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France before 1789The Unraveling of an Absolutist Regime$
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Jon Elster

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691149813

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691149813.001.0001

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The Royal Government and the Courts

The Royal Government and the Courts

(p.139) Chapter Four The Royal Government and the Courts
France before 1789

Jon Elster

Princeton University Press

This chapter provides a more general discussion of the royal government. It discusses the psychology of absolute power that is utterly different from the psychology of ordinary citizens or subjects. It focuses on the obstacles and constraints on the power of the royal government due to unwritten constitutional laws. The chapter argues that the psychology of the kings was in a sense self-defeating, in that their search for glory caused them to make choices that tended to diminish it. It also explains how royal officials were considered unreliable tools for the implementation of policy. This chapter ends by covering the mechanisms by which the courts could obstruct the king's will.

Keywords:   royal government, absolute power, self-defeating psychology, king's will, royal officials

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