Vers l’encyclopédisme: l’édition des répertoires juridiques à fin de l’Ancien Régime français
Toward the Encyclopedism: Registers of Legal Cases Derived from the Declining Era of the French Ancien Régime
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The men of the Enlightenment embarked upon a big project of publishing legal work of encyclopedic and popularizing nature. It was in one of such works the Repertoire, that Joseph-Nicolas Guyot explained twofold reason of the publication. His book was planned to be above all a kind of compendium of judicial decisions that was designed to arouse interest of the judges of all courts and practitioners, those who wished to learn of their duties and rights as well as those who wanted to have their share in the reforming of the judiciary that was being prepared by the doctrine. According to Guyot, his work intended also to educate the parties involved in the court proceedings. In the foreword Guyot wrote: The dispute comes to being as a result of ignorance of law and it frequently causes the ruin of the family that institutes an unfair trial. The articles printed in some dictionaries and registers of cases were characterized by new methods of obtaining information. Thanks to the commentaries found there in the old collections of judgments, often limited to simple publication of judicial decisions, drifted to the foreground. It was in the spirit of Enlightenment that legal definitions were equipped with a wide description which compiled variety of information. And since it was suitable to drop ignorance and legal diversity that permeated the Kingdom, the publications of the time compiled definitions, facts and quotations extracted from the works of the most eminent advocates. Such method was also close to that followed by Joseph-Nicolas Guyot. In the terminology that he exploits there may be perceived the influence of great parliamentarians of the century, particularly that of Montesquieu. There was an attempt made to provide each entry with clear and precise explanations, those that corresponded with the spirit of royal decrees and the sources derived from the most pure doctrine. In the registers of the decline of Ancien Regime there could be found the progressive image of history, saturated with the novelties and the idea of progress. But this was not tantamount to the dropping of the experience of the past. Thanks to the encyclopedic publications the historicity of law was coupled with the practical objective of these works. The progress could mean only the improvement of law.
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