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Dawson Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 192 pages of information about Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 1.

[102] Histoire des Archeveques de Rouen, p. 130.

[103] La Normandie Chretienne, p. 487.

[104] Histoire de Rouen, IV. p. 134.

LETTER XII.

PALAIS DE JUSTICE—­STATES, EXCHEQUER, AND PARLIAMENT OF NORMANDY—­GUILD OF THE CONARDS—­JOAN OF ARC—­FOUNTAIN AND BAS-RELIEF IN THE PLACE DE LA PUCELLE—­TOUR DE LA GROSSE HORLOGE—­PUBLIC FOUNTAINS—­RIVERS AUBETTE AND ROBEC—­HOSPITALS—­MINT.

(Rouen, June, 1818.)

Amongst the secular buildings of Rouen, the Palais de Justice holds the chief place, whether we consider the magnificence of the building, or the importance of the assemblies which once were convened within its precinct.

The three estates of the Duchy of Normandy, the parliament, composed of the deputies of the church, the nobility, and the good towns, usually held their meetings in the Palace of Justice.  Until the liberties of France were wholly extirpated by Richelieu, this body opposed a formidable resistance to the crown; and the Charte Normande was considered as great a safeguard to the liberties of the subject, as Magna Charta used to be on your side of the channel.  Here, also, the Court of Exchequer held its session.  According to a fond tradition, this, the supreme tribunal of Normandy, was instituted by Rollo, the good Duke, whose very name seemed to be considered as a charm averting violence and outrage.  This court, like our Aula Regia, long continued ambulatory, and attendant upon the person of the sovereign; and its sessions were held occasionally, and at his pleasure.  The progress of society, however, required that the supreme tribunal should become stationary and permanent, that the suitors might know when and where they might prefer their claims.  Philip the Fair, therefore, about the year 1300, began by enacting that the pleas should be held only at Rouen.  Louis the XIIth remodelled the court, and gave it permanence; yielding in these measures to the prayer of the States of Normandy, and to the advice of his minister, the Cardinal d’Amboise.  It was then composed of four presidents, and twenty-eight counsellors; thirteen being clerks; and the remainder laymen.  The name of exchequer was perhaps unpleasing to the crown, as it reminded the Normans of the ancient independence of their duchy; and, in 1515, Francis Ist ordered that the court should thenceforward be known as the Parliament of Normandy; thus assimilating it in its appellation to the other supreme tribunals of the kingdom.  There is an old poem extant, written in very lawyer-like rhyme, which invests all the cardinal virtues, and a great many supernumerary ones besides, with the offices of this most honorable court, in which purity is the usher, truth has a silk gown, and virginity enters the proceedings on the record.

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