De Lamoignon on the power of the king (1787)


An extract from a November 1787 speech given by Chretien-Francois de Lamoignon, the minister for justice:


“These principles, universally accepted by the nation, prove:

That sovereign power in his kingdom belongs to the king alone;

That he is accountable only to God for the exercise of supreme power;

That the link that unites the king and the nation is by nature indissoluble;

That the reciprocal interests and duties of the king and his subjects ensure the perpetuity of this union;

That the nation has a vested interest that the rights of its ruler remain unchanged;

That the king is the sovereign ruler of the nation and is one with it;

Finally, that legislative power resides in the person of the sovereign, depending on and sharing with no-one.

These, sirs, are the invariable principles of the French monarchy… It results from these ancient maxims of the nation, testified to on each page of our history:

That the right to convene the Estates-General belongs to the king alone;

That he alone must judge whether such a convocation is useful or necessary;

That he needs no special powers to administer his kingdom;

That a king of France, in the representatives of the three orders of the State, would find only a more wide-ranging advisory council…

When our kings established the parlements, sirs, they wished to appoint officers whose duty it was to administer justice and to maintain the edicts of the kingdom – and not to build up a power to rival royal authority.”