Paris Parlement

Following the failure of the proposed tax reforms to be approved by the Assembly of Notables, the new Comptroller-General de Brienne took them directly to the Paris Parlement, which was the most important of all 13 parlements. A parlement was a court of appeal which registered royal edict into law.

On 2 July 1787, the Paris Parlement rejected de Brienne’s reforms, once again citing that it did not have the authority to approve such measures, and only an Estates-General would.  In response, King Louis XVI tried to exercise his absolute power through a lit de justice, which was a mechanism through which the monarch could force a parlement to register his edict. However, in a radical and unprecedented move, the Paris Parlement declared that the King’s lit de justice was invalid on 6 August 1787. Affronted, on 15 August 1787, the King exiled all members of the Paris Parlement to Troyès (a town southeast of Paris), who were subsequently allowed to return and sit once again in September 1787, after a compromise was reached between the Parlement and de Brienne, partially in response to public outrage at the dismissal of those who they thought were the defenders of the Third Estate.

Following this, there was yet another lit de justice by the King on 17 November 1787, once again nullified by the Paris Parlement. This caused there to be a Séance Royal (Royal Session) on 19 November 1787 where the Paris Parlement resisted royal mandate once more and refused to register the reforms. Indeed during late 1787 and early 1788, the Parlement had issued several remonstrances to the King, which were very traditional, formal and flowery documents stating the reasons for which they were not able to register his edict. However, while remonstrances had been a private legal mechanism in place for centuries, the key difference now was that these documents were made public, thus openly challenging the King’s authority.

On 8 May 1788, the Paris Parlement invalidated the King’s third lit de justice which prompted Louis XVI to suspend all parlements (that is, the Paris Parlement and all regional parlements), as he was opposed to allowing an Estates-General to be involved in this reform process.

This whole period of blatant defiance was labelled the ‘Aristocratic Revolt’, as it was spearheaded by those of the Second Estate.

See Also

Assembly of Notables

Louis XVI