29 May 2018

JOURNAL: Legal History in French History (June 2018)

(image source: Oxford Journals)

French History (Oxford Journals) published two articles of interest to legal historians in its latest issue:

  • ‘The law must never be a game for fair and upright men in a Republic’: revolutionary justice in Lyon 1792–3' (Julie Patricia Johnson);
    Abstract: This article examines escalating civil conflict expressed through new judicial processes in Lyon in 1792–3. National legislation in 1791 had promised a significant new focus on judicial rights of the citizen. One of the central changes was the election of a juge de paix (justice of the peace) in each canton to deliver swift justice in smaller civil and criminal cases and an investigative role in more serious prosecutions heard in the higher courts. Initially, both electors and early incumbents of the position embraced these changes enthusiastically but the magistrates of Lyon soon divided over social and political issues. The transition to a more democratic system of justice exposed deep disagreement about how to advance revolutionary change and led to fears and conflict that contributed significantly to a deteriorating political situation and ultimately to the bloody repression of Lyon.
  • 'Creating and resisting the Terror: the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal, March–June 1793' (Alex Fairfax-Cholmeley):
    Abstract: The Paris Revolutionary Tribunal was a key institution of the Terror during the French Revolution, as evidenced by the show trials of Jacques-Pierre Brissot and Georges Danton. However, the early history of this central cog in the machinery of revolutionary justice merits renewed study. This article combines analysis of the National Convention debates that led to the Tribunal’s creation with the court’s subsequent caseload and daily practices during its first two months in operation. I argue that the Convention surrendered the initiative to other actors, allowing them to influence the record of the new court. These included both the institution’s personnel (e.g. Antoine Fouquier-Tinville, the public prosecutor) and the suspects they were investigating as potential counter-revolutionaries. Defence activity was widespread and influential, and this meant that the developing system of revolutionary justice actually encouraged a culture of resistance to repression, even as it contributed to France’s slide into the Terror.
More information with Oxford Journals.

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