Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/437

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advice might be useful, even necessary, but its wishes might be neglected. On the other hand, during the youth of Charles VIII the support of the Council was a valuable prop to Anne, who skilfully introduced into it men of her own confidence. The Princes of the Blood, with few exceptions, were irregular and fitful in their attendance. The professional men of affairs, legists and financiers, by their knowledge, industry, and regular presence, must have effectively controlled the business. And this was of the most varied and important character. Not only legislation, but all manner of executive matters came under its notice; police, foreign policy, ecclesiastical matters, finance, justice,—nothing was excluded from its purview. The members of the Council were numerous, their total amounting to fifty, sixty or more. After the death of Louis XI some attempt was made to limit the numbers to twelve or fifteen, and the name Conseil etroit was applied to this smaller body; but the endeavour, if serious, was unsuccessful; the numbers soon rose again, and were further swelled by the great men's habit of bringing with them their own private advisers.

The exercise of jurisdiction by this body often brought it into collision with the Parlement of Paris, whose decisions it sometimes quashed, and whose cases it evoked while still sub judice. Apparently under Louis XI first, and afterwards under his successors, a judicial committee of the King's Council was created to deal with contentious litigation. The specific name of Grand Conseil seems to attach to this tribunal, which was especially occupied with questions relating to the possession of benefices, and to the right of holding offices under the Crown. It is probable that the Parlement, always favourable to the Pragmatic, could not after its revocation be trusted in beneficiary actions to give judgments satisfactory to the Crown. Hence this extension and regularisation of the exceptional jurisdiction of the Council. The Estates of 1484 complained of the frequency of evocations, and interference with the ordinary course of justice, but in 1497 the Grand Conseil was consecrated by a new ordinance, making it in the main a Court of administrative justice. It then had in its turn to suffer the encroachments of the King's ordinary Council.

The Parlement of Paris was the supreme constitutional tribunal of law for the chief part of the kingdom. The jurisdiction of the King's Council sprang out of the plenitude of the royal power, and was hardly, except so far as the ordinance of 1497 extended, constitutional. For Languedoc the Parlement of Toulouse was created in 1443, for Dauphine that of Grenoble in 1453, that of Bordeaux for Guyenne in 1462, and that of Dijon for conquered Burgundy in 1477. Aix was the seat of a similar tribunal for Provence after 1501, and in 1515 the Exchequer of Normandy took the style of Parlement. Outside the limits of these jurisdictions the Parlement of Paris was the sovereign Court of appeal, and a Court of first instance for those persons and corporations which