Parlement of Brittany

Last updated
Facade of the palace of Parliament of Brittany Rennes - Parlement de Bretagne.jpg
Façade of the palace of Parliament of Brittany

The Parlement of Brittany (French : Parlement de Bretagne, Breton : Breujoù Breizh) was a court of justice under the Ancien Régime in France, with its seat at Rennes. The last building to house the Parlement still stands and now houses the Rennes Court of Appeal, the natural successor of the Parlement.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Breton language Celtic language

Breton is a member of the Brittonic Southwestern Brittonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken in Brittany.

Ancien Régime monarchic, aristocratic, social and political system established in the Kingdom of France from approximately the 15th century until the later 18th century

The Ancien Régime was the political and social system of the Kingdom of France from the Late Middle Ages until 1789, when hereditary monarchy and the feudal system of French nobility were abolished by the French Revolution. The Ancien Régime was ruled by the late Valois and Bourbon dynasties. The term is occasionally used to refer to the similar feudal systems of the time elsewhere in Europe. The administrative and social structures of the Ancien Régime were the result of years of state-building, legislative acts, internal conflicts, and civil wars, but they remained and the Valois Dynasty's attempts at re-establishing control over the scattered political centres of the country were hindered by the Huguenot Wars. Much of the reigns of Henry IV and Louis XIII and the early years of Louis XIV were focused on administrative centralization. Despite, however, the notion of "absolute monarchy" and the efforts by the kings to create a centralized state, the Kingdom of France retained its irregularities: authority regularly overlapped and nobles struggled to retain autonomy.


Parlements under the Ancien Régime

As with all the Parlements before they were abolished in 1789, that of Brittany was a sovereign court of justice, principally listening to appeals of sentences issued by lower jurisdictions.

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.

The Parlement also possessed limited legislative powers and asserted some autonomy with respect to the royal prerogative. The nobles of Brittany were keen to defend the rights of the province, known as the "Breton liberties", maintained under the treaty of union with France. They were determined to exercise these powers, and to play a big part in the life of the Parlement and consequently in the life of the whole province. This resistance to royal powers, involving the defending of its institutions and the privileges of the nobility, was widespread. Composed of similar members with many interests in common, the Estates of Brittany were invariably united with the Parlement of Brittany in defence of their rights.

Brittany Historical province in France

Brittany is a cultural region in the northwest of France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period of Roman occupation. It became an independent kingdom and then a duchy before being united with the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province governed as if it were a separate nation under the crown.

A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman provincia, which was the major territorial and administrative unit of the Roman Empire's territorial possessions outside Italy. The term province has since been adopted by many countries. In some countries with no actual provinces, "the provinces" is a metaphorical term meaning "outside the capital city".

Nobility privileged social class

Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately under royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy. Nobility possesses more acknowledged privileges and higher social status than most other classes in society. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be largely honorary, and vary by country and era. As referred to in the Medieval chivalric motto "noblesse oblige", nobles can also carry a lifelong duty to uphold various social responsibilities, such as honorable behavior, customary service, or leadership positions. Membership in the nobility, including rights and responsibilities, is typically hereditary.


Vannes Prefecture and commune in Brittany, France

Vannes is a commune in the Morbihan department in Brittany in north-western France. It was founded over 2,000 years ago.

Nantes Prefecture and commune in Pays de la Loire, France

Nantes is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, 50 km (31 mi) from the Atlantic coast. The city is the sixth-largest in France, with a population of 303,382 in Nantes and a metropolitan area of nearly 950,000 inhabitants. With Saint-Nazaire, a seaport on the Loire estuary, Nantes forms the main north-western French metropolis.

Cardinal Richelieu French clergyman, noble and statesman

Cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis, 1st Duke of Richelieu and Fronsac, commonly referred to as Cardinal Richelieu, was a French clergyman, nobleman, and statesman. He was consecrated as a bishop in 1607 and was appointed Foreign Secretary in 1616. Richelieu soon rose in both the Catholic Church and the French government, becoming a cardinal in 1622, and King Louis XIII's chief minister in 1624. He remained in office until his death in 1642; he was succeeded by Cardinal Mazarin, whose career he had fostered.

Judicial Competence

The foremost responsibilities of the Parlement of Brittany were the processing of appeals against judgements in civil matters rather than criminal matters. It had to instruct and to judge across wide-ranging areas of litigation, and question all that which may have escaped the attention, for various reasons, of the lower provincial jurisdictions.

Main responsibilities


Civil Process

According to a sample of the Parlement's judgments compiled by Séverine Debordes-Lissillour, its judgments (excluding those in a few trials that lasted more than ten years) had an average delay between the initial sentence and the decision of two or three years at the beginning of the 18th century, but this increased steadily until it was more than five years at the end of the century. [1] Within that same sample of judgments, the Parlement confirmed the judgment in 60 per cent of cases, but was divided in 30 per cent of cases, some being the object of an "evocation before the court," while the remaining 10 per cent of judgements were left unfinished as “having to be done right”). More than half of the procedures concerned questions of succession, of property and of obligations. [2]

Administrative Competence

The Parlement of Brittany possessed many administrative prerogatives, such as guardianship of parishes and control of policing. The contentions and complaints that it processed allowed it to be fairly well informed about general difficulties justifying the sentences passed or overriding the strict judicial framework. All the same, royal orders and edicts could require implementation more or less immediately.

Parishes had to ask for the Parlement’s agreement when they wanted to raise money for their own needs (repairs, for example). Forty parishes asked for such decisions during a single term in the year 1693. The parish rector had to publicise any judgments.

One of the innovations of the laws of August 16 and August 24, 1790, following the abolition of the Parlements, was the separation of the judicial and the administrative courts.

The Parlement Building

Plans were drawn by the city architect of Rennes, German Gaultier and reviewed by Salomon de Brosse (designer of the facades). The Parlement of Brittany decided to site the palace in the heart of the city, where it had sat ever since 1655.

Rennes Prefecture and commune in Brittany, France

Rennes is a city in the east of Brittany in northwestern France at the confluence of the Ille and the Vilaine. Rennes is the capital of the region of Brittany, as well as the Ille-et-Vilaine department.

Salomon de Brosse French architect

Salomon de Brosse was a French architect, a major influence on François Mansart and one of the most influential French architects of the 17th century. Salomon was born in Verneuil-en-Halatte, Oise, into a prominent Huguenot family, the grandson through his mother of the designer Jacques I Androuet du Cerceau and the son of the architect Jean de Brosse. He was established in practice in Paris in 1598 and was promoted to court architect in 1608.

The building was restored following severe fire damage on February 5, 1994, an event linked to violent demonstrations by local fishermen. The building was adapted to the requirements of the 21st century, and the Court of Appeal of Rennes was able to resume its activities there within five years.

See also

Notes and references

  1. Séverine Debordes-Lissillour, The Royal Sénéchaussées of Brittany, University Press of Rennes, 2006.
  2. Séverine Debordes-Lissillour, The Royal Sénéchaussées of Brittany, University Press of Rennes, 2006.


In French

Coordinates: 48°06′46″N1°40′40″W / 48.1128°N 1.6778°W / 48.1128; -1.6778

Related Research Articles

Brittany (administrative region) Administrative region of France

Brittany is one of the 18 regions of France. It is named after the historic and geographic region of Brittany, of which it constitutes 80%. The capital is Rennes. Bathed by the English Channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south, it is located in the West of France, bordering the Normandy and Pays de la Loire regions. Bro Gozh ma Zadoù is the anthem of Brittany. It is sung to the same tune as that of the national anthem of Wales, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, and has similar words. As a region of France, Brittany has a Regional Council, which was most recently elected in 2015.

Duchy of Brittany Medieval duchy in northwestern France

The Duchy of Brittany was a medieval feudal state that existed between approximately 939 and 1547. Its territory covered the northwestern peninsula of Europe, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the English Channel to the north. It was less definitively bordered by the Loire River to the south, and Normandy and other French provinces to the east. The Duchy was established after the expulsion of Viking armies from the region around 939. The Duchy, in the 10th and 11th centuries, was politically unstable, with the dukes holding only limited power outside their own personal lands. The Duchy had mixed relationships with the neighbouring Duchy of Normandy, sometimes allying itself with Normandy, and at other times, such as the Breton-Norman War, entering into open conflict.

Alan II, Duke of Brittany Count of Vannes, Poher, Nantes and Brittany

Alan II, nicknamed Wrybeard or Twistedbeard, Alan Varvek in Breton, was Count of Vannes, Poher, and Nantes, and Duke of Brittany from 938 to his death. He was the grandson of King Alan the Great by Alan's daughter and her husband Mathuedoï I, Count of Poher. He expelled the Vikings from Brittany after an occupation that lasted from 907 to about 939.

John of Montfort Duke of Brittany

John of Montfort, sometimes known as John IV, Duke of Brittany, and 6th Earl of Richmond from 1341 to his death. He was the son of Arthur II, Duke of Brittany and his second wife, Yolande de Dreux. He contested the inheritance of the Duchy of Brittany by his niece, Joan of Penthièvre, which led to the War of the Breton Succession, which in turn evolved into being part of the Hundred Years' War between England and France. John's patron in his quest was King Edward III of England. He died in 1345, 19 years before the end of the war, and the victory of his son John IV over Joan of Penthièvre and her husband, Charles of Blois.

Bernard Le Nail was a French writer and Breton militant. After studying commerce in Paris, he headed the promotional office of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Nantes. In 1979 he became Secretary General of the Comité d'Etude et de Liaison des Intérêts Bretons (CELIB) at Lanester. Between 1983 and 2000 he was director of the Cultural Institute of Brittany and had an important role in the conception and publication of the collection Les Bretons au-delà des mers : Explorateurs et grands voyageurs. He was also involved in the conception and publication of the following works: 500 Bretons à connaître, revising the Guide Bleu Bretagne, Guides Gallimard Bretagne, Les noms qui ont fait l’histoire de Bretagne, Dictionnaire des femmes en Bretagne, La Bretagne entre Armor et Argoat.

University of Rennes 2 university in Brittany

The University of Rennes 2 is a university in Upper Brittany, France, one of four in the Academy of Rennes. The main campus is situated in the northwest section of Rennes in the Villejean neighborhood not far from the other campus, located at La Harpe.

Bertrand dArgentré Breton jurist

Bertrand d'Argentré was a Breton jurist and historian.

Representations of Anne of Brittany

Anne of Brittany was the object of representations very early on. The royal propaganda of Charles VIII and, later on, of Louis XII idealized her as a symbol of the perfect queen, on the union between the kingdom and the duchy, and of the return to peace. Maximilian's Austria having been evicted from the marriage, had a different perspective on the events. Throughout the centuries, historians and popular imagery forged a very different Anne of Brittany, attributing her physical or psychological characteristics or actions that are not necessarily verifiable through historical data.

The Derby de la Bretagne is a football match. The match can potentially designate any match-up between two sporting football associations based in the historic province of Brittany; however, most of the time, it is employed by each club's supporters to mention a football match contested between major French clubs Stade Rennais and FC Nantes.

Courts of Jersey

The Courts of Jersey are responsible for the administration of justice in the Bailiwick of Jersey, one of the Channel Islands. They apply the law of the Island, which is a mixture of customary law and legislation passed by the legislature, the States Assembly.

Hoël I of Brittany was an illegitimate son of Alan II and Judith. He was Count of Nantes and Duke of Brittany from 960 to 981.

Clair of Nantes first bishop of Nantes, France

According to late traditions, Saint Clair was the first bishop of Nantes, France in the late 3rd century.

Court of Appeal (France) French court

In France, the cour d’appel of the ordre judiciaire (judiciary) is a juridiction de droit commun du second degré, a. It examines previously-judged litigation, for example from the correctional tribunal or a tribunal de grande instance. When one of the parties is not satisfied with the verdict, it can appeal. While communications from jurisdictions of first instance are termed "judgements", or judgments, a court of appeal renders an arrêt (verdict), which may either uphold or annul the initial judgment. A verdict of the court of appeal may be further appealed en cassation. If the appeal is admissible at the cour de cassation, that court does not re-judge the facts of the matter a third time, but may investigate and verify whether the rules of law were properly applied by the lower courts.

In France the jurisdictions of the ordre judiciaire, of the French court system are empowered to try either litigation between persons or criminal law cases. They may intervene:

Guerech of Brittany, was Count of Nantes and Duke of Brittany from 981 to 988.

Alan, Count of Nantes (988–90)

Alan was the only known son of Guerech, Duke of Brittany, and Aremberg. With his mother he founded the castle of Ancenis around 987, according to the Chronicle of Nantes. In 988, he succeeded his father as Count of Nantes and perhaps nominal Duke of Brittany, after his father was murdered by Count Conan I of Rennes. The following two years were marked by endless warfare between Rennes and Nantes. In 990, Alan died, either of an illness or else killed by Conan, who took Nantes and had himself proclaimed Duke of Brittany by the bishop of Nantes, Orscand de Vannes.

IMT Atlantique IMT Atlantique is a leading general engineering school and is internationally recognized for its research. It is part of the Institut Mines-Télécom and comes under the aegis of the Ministry of industry and digital technology.

IMT Atlantique Bretagne Pays de la Loire is a leading french engineering school which was created on January 1, 2017 through the merger of the École nationale supérieure des mines de Nantes and Telecom Bretagne. It is one of the 210 French engineering schools authorized to award engineering diplomas.

Germain Gaultier was an architect of the city of Rennes from 1609 to his death and the first architect of the palace of Parlement of Brittany. He is sometimes mistakenly called Gervais and his name given as Gautier or Gauthier.