the multitude of families initially forged from the union of two beings. But the relationship between them involved a strict opposition, with the domain positioned entirely on the public side to escape the implications of joining property into common ownership. The metaphor of the mystical marriage makes the domain into the crown’s dowry to the king, “so that the Prince squandering the possessions of his State that are given to him in dowry to sustain its actions [State expenses] does no better than a husband selling the dowry goods of his wife, which he cannot, even with her consent,”28 according to Jean de Marnix. Jacques de la Guesle held that the laws of the State “regarded as the same thing the possession of the Prince and the possession of his people,”29 the accession to the throne bringing about the transformation of the domain, and there was no question that “the incorporation had been made in full rights, that this particular domain solely by the promotion of the Prince and as by his political marriage with the State had been rendered public sacrosanct excluded from disposal and trade, and had assumed a new nature.”30 If transposing princely marriages into the political sphere served as an argument for tacit union, it also affected the royal couple, which accordingly left the private and domestic sphere in which marriage is naturally embedded to adopt an exceptional system signaling an extraordinary posture.31 The metaphor frees the domain of its patrimonial ties, in an operation that also builds the basis for familial transmission. It emphasizes general interest, which is born by the community, which prevailed over all other considerations “because everything is for the crown and good of the kingdom.” 32

  • 33 Robert Descimon and Alain Guery, “Un Etat des temps modernes ?” in: Jacques Le Goff (ed.), L'Etat e (...)

15 Since the non-joining of the king’s and queen’s possessions favored the kingdom as a whole, the image of a political marriage reveals how complex the legal status of the domain was, caught between its familial past (still operating out of the necessity of maintaining members of the Capetian dynasty with its own resources) and the fact that it belonged to the crown, obliging the king to “live off his own,” meaning the revenues accruing from his possessions, which was the norm for financing the kingdom’s expenses.33 By making an exceptional system that breaks with the usual distribution of marriage contracts, the metaphor re-enforces the connection between domain and kingdom and emphasizes the divorce with lineage-building by putting Capetian patrimony out of the control of the dynasty in power.

The challenge of the public

  • 34 Marie-France Renoux-Zagamé, Du droit de Dieu au droit de l’homme, Paris, PUF, 2003, especially Part (...)
  • 35 A common expression found, for example, in BNF Ms Fr. 16646, fol. 2v°.
  • 36 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 286v°.

16Intended to provide for the needs of the monarchy, the domain came under State affairs, which raises questions over its relationship to the personal, not regarding the family in this instance, but rather the confrontation between the individual and the collective. This perspective does not necessarily displace the boundary between public and private; it contributes to imagining the separation by taking charge of all degrees of collectivities in order to determine the perimeter of the res publica, of which the domain has become a component.34 And it is precisely because it is the “domain of the republic,”35 entirely devoted to the “good and utility of the public,”36 that it provides legal advisors with the means to think of unity as a counterpoint to a split leading to as many forms of individuation.

General interest, a higher principle

  • 37 BNF, Ms Dupuy 4, fol. 36. [attributed to attorney general Gilles Bourdin, who died in 1570].
  • 38 On the notion of common good in the Ancien Régime, see Alain Guery, “L’Etat, l’outil du bien commun (...)
  • 39 BNF, Ms Fr.16670, fol. 52 (probably written in the 1640s).
  • 40 BNF, Ms Fr. 22442, fol. 26 & v°. Plea by Estienne Pasquier, advocate at the parliament of Paris, on (...)
  • 41 BNF, Ms Dupuy 4, fol. 36v°.

17The inalienability of the domain is more than a limitation of royal power, according to theories on the constitution of the regime and the dangers of tyranny. Such a principle also allows the protection of property belonging to all, so that “all persons knowingly enjoying use of things of the domain and that are of the holy patrimony of the crown are supposed to be of bad faith and […] are held to all restitution of the fruits as illicit holders.”37 The illegitimacy attached to possession of a shared resource comes from its very nature. In that, Capetian inheritance, indissolubly composed of a territory and a power, cannot fall into private hands without diminishing the power of the State: the boundary seemed clear, it traced a relationship to the common good that was the perfect opposite of personal interest.38 Henceforth, that which strengthened the royal position was also that which weakened the monarch’s family. As a result, the Infanta of Spain’s claims pertaining to the Duchy of Brittany in the latter half of the sixteenth century were turned down because she was a foreigner and acting on her own behalf. The commentary is explicit: “if this difference was between private individuals and residents of the kingdom, it seems that the Infanta would have some semblance of right by custom. But being all public and all royal decided by the public rights of France, local customs do not settle these rights, only those of private individuals.”39 There is no appeal to this verdict: the community, representing the common good, was established before the Infanta’s demands. The argument mainly serves to settle family differences, but it also contributes to the preservation of collective interests. In another case, this time between the king and the duke of Lorraine, Etienne Pasquier responded that “the public interest is so great and so diffuse in all parts of the Kingdom that the honor of France can only allow that there be no exception and that no thing however small may be alienated from the domain and the full and absolute sovereignty of our King.”40 The preeminence of common values must be respected, “otherwise this would be a thing of perilous and pernicious consequence.”41

  • 42 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 293.
  • 43 Idem, fol. 292v°.
  • 44 See Mathieu Marraud’s article in this issue.
  • 45 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, fol. 13.

18There is no ambiguity in these texts, the priority accorded to the collectivity imposes sacrifice of all, and there was no hesitation in asserting that, “for the public good […] one may constrain the private individual to sell his possession.”42 This collectivity is not to be understood as the entire kingdom, however, as it takes a variety of forms each time it supports the general interest of those composing it. Taken as an absolute, the “public” takes an overarching character regardless of the space it in which it is used. Thus, “things purchased by the communities of towns for the use of the public cannot be withdrawn.”43 The difficulty relates to questions of scale, because a specific community, understood as a bounded group, may also assert positions that are not shared by others in the kingdom. Occupational groups and communities (as they are conceived by the six corps of merchants, for example44) are aligned with private individuals, even if they claim to speak for the benefit of all. And the king draws one of the sources of his legitimacy from this conception of “public,” by serving as guarantor of the common good beyond identity-based divisions. The fundamental law of the inalienability of the domain certainly structured monarchical authority, but this inalienability also bolstered sovereign power by making the king responsible for the collective, thus giving the king a more prominent position. According to Bizet, royal superiority is “so widespread that every member of the state, however low he may be, can necessarily see and feel it.” 45In the process, the author mentions all the components of a kingdom unified by a common destiny, forming a single entity without entirely abandoning a less overarching vision taking individualities into account.

  • 46 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, fol. 14v°.
  • 47 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, fol. 13v° & 14.

19Thus, the notion of public subsumes individuals or groups (of those forming as many disparate communities), through subscription to common values: its totalizing dimension is justified by the necessity of facing threats with a united front. The crumbling of the domain is one such threat. It is the subject of many long chapters by those writing on the theme in the early seventeenth century, who made connections between territory, revenue, and defense of the State. On one side, the increase in domain lands resulting from the policy of union to the crown benefits all subjects but the royal family, whose benefits are in the register of the private individual but are invalidated as soon as it is a matter of promoting the public good. It is everyone’s business, borne by “the continual wishes of the general of this very France,” so that “such reunions as very fair and important to the common welfare and to the good and utility of the public thing should be made and pursued necessarily excepting none.”46 On the other side, putting the kingdom back in order by disengaging parts of the domain alienated by war is the most certain path for continuity of the regime. It is a fact “that upon the means of such reunions of alienated domain and other patrimonial revenues and subsidiaries depends the handling of the state,” and all operating to “the advantage of the public thing.”47

Defense of the Kingdom, and engagement of all

  • 48 BNF, Ms Fr. 24098, fol. 96 & v°.
  • 49 Such as BNF, Ms Fr. 16634, fol. 76.
  • 50 BNF, Ms Fr. 24098, fol. 96 & v°.

20The protection of inhabitants being part of monarchical duty, royal patrimony provided a substantial contribution to border defense. Provided that they were favorably positioned close to the kingdom, some of these possessions passed to the state made it possible to extend the territory over which the king had direct control and thus reduce the risk of invasion. Inversely, if such territories were held by “feeble and non-Royal hands […] [they would] facilitate the entry to enemies and reduce neighboring provinces to continual fear.”48 Security concerns were part of the classic rhetoric for preserving the domain, focusing on such territory-wide coverage as well as the use of revenue for the maintenance of military installations and fortresses.49 Certain revenue streams were even earmarked for this use. In brief, the community benefitted the most from the growth of the domain, “and in truth, with such accessions, the Kingdom takes new strength growing in vigor, the ability to recognize the deserved possessions for the savings of their fruits increases and the means for opposing common enemies are re-enforced.”50

  • 51 Such as: BNF, Ms Fr. 16626, “Traité du Revenu et despence de France de l’année 1607,” fol. 72v°, wh (...)
  • 52 “For the king against the king,” wrote Jacques de La Guesle, Remonstrance [prononcée le 29 juillet (...)
  • 53 BNF, Ms Dupuy 4, fol. 18v°-19.
  • 54 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, fol. 26.

21There is a flip side, however. One of the main attributes of the domain is also what drags it down: supporting the costs of war and funding the conditions of peace. Recourse to exceptional taxes attests to the dominion’s inadequate resources; it generally came with pledging royal lands, sometimes to the point of exhausting royal resources. The theoretical viewpoint developed by legal advisors involves conditioning the perpetuity of the State on the careful management of its patrimony. In actual fact, the crown used all sorts of expediencies to survive during armed conflicts, and territorial possessions were the first in line. Deviation from monarchical rules led theorists to declare positions of principle that were soon amended by a string of exceptions imposed by the necessities of the moment.51 Just as an attorney general could speak in the name of the king but also against the king (when it was a matter of reuniting the possessions of Henri IV52), jurists allowed practices that threatened the republic when they occurred for its own good, using a similar logic to connect the treatment of the monarch and of the kingdom. When, at the peak of the Wars of Religion, Bourdin hazarded that “it is certain that the state of the crown of France consists principally of the conservation of the domain of the King and of the crown destined for him, and dedicated to the maintenance of peace, sustainment of war, comfort of subjects, public rest and tranquility,”53 he was declaring a precept that could only be contradicted by events of the time. These are the safeguards that join the commonly received idea “that it is more suitable and reasonable that his Majesty and his public thing prevail to the comfort of all of France.”54 They not only maintain the possibility of legal recourse to recover the alienated lands, but lend credibility to the existence of a common cause at a time of divisions. The community of subjects is a political lever offering the king a reason to act, even in ways that conform little to rules governing the domain.

  • 55 BNF, Ms Fr. 18553, fol. 6v°.
  • 56 Reference is made to Philippe le Bel, BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 169.
  • 57 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 15.
  • 58 BNF, Ms Dupuy 4, fol. 32.

22For some, absorbing patrimonial possessions into the domain reduces the king’s ability to distribute rewards and impedes the smooth operation of the State by limiting its expenditures. The advantages subjects might have enjoyed then turn to their disadvantage, since “the King, falling in prison, of war or public necessity, desiring to reward an old and faithful servant, or dealing with a foreign prince, he cannot have more rapid aid than from his personal domain of which he has free disposal.”55 For others, infringements on the fundamental law of inalienability are justified by a number of imperatives, all related to war. In addition to exceptional taxation, there was suspension of law. Examples gathered from the more or less recent past forced jurists to come over to this idea, but they always nuanced it, thus limiting its consequences. “Not only for the necessity of war but also in time of peace for the recompense of those who bore themselves valiantly at occasions, the domain may be alienated,” asserted Bizet, but relating to a case in the distant past.56 As to the “letters of François the first of the first of May 1519 [relative to the] sale of the domain for the necessity of war,” the court added several modifications and restrictions.57 In essence, one must not neglect situations of “peril in which case ad tempus alienations from the domain [might] be helpful even if the general rule resists it.”58

23The extreme and yet frequent case of war has the advantage of highlighting the constraints induced by the principle of inalienability and the problem of rewarding the loyal. In another form, it raises the issue of collective interest that should not prejudice the rights of private individuals. In their relationship to each other, the definition of the community as a collection of subjects does not invalidate the existence of the subject as an individual. For those writing on the topic, it was a matter of finding the right balance between the demands of the collective and the legitimate claims of men and women caught up in other rationales, thus reconciling the imperatives of the kingdom and those of the various communities composing it. Doctrinal debates on this topic, including those putting them into opposition, do not refute various levels of participation; to the contrary, they retain the necessity of thinking of the few within the whole. Attention to personal advantages led to this nuanced approach to the community, a public that is a whole composed of smaller wholes but also a patchwork of individualities and occupational identities. But cracks appear in this beautiful unity, rooted in the conception of a kingdom as a public space responsible for all these parties, when it is a matter of harmonizing contradictory imperatives and dissonant practices.

Respect for the rights of private individuals

  • 59 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 28.
  • 60 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, fol. 30.
  • 61 They are far from being the only ones, of course; these are old debates are representative of the p (...)

24Despite these precepts, monarchs’ uses of resources are far from being as rigorous as these authors would lead us to believe, and many of them changed their opinions upon studying specific examples. Some even admitted that “in matters of the domain certain resolution is difficult insomuch as there are a lot of things that should be judged for the public good or one must look at the merit of subjects, the will of the Prince, and with that the importance of the cause.”59 The uncertainty that comes with the practice is due to the necessity of not “breach[ing] natural justice [or] damage[ing] others without just cause.”60 Bizet and Choppin are particularly eloquent on this theme, attentive to maintaining a balance between royal power and the freedom of subjects, and thus between the needs of the kingdom and more individual expectations.61

  • 62 BNF, Ms Fr. 18255, fol. 35v°.
  • 63 BNF, Ms Fr. 16673, fol. 152.
  • 64 BNF, Ms Fr. 18255, fol. 40.

25These authors unsurprisingly put the royal family at the head of the line, referring directly to the obstacles encountered by tacit union. “The nature and right of the people has left each of them complete freedom in the disposition and dispensation of his possession and it would be a severe thing for the prince to take it away by its promotion to a more august dignity.”62 The references, to “the nature” and “right of the people,” is explicit, emphasizing the iniquity of depriving legitimate descendants of their inheritance. Concerning the “brothers and sisters of Kings, the rights that belong to them to the lands and goods are not at all altered by the elevation of their brother,”63 Galland asserted. It is a crucial question at the start of a new dynasty. Henri IV’s sister Catherine de Navarre had her eye on the heritable possessions of the Bourbons-Vendôme, while the king’s legitimate children could expect substantial benefits in land and lordships from their father. The princes who acceded to the throne still had duties to their own and “it would be unfair to despoil them of their own to the prejudice of their heirs.”64 There is a clash of rights here, and their reconciliation requires some arrangements.

  • 65 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 243v°.
  • 66 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 39 & 39v°.
  • 67 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 228v°.
  • 68  BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 40v°.

26The fate of families comes up against the interests of all when conviction risks leading the lineage, not just the guilty party, to its fall. Sentences must take account of collaterals, it “being unfair that the innocent children bear the penalty of their father’s fault.”65 Likewise, “when husbands’ possessions are confiscated, though for lèse-majesté, the wife’s share in the joint possessions and the dowry are not at all included.”66 This raises the whole issue of confiscations that advantage the republic, but without penalizing private individuals not involved in the crime. If one must consider that “less the revenue of the Domain [is diminished] the more the people is comforted by it, and the merits and services of the nobility better compensated,”67 it is also true that the punishments should be personal: general benefit notwithstanding, individuals’ rights should be preserved, and that is why, for example, “private individual inhabitants are not punishable for the fault of the principals of the town, nor should they lose their privileges, unless by a secret design they all conspired to the same end.”68

  • 69 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 234.
  • 70 BNF, Ms Fr. 16673, fol. 152.

27All these specific points are commonsense and concerned with equity, but without challenging the principles of the domain. They express, however, a complex relationship between individuals who were involved in the community but separated from it when their own interests were directly concerned. The need to find a balance led the weight of the law to be nuanced in order to re-establish the domain’s duality, a situation clearly manifest in this comment: “if the Royal seizure of inheritance is done for a cause other than the right of the domain, in this case the treasury where the King has no more right than another private individual.”69 The issues of debts contracted by the prince and the diversity of inheritances are vestiges of the past that accession to the throne alone cannot erase. The sovereign is bound to honor his debts, the present fortune also to be credited to lenders. “As to the creditors of the Prince or of his predecessors, they may receive no alteration, the increase of the title and honor to seigniory lands that were made Royal in no way harms or alters prior rights. The King called to the throne is obliged to satisfy those who helped him and the burden passes to the successor, and so that the contributed lands remain wholly to the state it is duty and conscience to satisfy them, by public authority.”70 The subject was developed at length to demonstrate the dangers of rejecting these debts rather than paying them. The exercise confers an economic rationale to the problem that ties in with the moral dimension, but in no way resolves the difficulty of reconciling the prince’s engagements and the needs of the kingdom, the transmutation of the royal person with assumption of the crown and the inversion of priority between the community and the private individual. “Public authority” is led to make decisions contrary to the “benefit of the public” in a schizophrenic but not illogical position.

Conclusion

28Of a feudal essence, a heritable nature, and family origins, the domain has all the qualities of a private possession liable to ensure the fortune of a lineage right through the domination of the kingdom. Legal advisors invested the public field and defined monarchical power by debating these characteristics. Fundamentally political, the issue of the domain thus led to a wealth of reflection on the engagements of power and its justifications, in a dynastic regime whose vocation was to ensure a public function, spurred by the fact that royalty had to reconcile two opposing imperatives: the first (which is the root of its authority) was the transmission of title and inheritance through the male line, and the second (which makes a position of absolute domination possible) consisted of emancipation from the first. This posture simultaneously explains the meaning that “public” takes in opposition to the private individual, and the exceptions that accompany its implementation. The theory cannot break from a past that has continued to shape modern France, to the point of confusing public and private affairs. Heritable offices and archives relating to public responsibilities kept in private hands both attest to this fact, in addition to the domain being destined to subsidize members of the reigning dynasty and support expenses of the State. From this perspective, once again, the favor the king dispensed around him justified fortunes in what would seem to be breach of trust by today’s standards. The boundary between the public and the private, despite its confrontation of the collective and the individual, was henceforth drawn more on the principle of common good, shared by all, and this is what makes the domain a particularly promising field of study. The status gradually acquired by the domain, ultimately leading to a form of dispossession for those that originally held it, and, in corollary, the destination to which its resources are assigned, moves it into a register in which the kingdom’s interests are vital.

29Considering boundaries leads to the establishment of a dividing line, but it is not exactly the same line that was retained in the nineteenth century. Paying attention to the context makes it possible to re-focus the problem on what preoccupied political theorists with the rise of absolutism, namely, the justification of a form of authority differing greatly from traditional frameworks of power. The dividing line is thus less rooted in the distinction between family interests (which we would readily describe as private) and the interests of the nation (defined as public), but is instead based on other rationales also resulting from consideration of social and spatial scales, in a confrontation of the private, the specific, the individual on one side and the collective of the political corps, whose unity is guaranteed by the king as its head, on the other. People, taken one by one or as a group, are certainly related to a private state; they are, however, participants in the public in a relationship of subordination that cedes primacy to the entire State. Rooted in the domain, the resources of the crown involved a collective engagement that no subtraction to the benefit of an individual could diminish. In this way, the unity of the kingdom was established as an ideal, and the public was opposed to breaking it up, the ultimate phase of disintegration.

  • 71 Except if it is downgraded; see Serge Guinchard and Thierry Debord, Lexique des termes juridiques P (...)

30Although it was still tied to the Capetians, the domain of the crown developed into a conception that achieved its ultimate fulfillment when it escaped the family’s grip after the Revolution. Property categorized as being in the public domain is, even today, “imprescriptable and inalienable”71 but henceforth at the disposal of the sovereign nation without any reference to the original dynasty, other than the lingering term “patrimony.” The domain is an indisputable legacy of a regime that developed in a way that provided the instruments of its depersonalization, and is a vector of the separation of public and private, but because this development was incomplete in the century of the absolute monarchy, the historian is obliged to redraw seemingly intangible boundaries.

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Notes

1 Claude Moatti, Respublica, histoire romaine de la chose publique, Paris, Fayard, 2018, “Introduction.”

2 In an approach developed by François Furet, La Révolution, 1770-1880, Paris, Hachette, coll. “Histoire de France,” tome 4, 1988.

3 His possessions are inherited through female lines, either directly from the king’s mother or from (great) grandmothers who married into the Capetian house in previous generations. Thus, via his father, a king could receive an inheritance coming from his paternal grandmother (or great-grandmother) in the same way that he could come into possession of property from his own mother. Patrimony could circulate solely in the maternal line, or from both the maternal and paternal lines thanks to inheritance from the maternal ascendants of the father. These possessions from women become part of the royal domain (of which the king is sovereign suzerain), while his accession to the crown makes him sovereign over the whole kingdom – including the royal domain. The contributions of female lines are essential to understanding the constitution of the royal domain.

4 Robert Descimon and Alain Guery, “Un Etat des temps modernes ?,” La longue durée de l’Etat, Jacques Le Goff (ed.), Histoire de la France. André Burguière and Jacques Revel (eds.), Paris, Seuil, 2000, p. 209-465.

5 René Choppin, De domanio franciae, Paris, Martin Le Jeune, 1574, translated into French for the first time from the 1605 Latin edition, entitled: Trois livres du domaine de la couronne de France, Paris, M. Sonnius, 1613.

6 René Choppin, Traité du domaine de la couronne de France. Reveu et corrigé en cette dernière édition plus exactement que dans l’edition de 1634, Paris, Louis Billaine, 1662, t. II, p. 19.

7 Guillaume Leyte, Domaine et domanialité publique dans la France médiévale (xiie-xve siècles), Strasbourg, Presses Universitaires de Strasbourg, 1996; Jacques Krynen, L’Empire du roi. Idées et croyances politiques en France, xiiie-xve siècle, Paris, Gallimard, 1993.

8 “Private patrimony, that is to say, private things […] and the sacred patrimony which is separated from private things.”

9 Recueil des anciens édicts et ordonnances du Roy, concernant les domaines et droicts de la Couronne. Avec les commentaires de Louis Carondas le Caron, et plusieurs Edits Déclarations, Arrests et Reglemens concernans le domaine de Sa Majesté et autres droits y joints, jusques a present, Paris, Th. Charpentier, Chr. Ballard and H. Charpentier, 1690, p. 2.

10 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, “De l’origine et authorité du patrimoine royal,” by Auguste Galland, (1640 ?), fol. 1.

11 BNF, Ms. Fr. 18553, fol. 1.

12 On this issue, cf. François Olivier-Martin, “La réunion de la Basse-Navarre à la couronne de France,” Annuario de Historia de Derecho Espanol, vol. 9, 1932, p. 249-289; Guillaume Leyte, op. cit., p. 207-217.

13 An excellent summary of these developments in table form can be found in A. Jouanna, La France du xvie siècle (1483-1598), Paris, PUF, 1996, p. 3.

14 Robert Descimon, “L’union au domaine royal et le principe d’inaliénabilité. La construction d’une loi fondamentale aux xvie et xviie siècles,” Droits. Revue française de théorie juridique, n° 22, 1995, p. 79-90.

15 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, “Mémoire sur le domaine (1608)” by Bizet, fol. 13v°.

16 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, fol. 13.

17 For example, BNF, Ms Fr. 16642, “Memoire des Principaute Duchez Marquisatz Comtez Baronnies Chastellenies Villes Chasteaux fiefs terres et seigneuries sur lesquels le Roy peut pretendre droict pour la reunion d’iceux au Domaine de sa Couronne par quels moyens ils y sont venus antiennement comme ils en ont esté distraicts par Apanages dons engagemens et autrement par qui ils sont maintenant possedez. Le tout tiré des Histoires et des tiltres estans au tresor des chartres du Roy” (Report on the principalities, duchies, marquisates, counties, baronies, chatelaincies, castle towns, fiefs, lands, and seignories over which the King may claim right for the reunion of them to the Domaine of his Crown [and] by which means they arrived in the past since they were extracted by Privileges gifts engagements and otherwise by those who now possess them. All drawn from the Histories and titles being in the treasury of the charters of the King).

18 Aurélie du Crest, Modèle familial et pouvoir monarchique (xvie-xviiie siècles), Aix-en-Provence, Presses Universitaires d’Aix-Marseille, 2002.

19 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 31v°.

20 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 32 & v°.

21 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 28.

22 BNF, Ms Fr. 16670, fol. 54.

23 This question is far from simple. V. Alexandre Deroche, L’Apanage royal en France à l’époque moderne, Paris, Editions Panthéon Assas, 2013.

24 BNF, Ms 23948, fol. 12. See also René Choppin (op. cit., p. 18), who gives several examples.

25 For example, BNF, Mss Fr. 10830, fol. 185v°” “joint ownership is never stipulated in the marriage contract of our Kings and everyone agrees in saying that the King and the Queen do not put their possessions in common.”

26 For more on this issue in geenral and theorists of the political marriage of the king and the crown, cf. Robert Descimon, “Les fonctions de la métaphore du mariage politique du roi et de la république (France xve-xviiiie siècle),” Annales E.S.C., n° 6, 1992, p. 1127-1147.

27 Cardin Le Bret, De la souveraineté du Roy, Paris, Jacques Quesnoy, 1632, p. 47.

28 Jean de Marnix, Resolutions politiques et maximes d'Estat, Rouen, 1620, p. 224.

29 Jacques de La Guesle, Remonstrances, Paris, 1611, p. 595.

30 BNF, Ms Fr. 18255, « Traicté de Monsieur Servin advocat et general au Parlement de Paris touchant l’origine de la convocation des Estat generaux de France. Avec l’union de l’ancien domaine de Navarre a la couronne de France », fol. 33v°-34.

31 For more on the consequences for the queen, cf. Fanny Cosandey, La Reine de France, symbole et pouvoir, Paris, Gallimard, 2000.

32 Jean Du Tillet, Memoires et recherches, Rouen, 1578, p. 138.

33 Robert Descimon and Alain Guery, “Un Etat des temps modernes ?” in: Jacques Le Goff (ed.), L'Etat et les pouvoirs, Histoire de la France, t. II, André Burguière and Jacques Revel (eds.), Paris, Seuil, 1989, p. 181-356.

34 Marie-France Renoux-Zagamé, Du droit de Dieu au droit de l’homme, Paris, PUF, 2003, especially Part 2, Title II, Chapter 3.

35 A common expression found, for example, in BNF Ms Fr. 16646, fol. 2v°.

36 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 286v°.

37 BNF, Ms Dupuy 4, fol. 36. [attributed to attorney general Gilles Bourdin, who died in 1570].

38 On the notion of common good in the Ancien Régime, see Alain Guery, “L’Etat, l’outil du bien commun,” in Pierre Nora (dir.), Les Lieux de mémoire, Paris, Gallimard, édition Quarto, 1997, t. III “Les France,” p. 4545-4587.

39 BNF, Ms Fr.16670, fol. 52 (probably written in the 1640s).

40 BNF, Ms Fr. 22442, fol. 26 & v°. Plea by Estienne Pasquier, advocate at the parliament of Paris, on the subject of royal rights claimed by the Duke of Lorraine (1572).

41 BNF, Ms Dupuy 4, fol. 36v°.

42 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 293.

43 Idem, fol. 292v°.

44 See Mathieu Marraud’s article in this issue.

45 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, fol. 13.

46 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, fol. 14v°.

47 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, fol. 13v° & 14.

48 BNF, Ms Fr. 24098, fol. 96 & v°.

49 Such as BNF, Ms Fr. 16634, fol. 76.

50 BNF, Ms Fr. 24098, fol. 96 & v°.

51 Such as: BNF, Ms Fr. 16626, “Traité du Revenu et despence de France de l’année 1607,” fol. 72v°, which specifies that “the Domain has been alienated since the civil wars as everyone knows.”

52 “For the king against the king,” wrote Jacques de La Guesle, Remonstrance [prononcée le 29 juillet 1591, slnd; quoted and remarked upon by Robert Descimon, “L’union au domaine royal…,” art. cit., p. 81.

53 BNF, Ms Dupuy 4, fol. 18v°-19.

54 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, fol. 26.

55 BNF, Ms Fr. 18553, fol. 6v°.

56 Reference is made to Philippe le Bel, BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 169.

57 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 15.

58 BNF, Ms Dupuy 4, fol. 32.

59 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 28.

60 BNF, Ms Dupuy 78, fol. 30.

61 They are far from being the only ones, of course; these are old debates are representative of the political thought of the Ancien Régime. See, for example, Arlette Jouanna, Le Pouvoir absolu. Naissance de l’imaginaire politique de la royauté, Paris, Gallimard, 2013.

62 BNF, Ms Fr. 18255, fol. 35v°.

63 BNF, Ms Fr. 16673, fol. 152.

64 BNF, Ms Fr. 18255, fol. 40.

65 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 243v°.

66 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 39 & 39v°.

67 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 228v°.

68  BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 40v°.

69 BNF, Ms Fr. 23948, fol. 234.

70 BNF, Ms Fr. 16673, fol. 152.

71 Except if it is downgraded; see Serge Guinchard and Thierry Debord, Lexique des termes juridiques Paris, Dalloz, 2011, p. 295.

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Fanny Cosandey, « What is the boundary between public and private? Some reflections, based on the royal domain », L’Atelier du Centre de recherches historiques [En ligne], 22 bis | 2021, mis en ligne le 15 février 2021, consulté le 28 février 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/acrh/12211 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/acrh.12211

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Fanny Cosandey

Historian of the modern period, Fanny Cosandey is Professor at EHESS. Her work addresses the French monarchy of the sixteenth through eighteen centuries, probing the relationship between the theory and practice of power in the royal family, from transmission of the throne to the formation of a so-called “modern” state, in social and political history. She analyses the dynastic nature of a regime that built sovereignty by breaking free of the personal ties and inherited possessions that were nonetheless the very bases of royal power. She has published La Reine de France, symbole et pouvoir (Gallimard, Bibliothèque des Histoires, 2000), Monarchies espagnole et Française (co-authored with Isabelle Poutrin, Atlande, 2001), L'Absolutisme en France. Histoire et historiographie (co-authored with Robert Descimon, Le Seuil, 2002) and Le Rang, Préséances et hiérarchies dans la France d’Ancien Régime (Gallimard, Bibliothèque des Histoires, 2016).

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