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Friday, May 3, 2013

Claude Joly and the fronde

The most prominent rebellions in the mid-seventeenth century France were those of the nobles and the judges and known as the fronde. The leading theoretician of the parliamentary (judges’) fronde was Claude Joly, whose Receuil de maximes veritables was published in 1653. Joly's treatise was a collection of constitutionalist maxims, remnants of a pre-absolutist age, and included trenchant attacks on two contributions of Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin to political thought and practice in France. One was the new notion that the king is rightly the master – in effect the owner – of the persons and property of all inhabitants of France. The other was the Machiavellian view that successful public policy requires the systematic use of immoral means.

The king's power, warned Joly, is limited and not automatically sanctioned by divine law. Frenchmen possess just title to their lives and properties, and are not the slaves of a despot or tyrant. The king's original divine power is mediated through the French people, Joly added, and the king cannot rightfully tax the French without the consent of the states-general. The fact that Joly was reviled by the king and his party as a rebel and a traitor, he declared, shows that the old constitution has been overcome by new views holding the king to have unlimited authority above all law. For Joly, this new view was ‘pure usurpation’, bred in the monstrous cauldron of ‘Machiavel’

Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought (2 volume set)

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