abbé — a cle­ri­cal title requi­ring ton­sure but not neces­sa­rily vows, and desi­gna­ting no spe­ci­fic func­tion within the Church.

advan­tage (avan­tage) — Especially in the context of mar­ria­ges and tes­ta­ments, this word can have a fairly tech­ni­cal sense deno­ting par­ti­cu­lar kinds of legal details : “In terms of juris­pru­dence, what one gives to someone over and above ano­ther as a share, suc­ces­sion, or other­wise. This father gave much advan­tage to his youn­ger chil­dren at the expense of the eldest. Great indi­rect advan­ta­ges that mar­ried cou­ples give each other are for­bid­den.” (Furetière.)

ædile (édile) — “Roman offi­cer whose func­tion cor­res­pon­ded more or less to that of our mayors and échevins [q.v.]” (Trévoux).

agency (régie) — Direct taxa­tion by govern­ment, as oppo­sed to tax far­ming (ferme), where pri­vate contrac­ters do the col­lec­ting.

allod (aleu) — A free­hold, i.e., a fully owned estate, one on which no sei­gnio­rial duties are paid.

amor­ti­za­tion (amor­tis­se­ment) — “A par­don or conces­sion which the king makes by let­ters patent to a per­pe­tual com­mu­nity [gens de main­morte], such as chur­ches and com­mu­ni­ties, to keep fiefs and lega­cies in per­pe­tuity, without any obli­ga­tion to put them out of their hands, in exchange for a sum which is paid him as com­pen­sa­tion for pro­fits and confis­ca­tions which would devolve to him in the chan­ges that would be made if they remai­ned in ordi­nary com­merce.” (Trévoux.) See also mort­main below.

antrus­tion (antrus­tion) — Similar to leude (q.v.) : a high-ran­king vas­sal of the king. “I have spo­ken of those volun­teers who, among the Germans, fol­lo­wed the prin­ces in their enter­pri­ses. The same prac­tice conti­nued after the conquest. Tacitus desi­gna­tes them by the name of com­pa­nions, the Salic law by the name of men who owe fealty to the king, the for­mu­la­ries of Marculfus the name of antrus­tions of the king, our first his­to­rians by the name of leu­des and fide­les, and those fol­lo­wing by the name of vas­sals and lords.” (Spirit of Law, XXX, 116.)

assize (assi­ses) — More or less the equi­va­lent of appe­late court. “The dis­tinc­tion used to be made bet­ween two sorts of assem­blies of jus­tice : ordi­nary ones, which were cal­led plaids, and extra­or­di­nary ones, which were cal­led assi­zes. The lat­ter used to judge in last recourse […]” (Ferrière, I, 178.)

advan­tage (avan­tage) — “In terms of juris­pru­dence, advan­tage is the name given to what is given to one per­son over and above ano­ther as a divi­sion or suc­ces­sion. […] Indirect advan­ta­ges of spou­ses to each other are for­bid­den.” (Trévoux.)

bar­ba­rian (bar­bare) — A term which for the Greeks and Romans gene­rally meant forei­gners, later applied to seve­ral nor­thern nations. “The Burgundians and the Franks who set­tled in the Gauls were cal­led bar­ba­rians. The Goths of Italy were also cal­led bar­ba­rians. […] Our Gauls who were sub­jects of the Romans cal­led bar­ba­rians the Germanic nations that lived beyond the Rhine. […] Finally, the ene­mies of the state and those who were not Catholics were cal­led bar­ba­rians. Those who were cal­led bar­ba­rians in the Gauls under the Roman empe­rors were not the native Gauls but peo­ples from Germania whom the empe­rors had brought in to till the land.” (Trévoux.) Note that the term also is used with the conno­ta­tions of sava­gery and oppo­si­tion to civi­li­za­tion.

bene­fice (béné­fice) — “A cer­tain por­tion of the pro­per­ties of the Church assi­gned to an eccle­sias­ti­cal per­son to enjoy during his life­time, as retri­bu­tion for the ser­vice he ren­ders or must ren­der to the Church” (Trévoux).

capi­tu­lary (capi­tu­laire) — “The Capitularies of Charlemagne, of Louis the Pious, and of Charles the Bald were names given to various arti­cles of laws, both eccle­sias­ti­cal and civil, made by those empe­rors. They were made in Estates General or in coun­cils, by the autho­rity of the prin­ces and the consent of the peo­ples. Some dis­tin­guish them from laws, saying that they were only their sup­ple­ments. They recei­ved this name because they were set out by sec­tions or by chap­ters.” (Furetière.)

cens — In both Latin and French, this word has had various mea­nings : quota, capi­ta­tion, poll tax, rent, cen­sus or civic regis­try. Therefore, given the many pos­si­ble ambi­gui­ties, it (as well as cen­sus) have been kept in ita­lics throu­ghout.

cen­sus — An annual duty paid to one’s lord. See also cens.

cen­sor (cen­seur) — “Used to be one of the pre­mier magis­tra­tes of Rome, who over­saw the public inte­rest and the cor­rec­tion of morals” (Furetière).

cen­te­na­rius (cen­te­nier) — A Roman chief who com­man­ded one hun­dred men (Trévoux).

ces­sion (ces­sion) —“An act by which a man trans­fers to ano­ther a right which belon­ged to him. […] It is said almost exclu­si­vely of obli­ga­tions, annui­ties, or mova­ble debts, which consist in the trans­fer of a docu­ment. With res­pect to fur­ni­shings, func­tions, or inhe­ri­tan­ces and buil­dings, the trans­fer made of pro­perty is cal­led sale, exchange, or dona­tion. (Trévoux).]

cham­pion (cham­pion) — “Brave and gene­rous war­rior who upholds a quar­rel or a party by paths of honor against his [or her] atta­ckers” (Furetière).

comi­tia (comi­ces) — “Assembly of the Roman peo­ple in the Field of Mars either to elect magis­tra­tes or to deal with the most impor­tant mat­ters in the repu­blic” (Trévoux).

com­po­si­tion (com­po­si­tion) — A price or for­feit by which two par­ties agree on ces­sion of a pro­perty or set­tle­ment of a chal­lenge.

cons­ti­tu­tion (cons­ti­tu­tion) — A term for the struc­ture of a state, or more par­ti­cu­larly (Trévoux) for the laws of the empe­rors and the empire.

consul (Latin) — Chiefs of the Roman senate who com­man­ded the armies and were the sove­reign jud­ges of dis­pu­tes bet­ween Roman citi­zens. (Dictionnaire de Trévoux)

cus­toms (coû­tu­mes) — “[T]he indi­vi­dual or muni­ci­pal law esta­bli­shed by prac­tice in cer­tain pro­vin­ces, which has force of law once it has been set down in wri­ting” (Furetière).

decem­vir (Latin) — “Roman magis­trate crea­ted to make the peo­ple’s laws, and so cal­led because this power was attri­bu­ted to ten per­sons toge­ther” (Furetière).

default of jus­tice (défaute de droit) — “Delay which the lord or the judge ins­ti­tu­ted by him brings, after expi­ra­tion of the legal delays, to dis­pense jus­tice to the vas­sal who has appea­led to his court. The accu­sed then argues that his claims be rejec­ted and appeals to the court of the domi­nant suze­rain.” (La Curne de Sainte-Pelaye.)

domain (domaine) — Inheritance, land, pro­perty, dwel­ling (Trévoux).

dynasty (race) — The three ancient linea­ges or “races” of French kings :

First or Merovingian dynasty, 481–752, begin­ning with Clovis ;

Second or Carolingian dynasty, 751–987, begin­ning with Pepin the Short ;

Third or Capetian dynasty, 987–1328, begin­ning with Hugh Capet.

ephor (éphore) — “A magis­trate who was esta­bli­shed in Sparta to curb the autho­rity of kings, as the Romans had esta­bli­shed tri­bu­nes in Rome to curb that of the consuls. The Ephors some­ti­mes drove out kings or had them killed.” (Furetière.)

échevin — An offi­cer who is elec­ted by the inha­bi­tants of a city to manage their com­mon busi­ness, the upkeep and deco­ra­tion of the city. (Trévoux)

fas­ces (fais­ceaux) — “Hatchets bound to some shafts or rods, which were signs of magis­tracy” (Trévoux).

fidele (Latin fide­lis) — See antrus­tion.

gage (of bat­tle) (gage de bataille) — “[A] token which the accu­ser or assai­lant threw on the ground, and which the other picked up to accept the chal­lenge, such as a glove, or a cap, etc.” (Trévoux).

indem­nify (indem­ni­ser) — “To pro­mise someone to gua­ran­tee him against any los­ses he might suf­fer by plea­sing, or recom­pense him from those he has indeed expe­rien­ced” (Furetière).

indus­try (indus­trie) — Skill and hard work, fre­quently with conno­ta­tions of inge­nuity and cle­ver­ness, even devious­ness.

juris­consult (juris­consulte) — A legal scho­lar, know­led­gea­ble in juris­pru­dence, who is consul­ted on the inter­pre­ta­tion of laws or cus­toms or the dif­fi­culties of a trial (Trévoux).

law of nations (droit des gens ; Latin : jus gen­tium) — “Laws and conven­tions esta­bli­shed by gene­ral consent for the secu­rity of com­merce bet­ween dif­fe­rent nations” (Trévoux).

leude — A great lord or highly-pla­ced vas­sal of the king ; see also antrus­tion. (See Book XXX, chap­ter 16.)

machine (machine) — The human body, as oppo­sed to the soul. To Descartes, whose influence pro­mul­ga­ted this concept, ani­mals were pure machi­nes (or auto­mata) ; humans, though also phy­si­cal machi­nes, were also endo­wed with a soul.

magis­trate (magis­trat) — Generic term for anyone in a posi­tion of dele­ga­ted public autho­rity (prin­ci­pally admi­nis­tra­tive or judi­cial) under any types of govern­ment.

manu­fac­tory (manu­fac­ture) — “A place where nume­rous wor­kers are gathe­red to work on a sin­gle kind of pro­duct” (Trévoux).

mayor of the palace (maire du palais) — “He was at first the mas­ter of the king’s hou­se­hold, who held com­mand over all the domes­tic offi­cers” (Trévoux).

maxim (maxime) — “A gene­ral pro­po­si­tion which ser­ves as prin­ci­ple, fon­da­tion, or rule in some arts or scien­ces” (Académie, 1762). In The Spirit of Law, the term is fre­quently more or less a syno­nym for “prin­ci­ple”.

mort­main (main­morte) — Property that does not change hands, par­ti­cu­larly pro­perty of a per­pe­tual body, such as a reli­gious cor­po­ra­tion, which in the eyes of the law never dies, although its mem­bers do (though they can­not will their pro­perty).

per­so­nal law (loi per­son­nelle) — A law or set of laws belon­ging or applying only to a limi­ted group of per­sons. The Spirit of Law (XXVIII, 10) refers, for exam­ple, to “the per­so­nal laws of each nation”, as oppo­sed to the Roman or other supra­na­tio­nal legal sys­tem.

pla­ci­tes — “Plaids or assi­zes” (note of Montesquieu, Spirit of law, XXX, 18).

plaids — See assi­ses.

præ­tor (pré­teur) — “A famous magis­trate in Rome. At first, all magis­tra­tes were cal­led præ­tors. Subsequently they cal­led præ­tors all the army chiefs, and even empe­rors. Since then they had præ­tors to dis­pense jus­tice to the citi­zens, and other præ­tors to dis­pense it to forei­gners.” (Furetière.)

pre­ca­rious (pré­caire) — Tentative or pro­vi­sio­nal : adjec­tive applied to pro­perty that is loa­ned, with per­haps a pre­sump­tion but no gua­ran­tee of even­tual owner­ship.

pre­cep­tion (pré­cep­tion) — “Orders which the king sent to jud­ges to do or allow cer­tain things that were against the law” (Note of Montesquieu, Spirit of Law, XXXI, 2).

prince (prince) — “When the word prince is used abso­lul­tely, it usually means the sove­reign who com­mands in the place under dis­cus­sion” (Académie, 1694).

quæs­tor (ques­teur) — “Officer of ancient Rome who over­saw the public trea­sury” (Trévoux).

redemp­tion, lineage right of (retrait ligna­gier) — “[W]hen someone in the lineage redeems from the hands of a third-party buyer […] a for­mer pro­perty of the family sold by a rela­tive of his” (Trévoux).

res­cript (res­cript) — “The Roman empe­rors, like our prin­ces, mani­fes­ted their wills through decrees and edicts ; but as our prin­ces do not, they allo­wed jud­ges or indi­vi­duals, in their dis­pu­tes, to ques­tion them by let­ter, and their replies were cal­led res­cripts.” (Spirit of Law, XXIX, 17).

reta­lia­tion, law of (loi du talion) — Punishment tan­ta­mount to equi­va­lent revenge : the prin­ci­ple of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, also known by its Latin name of lex talio­nis.

revo­lu­tion (révo­lu­tion) — Besides its appli­ca­tion to the rota­tion of pla­nets, “Revolution is also said of extra­or­di­nary chan­ges that occur in the world : down­falls, mis­for­tu­nes, decli­nes” (Trévoux).

sei­gnio­rie (sei­gneu­rie) — Landed hol­dings of a lord, inclu­ding fiefs and other land sub­ject to duties.

sena­tus consul­tum (Latin ; pl. : sena­tus consulta) — A decree issued by the Roman senate.

sub­sti­tu­tion (sub­sti­tu­tion) — “Act of a tes­ta­tor by which he sub­sti­tu­tes an heir for ano­ther who has only the usu­fruct of the pro­perty left to him. The ope­ning of a sub­sti­tu­tion takes place only after the death of the assi­gned heir. Substitutions are com­mon in Roman law.” (Furetière.)

suc­ceed (suc­cé­der) — To inhe­rit by law, either a legacy or a title or rank.

System (Système) — A term used for a mana­ge­ment pro­gram for the royal trea­sury (1715–1720), pro­po­sed and ulti­ma­tely run by John Law (1671–1729), a Scottish eco­no­mist. Two of its fea­tu­res were the crea­tion of a natio­nal bank and the intro­duc­tion of paper money.

tri­bune (tri­bun) — A Roman magis­trate whose role was to be defen­der of the peo­ple.

tri­bute (tri­but) — “Duty which one state is obli­ga­ted to pay to ano­ther by vir­tue of some treaty it has made with it to buy peace. The Romans made all the peo­ples they sub­ju­ga­ted pay tri­bu­tes. […] Tribute is also a per­so­nal contri­bu­tion which prin­ces raise on their sub­jects by capi­ta­tion to sup­port the expen­ses of the state. In Latin it is cal­led tri­bu­tum  ; and in that it dif­fers from a tax [impôt] rai­sed on mer­chan­dise, which is cal­led vec­ti­gal, eo quod vehe­ban­tur. The taille is a tri­bute which is natu­rally owed to the king.” (Furetière.)

usu­fruct (usu­fruit) — “The enjoy­ment of a pro­perty or revenu which one does not own. One can donate the owner­ship of one’s pro­perty while reser­ving the usu­fruct to one­self.” (Furetière.)

vil­lei­nage (ser­vi­tude de la glèbe) — Villeins were tech­ni­cally free men, but sur­vi­ved through sha­re­crop­ping on terms that were varia­ble but often one­rous.