French royal acts printed before 1601
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This thesis is a study of royal acts printed in French before 1601. The kingdom of France is a natural place to begin a study of royal acts. It possessed one of the oldest judicial systems in Europe, which had been established during the reign of St Louis (1226-1270). By the sixteenth century, French kings were able to issue royal acts without any concern as to the distribution of their decrees. In addition, France was one of the leading printing centres in Europe. This research provides the first detailed analysis of this neglected category of texts, and examines the acts’ significance in French legal, political and printing culture. The analysis of royal acts reveals three key historical practices regarding the role of printing in judiciary matters and public affairs. The first is how the French crown communicated to the public. Chapters one and two discuss the royal process of dissemination of edicts and the language of royal acts. The second is how printers and publishers manoeuvred between the large number of royal promulgations and public demand. An overview of the printing industry of royal acts is provided in chapter three and the printers of these official documents are covered in chapter four. The study of royal acts also indicates which edicts were published frequently. The last two chapters examine the content of royal decrees and discuss the most reprinted acts. Chapter five explores the period before 1561 and the final chapter discusses the last forty years of the century. An appendix of all royal acts printed before 1601, which is the basis of my research for this study, is included. It is the first comprehensive catalogue of its kind and contains nearly six thousand entries of surviving royal acts printed before 1601.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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