Chancellor of France

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The Chancellor of France ( Chancelier de France ) was an important figure in the Ancien Régime ; in the of King Heinrich III. In the order established in 1582, he took second place in the list of major offices of the Crown of France behind the Connétable of France , after the dissolution of this office in 1626 consequently first place.

Area of ​​responsibility

The chancellor kept the king's seal and supervised the royal offices. Above all, he was in charge of the judiciary in the kingdom, so he was a kind of minister of justice. Since the middle of the 16th century, the office was in principle granted for life.

His most important role was that of the chairman of the royal council ( conseil du roi ). In particular, he presided over the King's Privy Council ( Conseil privé ), which the King almost never visited and in which the Chancellor acted on his behalf - it was commonly called the King's mouth . Although he had a seat on all councils in principle, he no longer took part in the supreme council ( Conseil d'En-haut ) from 1661 (the beginning of the sole rule of Louis XIV ).

Later he was - under the influence of Colbert - also excluded from all financial affairs of the state.

Since the Chancellor held his office for life, he could not be removed. The king could only withdraw his office in whole or in part to revocably entrust it to a deputy, the keeper of the seals of France ( Garde des Sceaux ). This was considered a potential candidate for the Chancellery in the event of the incumbent's death.

The office

The following were subordinate to the Chancellor for support:

  • for the seal, the maîtres des requêtes (who were responsible for petitions and petitions) and the officials belonging to the office;
  • for the advisory boards, the councilors of state ( Conseillers d'État ), maîtres des requêtes , clerks ( secrétaires-greffiers ), lawyers and public servants;
  • the councils of state and maîtres des requêtes for legislative and judicial work

List of Chancellors

Carolingian Arch Chancellor (in Franconia and West Franconia )

Capetian Chancellor

Seal keeper

In the 13th century and until 1316 the chancery was headed by the keeper of the seal (see Keeper of the Seal of France )

Capetian Chancellor

  • Pierre d'Arabloy, Archdeacon of Narbonne, 1316
  • Piere de Chappes, Chamberlain of Laon, 1317-1321
  • Jean de Cherchemont , Dean of Poitiers, 1320–1321
  • Pierre Rodier, Canon of Meaux , 1321–1323
  • Jean de Cherchemont , Dean of Poitiers, 2nd time, 1323-1328

Chancellor of the Valois


Chancellor of the Bourbons


  • Jean Favier : Dictionnaire de la France médiévale, pp. 236–238 (until 1507)

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