Lettre de cachet

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Lettres de cachet are sealed letters signed by the French king in the history of France . This letter was the written statement of a royal mandate and declaration of will; this then often led to imprisonment without trial, exile or internment of undesirable persons.

The Comédie-Française was founded on October 21, 1680 by a Lettre de cachet by King Louis XIV . Other examples of lettres de cachet are the infamous arrest warrants issued by the kings of France before the revolution of 1789, by which unpopular people were expelled from Paris and the country or taken to the Bastille or other state prison without judgment .

Lettre de cachet signed by Louis XV , summoned from 1759 for the imprisonment of Jean-François Marmontel . He was arrested in the Bastille (December 28, 1759 to January 7, 1760) for 11 days for a satire against the Duc d'Aumont.

Royal letters ( French lettres royales ) were divided into lettres patentes , i.e. open letters , and lettres de cachet , i.e. sealed letters. The former were always written on parchment , bore the king's signature and the counter-signature of a minister, were not folded, but only bent at the edge and had the large state seal printed on it. The lettres de cachet , on the other hand, were written on paper either in the name or on behalf of the king, with no other control than the signature of a minister, and sealed with the small royal seal. It was, especially since Louis XIV., Render harmless to unpopular people, driven such a huge misuse of these letters that the lieutenant général usually the police in advance-built Lettres had, in which he of enrolling only the name subject to arrest. But this arrest was often also a royal grace, as the person concerned was removed from justice, as was the case with the Marquis de Sade, for example . The lettres de cachet were abolished by a decree of the National Assembly in June 1789, but reintroduced in 1811 by Napoléon Bonaparte .


  • Bernard Barbiche : Les Institutions de la monarchie française à l'époque moderne . 2nd Edition. PUF, Paris 2001, ISBN 2-13-051940-7 .
  • Arlette Farge , Michel Foucault : Le Désordre des familles. Lettres de cachet des Archives de la Bastille au XVIIIe siècle . Gallimard Julliard, Paris 1982, ISBN 2-07-023362-6 , ( Collection Archives 91).
  • Michel Foucault : Monitoring and Punishing. The birth of the prison . Emphasis. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-518-38771-9 , ( Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch 2271).
  • Auguste Puis : Les Lettres de cachet à Toulouse au dix-huitième siècle, d'après les documents conservés aux Archives départementales . E. Champion, Paris 1914.
  • Claude Quétel: De par le Roy. Essai sur les lettres de cachet . Private, Toulouse 1982, ISBN 2-7089-9008-X .
  • Gabriel de Riqueti : Des lettres de cachet et des prisons d'état . Paris 1782.
  • Brian E. Strayer: Lettres de Cachet and Social Control in the Ancien Regime, 1659–1789 , Peter Lang, New York NY et al. 1992, ISBN 0-8204-1706-8 , ( American university studies 9).

Web links

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