Gui-Jean-Baptiste Target

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Guy-Jean-Baptiste Target GJB Target.jpg
Guy-Jean-Baptiste Target

Gui-Jean-Baptiste Target (17 December 1733 – 9 September 1806) was a French lawyer and politician.



Born in Paris, Target was the son of a lawyer, and was himself a lawyer to the Parlement of Paris. He acquired a great reputation as a lawyer, less by practice in the courts than in a consultative capacity, and served the ancien régime as member of a committee to revise the civil and criminal laws of the kingdom. He strenuously opposed the " parlement Maupeou", devised by Chancellor Maupeou to replace the old judiciary bodies in 1771, refusing to plead before it, an act that earned him the sobriquet of the "Virgin of the palace".

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris is one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Parlement Ancien Régime justice court

A parlement, in the Ancien Régime of France, was a provincial appellate court. In 1789, France had 13 parlements, the most important of which was the Parlement of Paris. While the English word parliament derives from this French term, parlements were not legislative bodies. They consisted of a dozen or more appellate judges, or about 1,100 judges nationwide. They were the court of final appeal of the judicial system, and typically wielded much power over a wide range of subject matter, particularly taxation. Laws and edicts issued by the Crown were not official in their respective jurisdictions until the parlements gave their assent by publishing them. The members were aristocrats called nobles of the gown who had bought or inherited their offices, and were independent of the King.

René Nicolas Charles Augustin de Maupeou French politician

René Nicolas Charles Augustin de Maupeou was a French lawyer, politician, and chancellor of France, whose attempts at reform signalled the failure of enlightened despotism in France. He is best known for his effort to destroy the system of parlements, which were powerful regional courts, in 1770–74. When King Louis XV died in 1774, the parlements were restored and Maupeou lost power.

He was counsel for Louis René Edouard, cardinal de Rohan in the "affair of the diamond necklace".

In 1785, he was elected to the Académie française. [1]

Académie française Pre-eminent council for the French language

The Académie française is the pre-eminent French council for matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution, it was restored as a division of the Institut de France in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte. It is the oldest of the five académies of the institute.

He contributed to the development of the Edict of Tolerance signed at Versailles by Louis XVI in 1787.

Palace of Versailles French palace on the outskirts of Paris

The Palace of Versailles was the principal royal residence of France from 1682, under Louis XIV, until the start of the French Revolution in 1789, under Louis XVI. It is located in the department of Yvelines, in the region of Île-de-France, about 20 kilometres southwest of the centre of Paris.

French Revolution

In 1789, he was returned as one of the deputies of the Third Estate in Paris to the Estates-General, and he was instrumental in writing up the cahiers de doléances of Paris. He went on to support revolutionary measures such as the union of the orders, the suspensive veto, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, the last of which he was one of the principal authors.. He was one of many deputies named to the Constitutional Committee in September 1789, to replace those conservative members who resigned. He presided over the National Constituent Assembly 18 January - 2 February 1790.

Estates General (France) unelected tricameral parliament in the Kingdom of France from 1302 to 1789

In France under the Old Regime, the Estates General or States-General was a legislative and consultative assembly of the different classes of French subjects. It had a separate assembly for each of the three estates, which were called and dismissed by the king. It had no true power in its own right—unlike the English parliament it was not required to approve royal taxation or legislation—instead it functioned as an advisory body to the king, primarily by presenting petitions from the various estates and consulting on fiscal policy. The Estates General met intermittently until 1614 and only once afterwards, in 1789, but was not definitively dissolved until after the French Revolution.

The Cahiers de doléances were the lists of grievances drawn up by each of the three Estates in France, between March and April 1789, the year in which the French Revolution began. Their compilation was ordered by King Louis XVI, who had convened the Estates-General of 1789 to manage the revolutionary situation, to give each of the Estates – the First Estate, the Second Estate and the Third Estate, which consisted of everyone else, including the urban working class, the rural peasantry, and middle class and professional people, who were the only ones in the group likely to have their voices heard – the chance to express their hopes and grievances directly to the King. They were explicitly discussed at a special meeting of the Estates-General held on May 5, 1789. Many of these lists have survived and provide considerable information about the state of the country on the eve of the revolution. The documents recorded criticisms of government waste, indirect taxes, church taxes and corruption, and the hunting rights of the aristocracy.

Civil Constitution of the Clergy

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was a law passed on 12 July 1790 during the French Revolution, that caused the immediate subordination of the Catholic Church in France to the French government.

His excessive obesity, which made him the butt of the Royalist jokes, prevented his practising at the bar for some years before 1789. When Louis XVI invited him to undertake his defence, he excused himself on this ground. In 1792, he published some constitutional observations in extenuation of the king's actions, which, in the circumstances of the time, would have taken some courage. [1]

Louis XVI of France King of France and Navarre

Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste, was the last King of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as Citizen Louis Capet during the four months before he was guillotined. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, son and heir apparent of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin of France. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he assumed the title "King of France and Navarre", which he used until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of "King of the French" until the monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792.

Constitution Set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed

A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation or other type of entity, and commonly determine how that entity is to be governed.

From Thermidor to Empire

Target took no part in public affairs during the Reign of Terror. Under the Directory he was made a member of the Institut de France in 1796 and of the Court of Cassation in 1798. He lived to collaborate in the earlier stages of the new criminal code. [1]


Among his writings may be mentioned a paper on the grain trade (1776) and a Mémoire sur l'état des Protestants en France (1787), in which he pleaded for the restoration of civil rights to Protestants. [1]

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Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Target, Gui Jean Baptiste"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. The Britannica gives the following references: