Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/439

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which were considerable in size, not only from the royal judges, but also from the seigniorial courts within the limits of their authority. They held periodical assizes, and were bound to appoint lieutenants under them. The baillis and senechaux had by this time lost their financial attributes, but they still duplicated military and judicial functions. When the ban et arriere-ban was called out, these officers assumed the command, and it was not till a later time that the office was divided so as to suit the two somewhat incompatible duties. Frequent edicts were passed to secure the residence of these important functionaries, but we not infrequently find the office held by a courtier, or by a soldier on campaign.

Among the great legislative acts of Charles VII the ordinance of Montils-lez-Tours ranks high, and settles the general rules of judicial procedure for the kingdom. The reign of Louis XII saw considerable reforms in the detail of judicial machinery (1499 and 1510), but the outline of the judicial constitution was not seriously changed. The codification of local customs projected by Louis XI was begun under Charles VIII, and carried on vigorously under Louis XII, but not completed at his death. More than a century elapsed before this great task was finally achieved. This reform affected the northern part of France which was governed by droit coutumier, as opposed to those provinces (Dauphine, Provence, Languedoc, Guyenne and Lyonnais), which were dominated by droit tcrit, a modified form of Roman law.

There were many officers of more dignity than real authority, whose posts were a heritage from the more primitive organisation of feudal times. The foremost of these was the Constable of France, whose sword of office was coveted by the greatest nobles of the realm. Great nobles were also given the rank and style of governors of provinces with viceregal powers; but the functions of such governors were not an essential part of the scheme of rule. More humble, but perhaps not less important, were the secretaries and notaries of bourgeois rank attached to the King's chancellery. Many of these, Bourre, for instance, and Balue, rose to great authority, wealth, and influence. The tendency to give real power and confidence rather to bourgeois, clerks, and poor gentlemen than to the highest nobility is marked both in Charles VII and Louis XL Of poor gentlemen so elevated Commines and Ymbert de Batarnay are conspicuous examples.

The multiplication of offices, especially of financial offices, is a cause of complaint at least from the time of Louis XI onwards. That King, regarding himself, in virtue of his consciousness of supreme political wisdom, as emancipated from all rules that experience teaches to small men, would, when anxious to reward a useful servant, create without scruple an office for his sake, as readily as he would alienate for him a portion of domain, or fix a charge upon a grenier of salt. The complaints of the Estates of 1484 suggest that the venality of offices, even