Sorcellerie et justice criminelle: Le Parlement de Paris (16e–18e siècles), 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Sorcellerie et justice criminelle

Le Parlement de Paris (16e–18e siècles), 1st Edition

By Alfred Soman


352 pages

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Hardback: 9780860783206
pub: 1992-04-30
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The Parlement of Paris was the largest secular court in Christendom. Although its criminal archives have been preserved virtually intact, historians of the period of the great witch trials, as well as scholars of the Ancien Régime in general, have been discouraged by the notorious difficulties of research into them, and have effectively avoided these records. Alfred Soman was the first historian to have undertaken the task. In the fifteen articles republished here, which include both detailed investigations of particular cases and broad-ranging overviews, he contends that criminal justice in the 16th- and 17th-century France was far more humane and less severe than traditional assumptions would suggest. As early as 1588, the High Court began to take steps to restrain indiscriminate witch hunting, particularly in the eastern provinces where prosecutions were instigated not in conformity with, but in defiance of, the highest judicial authority in the land. Le Parlement de Paris, la plus grande cour de justice de l’Occident, nous a légué ses archives criminelles quasiment intactes. Pourtant les historiens des procès de sorcellerie, ainsi que les spécialistes des aspects institutionnels et sociaux de l’Ancien Régime, découragés par les difficultés notoires de la recherche, ont évité l’exploitation de ces documents. Alfred Soman est le premier chercheur à en avoir relevé de défi. Dans cette série de quinze articles, qui comprennent des enquêtes détaillés, ainsi que des essais de synthèse, il soutient que l’ancienne justice a été beaucoup plus clémente et moins ’injuste’ que de vieilles idées reçues ne le prétendent. Dès 1588, la Haute Cour commença à réprimer les nombreuses poursuites pour faits de sorcellerie, plus particulièrement dans l’Est du royaume, où certains sièges subalternes entamaient des actions criminelles intempestatives, prenant le contre-pied de la politique mise en place par le Pouvoir judiciaire central.


'…represents a very important contribution on the two major fronts indicated by the title. Soman’s work is in many ways a remarkable demonstration of historical method.' English Historical Review

Table of Contents

Contents: Avant-propos; Les procès de sorcellerie au Parlement de Paris (1565-1640); The Parlement of Paris and the great witch hunt (1565-1640); La sorcellerie vue du Parlement de Paris au début du XVIIe siècle; Deviance and criminal justice in Western Europe, 1300-1800: an essay in structure; Le Registre consistorial de Coutras, 1582-1584; Aux origines de l’appel de droit dans l’Ordonnance criminelle de 1670; La justice criminelle aux XVIe-XVIIe siècles: le Parlement de Paris et les sièges subalternes; Pathologie historique: le témoignage des procès de bestialité aux XVIe-XVIIe siècles; La querelle de l’antimoine: Guy Patin sur la sellette; Un bûcher pour un judaïsant: Jean Fontanier (1621); Le témoignage maquillé: encore un aspect de l’infra-justice à l’époque moderne; La décriminalisation de la sorcellerie en France; Trente procès de sorcellerie dans le Perche (1566-1624); Le rôle des Ardennes dans la décriminalisation de la sorcellerie en France; Decriminalizing witchcraft: does the French experience furnish a European model?; Corrigenda et addenda; Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

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