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Élites et pouvoirs : enjeux politiques

Le personnel de la chambre des comptes de Bretagne en conflit (années 1589-1591)

Dominique Le Page


In Brittany as in most provinces, the revolt of the League gave rise to some division within the main sovereign courts. Thus, two accounting Chambers were constituted : the bigger one followed the Duke of Mercœur (the governor of the province) in his rebellion and remained in Nantes, while the other, which was favourable to Henry IV, set up in Rennes. The avaible documents at the départemental archives of Nantes make it possible to know the conditions under wich the scission of the institution occured and to consider the motives of the various officer's choice. In thus appears that, far frome being the consequence of a brutal rupture, the setting up of the two Chambers underwent laborious changes and the two rival institutions only reached some stability in 1591. Yet, a clear split appeared between the greater officers — presidents and masters — on the one hand, most of whom remained faithful to the King, an subordinate officers — auditors, for the most part — on the other hand, who where more often favourable to the League. If such a division is partly due to a social opposition — on account of the varying purchase prices of offices —, a diversified geographical recruitment of officers, family solidarity, it also results from the evolution led to a division of labour wich was accompanied by increasing hierarchies among the personnel. Beyond mere spirituals reasons, the fact that subordinate officers joined Mercœur can thus be considered as a form of protest against the strengthening of the absolute monarchy ; it leads us to ponder over the attitudes of the sovereign courts in the days of the League, and to wonder whether the tensions that where expressed then did not betray — as was the case in Brittany — an attachment to a collegial ruling that was being challenged by the centralization process of the royal power.

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Electronic reference

Dominique Le Page, « Le personnel de la chambre des comptes de Bretagne en conflit (années 1589-1591) », Cahiers d'histoire [Online], 45-4 | 2000, Online since , connection on 02 August 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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