1777-1778 French Witness Statement Regarding a Case Investigation Under Old French Law

1777-1778 French Witness Statement Regarding a Case Investigation Under Old French Law

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On offer is a fascinating legal document dating from the years immediately preceding the French Revolution.

The document is a 4-page statement written on cream-coloured laid paper. The paper measures approximately 9.75 inches by 7.25 inches and is formed from a single sheet of paper. The document itself occupies 2 and a half pages. It bears a stamp on the front, although the stamp is not clear. The handwriting is reasonably legible.

The document is a deposition taken from a witness in a legal action related to property  in rural France. There are references to other landowners in the region. An excerpt follows:

“Lasdevant de le Notaire Royal a Gardegan enquisune soussigne temoins presants le quatorzieme de mois de Novembre mille sept cents soixante dix sept apres [ ] au village du Lin parroisse de Salles Jurisdiction de Castillon...:” [p 1]. 

“In the presence of the Royal Notary at Gardegan, an undersigned witness was present on the fourteenth day of November, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven after [ ] in the village of Le Lin in the parish of Salles under the jurisdiction of Castillon…” [Translation]. 

These proceedings would have taken place under what is known as Old French law, referred to in French as l'Ancien Droit. This was the law of the Kingdom of France until the French Revolution. In the north of France were the Pays de coutumes ('customary countries'), where customary laws were in force. The document is signed in November of 1777 and again in February of 1778. 

In the south, where Castillon is located, were the Pays de droit écrit ('countries of written law'), where Roman law had remained paramount.

Legal practices and customs varied wildly across France in the 18th century leading Voltaire to declared that ‘in travelling through France one changed the laws as often as one changed horses’.

For a legal historian or one who is focused on the French judiciary of the dying days of the Ancien Regime, this is a classic example of the French judiciary at work. It would be an excellent addition to a professional’s library. French language. 

Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information or to request photos. (Kindly include the SKU, listed on this page above the price, in your e-mail so we can more easily answer your questions.)

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