2012 Volume 121 Issue 12 Pages 2001-2033
The purpose of this article is to consider the provincial governance of the French monarchy during the second half of the 18th century by analyzing the procedures of the circuit of the Parlement of Toulouse within its jurisdiction in the aftermath of the Revolte des Masques Armes at Languedoc in 1783. A lot of the former research on provincial administration in the eighteenth century argued that governance had been centralized around the monarchy via the appointments of royal agents (intendants) throughout the realm. However, there are recent studies that have reexamined the functions of these intendants, attracting interest to how the local powers took part in the monarchy's system of provincial governance. The present article focuses on the administrative roles of the Parlement, which is seen not only as representing the provinces, but also existing as a rival to the king. It attempts to analyze the way in which local powers, including the Parlement, supported the provincial rule exercised by the monarchy. Based on this analysis, the author shows that the Parlement's mission was by no means limited to solving the problems caused by the Revolte. It was of course expected by the monarchy and local powers to pacify the local order in the area influenced by the Revolte, but it was also expected to solve the everyday conflicts that arose among the inhabitants throughout its jurisdiction. Though much of the conventional research has emphasized a confrontational relationship between the Parlement and the monarchy, on the eve of the French Revolution of 1789, the Parlement contributed to the king's reign over the provinces by rebuilding the local order after the Revolte, and the king depended on the power and authority of the Parlement as the linchpin of provincial governance. That being said, it is also clear that the Parlement's administrative capabilities in eastern Languedoc, which was the center of the Revolte and far from Toulouse, definitely had their limits. The Circuit of Parlement developed by the power of Provincial Estats and its network of communities. Furthermore, the commandant en chef, who functioned as the king's agent and also as the intendant, not only intermediated between the king and the local powers, but also helped to connect the local powers with each other during it mission, thus making the governance of Languedoc by the monarchy more effective. In sum, we can identify a degree of collaboration between the king and the local powers in the area of provincial governance during the second half of the 18th century.