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Saving France in the 1580s

Writings of Etienne Pasquier

James H. Dahlinger

Etienne Pasquier (1529–1615) was a renowned magistrate of the Parliament of Paris, a poet, an advisor to the last Valois kings as well as to Henri IV, and a founder of modern French historiography. This book examines Pasquier’s use of various genres: the dialogue, the published correspondence, and ecclesiastic history as well as his self-fashioning and his recognition by posterity for his efforts to protect the French state against threats both real and invented during the French Civil Wars of Religion. Pasquier strategically casts the Jesuits as the enemy to aid his self-construction as guardian of France and her political survival.
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6. Conclusions


Etienne Pasquier was in every sense an exponent of the Parliament of Paris. He and his colleagues shared a desire to provide a modern history of France, its customs and laws, to serve as a permanent guide and a moral compass for the continuity of France as an autonomous state in the future, especially in troubled times such as their own. To this end the robins had also drawn up the first written account of the Coutume de Paris. Pasquier and all the parliamentarians we have mentioned, including Christophe and Jacques de Thou and others had collected and edited early manuscripts, as well as charts, and other documents to produce the materials for a responsible history of France approaching our modern criteria for historiography, though history was still subordinated by the writers to their own exigencies. Pasquier reflects this activity of doing instructive, exemplary history in his Recherches de la France, which for the most part remains a still reliable account of the development of French national institutions. He publishes his Correspondence according to these same criteria and motivations, and in his letters, he encourages the reader to assemble the elements of his own character as model public servant. In another example of the parliamentarian’s industry, Jacques de Thou also produced his multivolume Historia sui Temporis, and Henri de Mesme wrote his memoirs. All of this gathering of historical artifacts went to illustrate ethical guidelines for political, religious and social conduct. ← 103 | 104 →

Pasquier’s wish to instruct future...

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