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FROM REQUÊTE TO PETITION: PETITIONING THE MONARCH BETWEEN EMPIRES*

  • HANNAH WEISS MULLER (a1)

Abstract

This article uncovers a transimperial culture of petitioning that eased the transition for subjects who moved between the French and British empires. Although the petition was hailed as the birthright of Britons, and has consistently drawn attention from historians of Britain and its empire, this did not mean that petitioning was unknown elsewhere. Indeed, Quebec, which was transferred from France to Britain at the close of the Seven Years’ War (1756–63) and experienced lengthy periods of both French and British rule, provides an ideal site through which to document written traditions of expressing grievance. This article reveals not only that French subjects were familiar with addressing the monarch well before the British conquest, but also suggests an important continuity of form that transcended differences of language, shifting regimes, and imperial rivalries. The analysis of petitions from Quebec both before and after 1759 testifies to an identifiable commensurability in the lived experiences of inhabitants across the French and British empires, just as it underscores the petition's similar function in the overseas colonies more broadly. The petition's value to both subjects and sovereigns – its role in mediating relations between them across the globe – helps to explain its continued relevance in these two monarchical empires.

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Corresponding author

History Department, Brandeis University, Olin-Sang 215, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA 02453 mullerh@brandeis.edu

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My warmest thanks to Christian Blais, Nancy Christie, John-Paul Ghobrial, Mark Knights, Michel Morin, Marcus Muller, and David Zaret, as well as participants in the 2012 Symposium on Comparative Early Modern Legal History (Law and the French Atlantic) and the 2014 North American Conference on British Studies, for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this article. I am also grateful to the editors and anonymous reviewers of the Historical Journal for the time and attention they gave to this article.

Footnotes

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1 Copy of a Memorial of the Seigneurs of the District of Quebec to His Majesty, 1766, The National Archives (TNA), CO 42/26.

2 Memorial of His Majesty's Adopted Subjects in the Island of Quebec, attested 14 Feb. 1766, TNA, CO 42/26.

3 Petitioners from Quebec and Grenada used the terms ‘address’, ‘memorial’, and ‘petition’ almost interchangeably when entitling their submissions to the monarch. I favour the term ‘petition’ in this article, because the ‘right of petition’ was that asserted by contemporaries and because petitions almost always included both an address of loyalty and a request for remedy. As the work of both Mark Knights and James Bradley suggests, ‘address’ sometimes had a more specific meaning, referring specifically to addresses of loyalty presented to the monarch at the accession or during political crises which did not necessarily make specific demands or express grievances. See Knights, Mark, ‘Participation and representation before democracy: petitions and addresses in premodern Britain’, in Shapiro, Ian, ed., Political representation (Cambridge, 2009); and Bradley, James E., Popular politics and the American Revolution in England (Macon, GA, 1986).

4 Calloway, Colin, The scratch of a pen: 1763 and the transformation of North America (Oxford, 2006), p. xi.

5 Mathieu Fraser, ‘La pratique pétitionnaire à la chambre d'assemblée du Bas-Canada, 1792–1795’ (2008), p. 4, www.fondationbonenfant.qc.ca/stages/essais/2008Fraser.pdf.

6 Among the more recent, see Fyson, Donald, Magistrates, police, and people: everyday criminal justice in Quebec and Lower Canada, 1764–1838 (Buffalo, NY, 2006); Fyson, Donald, ‘The conquered and the conqueror: the mutual adaptation of the Canadiens and the British in Quebec, 1759–1775’, in Bruckner, Phillip and Reid, John, eds., Revisiting 1759: the conquest of Canada in historical perspective (Toronto, 2012), pp. 190217 ; and Giselle Giral, ‘Supplient très humblement…les pétitions collectives et le développement de la sphère publique au Québec’ (MA thesis, Université Laval, 2013).

7 Giral, ‘Supplient très humblement’.

8 Morin, Michel, ‘The discovery and assimilation of British constitutional principles in Quebec, 1764–1774’, Dalhousie Law Journal, 36 (2013), p. 49; Morin, Michel, ‘Les revendications des nouveaux sujets, francophones et catholiques, de la Province de Québec, 1764–1774’, in Baker, G. Blaine and Fyson, Donald, eds., Essays in the history of Canadian law (Buffalo, NY, 2013), ix, pp. 131–86. For the connections between printing and petitions, see Zaret, David, ‘Petitions and the “invention” of public opinion in the English Revolution’, American Journal of Sociology, 101 (1996), pp. 1497–555; and Zaret, David, Origins of democratic culture: printing, petitions, and the public sphere in early modern England (Princeton, NJ, 2000).

9 Although Quebec was not actually granted an assembly until 1791 and French civil law was upheld by the Quebec Act of 1774, many interpreted the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and subsequent instructions to its governors to mean that Quebec was to be granted a framework of governor, council, and assembly like other colonies in the British Atlantic. See, among others, Tousignant, Pierre, ‘The integration of the province of Quebec into the British empire, 1763–1791’, in Dictionary of Canadian biography (Toronto, 1979), iv, pp. xxxiixlix .

10 Like the English ‘address’, ‘memorial’, and ‘petition’, the French ‘mémoire’, ‘pétition’, ‘requête’, and ‘remontrance’ are often used almost interchangeably. Each can be translated slightly differently, however, and the translation points to a difference of tone that is often noticeable in the document itself. ‘Mémoire’ typically refers to a document that is more like a ‘memorandum’. ‘Pétition’ translates as ‘petition’. ‘Requête’ means a ‘request’ or a ‘petition’. ‘Remontrance’ is the strongest of these words and signals a ‘reproof’ or ‘reprimand’. In general, I prefer the term ‘requête’, but will use the terms ‘requête’, ‘mémoire’, and ‘pétition’ somewhat interchangeably in this article and will avoid the stronger term ‘remontrance’.

11 Zaret, Origins of democratic culture, p. 86.

12 For this argument, see Knights, Mark, ‘London's monster petition of 1680’, Historical Journal, 36 (1993), pp. 3967 .

13 See Bradley, Popular politics; petitioning parliament, though a long-established practice, was not confirmed by statute in 1689.

14 See, among others, Dodd, Gwilym, Justice and grace: private petitioning and the English parliament in the late middle ages (Oxford, 2007); Foster, Elizabeth Read, ‘Petitions and the petition of right’, Journal of British Studies, 14 (1974), pp. 2145 ; Hart, James S., Justice upon petition: the House of Lords and the reformation of justice, 1621–1675 (London, 1991); Johnson, Keith, ‘Claims of equity and justice: petitions and petitioners in Upper Canada, 1815–1840’, Social History, 28 (1995), pp. 219–40; and Nicholls, David, ‘Addressing God as ruler: prayer and petition’, British Journal of Sociology, 44 (1993), pp. 125–41.

15 See, among others, Bradley, Popular politics; Fraser, Peter, ‘Public petitioning and parliament before 1832’, History, 46 (1961), pp. 195211 ; Knights, ‘Participation and representation’; Zaret, Origins of democratic culture.

16 See, in particular, Knights, ‘Participation and representation’; and Zaret, Origins. See also Vallance, Edward, ‘Harrington, petitioning, and the construction of public opinion’, in Mahlberg, Gaby and Wiemann, Dirk, eds., Perspectives on English revolutionary republicanism (Burlington, VT, 2014), pp. 119–34.

17 See, most notably, the letter from Robert Melvill to the Board of Trade dated 1 Mar. 1766 in which he forwarded not one but three petitions submitted to him and attested on 14 Feb. 1766, TNA, CO 101/1.

18 For additional analysis of these common forms and styles, see Dodd, Justice and grace; Fraser, ‘La pratique pétitionnaire’; Giral, ‘Supplient très humblement’; Weiser, Brian, ‘Access and petitioning during the reign of Charles II’, in Cruickshanks, Eveline, ed., The Stuart courts (Stroud, 2000); Würgler, Andreas, ‘Voices from among the “silent masses”: humble petitions and social conflicts in early modern central Europe’, in van Voss, Lex Herma, ed., Petitions in social history (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 1134 .

19 See, among others, Devas, Raymond, Conception island: the troubled story of the Catholic church in Grenada (London, 1932), p. 38; Lawson, Philip, The imperial challenge: Quebec and Britain in the age of the American Revolution (Montreal, 1994).

20 The petitions from Quebec can be found in the TNA, CO 42 series, or the collection compiled by Shortt, Adam and Doughty, Arthur G., Documents relating to the constitutional history of Canada, 1759–1791 (Ottawa, 1907). The petitions from Grenada can be found in the TNA, CO 101 series.

21 These component parts of the petition are ones I have identified in my earlier article, Bonds of belonging: subjecthood and the British empire’, Journal of British Studies, 53 (2014), pp. 2958 .

22 For more on this, see Hannah Weiss Muller, Subjects and sovereign: bonds of belonging in the British empire (Oxford, forthcoming).

23 Koziol, Geoffrey, Begging pardon and favor: ritual and pardon in early medieval France (Ithaca, NY, 1992); David Zaret, ‘Petition-and-response in pre-modern Eurasia’ (forthcoming). See also Beales, Derek, ‘Joseph II, petitions, and the public sphere’, in Scott, Hamish and Simms, Brendan, eds., Cultures of power in Europe during the long eighteenth century (Cambridge, 2007), pp. 249–68; and the collected essays in van Voss, ed., Petitions in social history.

24 Koziol, Begging pardon and favor, p. 27.

25 Yann-Arzel Durelle-Marc, ‘Le droit de pétition pendant la Revolution Française, 1789–1793’ (DEA-Histoire, Université de Rennes II Haute Bretagne, 1995), pp. 54–5. More recently, see Dodd, Gwilym and Petit-Renaud, Sophie, ‘Grace and favour: the petition and its mechanisms’, in Fletcher, Christopher, Genet, Jean-Philippe, and Watts, John, eds., Government and political life in England and France, c. 1300–c. 1500 (Cambridge, 2015), pp. 240–78.

26 See the edicts of 1493 and 1553, as well as the ordonnance of 1560, in Roland Mousnier, Les institutions de la France sous la monarchie absolue, 1598–1789 (2 vols., Paris, 1974), ii.

27 See the edict of 1553 in Mousnier, Les institutions, p. 143. For the history of the syndic in France, see Lanctot, Gustave, ‘La participation du peuple dans le gouvernement de la Nouvelle-France’, Revue Trimestrielle Canadienne, 15 (1929), pp. 225–39; and Lanctot, Gustave, L'administration de la Nouvelle-France (Montreal, 1971).

28 See the 1610 ‘Déclaration sur la défense du port d'armes et contres les assemblées illicites’, as well as the arrêt of 21 June 1717 that prohibited ‘les rassemblements ayant pour objet de signer un acte ou une requête sans l'autorisation du roi’ in the Recueil general des anciennes lois françaises, depuis l'an 420 jusqu’à la Révolution de 1789 (Bibliothèque Nationale de France) http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k51686f.

29 See Durelle-Marc, Yann-Arzel, ‘Natures et origines du droit de pétition’, Revue administrative (2008), pp. 4760 ; Durelle-Marc, ‘Le droit de pétition’.

30 Agnes, Benoît, ‘La pétitionnaire universel: les normes de la pétition en France et au Royaume-Uni pendant la première moitié du XIXe siècle’, Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine, 4 (2011), pp. 4570 .

31 See Rebérioux, Madeleine, ‘Pétitionner’, Le mouvement social, 181 (1998), pp. 127–32. In ‘Nature et origines’, Durelle-Marc notes that the Constitution of 1791 also recognized this right.

32 See, among others, Zaret, Origins of democratic culture; Hart, Justice upon petition.

33 Higginson, Stephen, ‘A short history of the right to petition government for the redress of grievances’, Yale Law Journal, 96 (1986), pp. 142–66.

34 See Higginson, ‘A short history’, p. 145.

35 For the exception of 1661, see Nicholls, ‘Addressing God as ruler’, p. 130.

36 Dodd and Petit-Renaud, ‘Grace and favour’, p. 241. See also Matteoni, Olivier, ‘Plaise au roi: les requêtes des officiers en France à la fin du moyen âge’, in Millet, Hélène, ed., Suppliques et requêtes: le gouvernement par la grâce en occident (Rome, 2003).

37 See Jacques de Meulles, intendant, rend une ordonnance à la suite de la requête des habitants de la basse-ville de Québec conernant la cours d'eau qui descend de la haute à la basse-ville, 1684, Fonds Séminaire de Québec (FSQ) p. 29/129a, Documents Faribault no. 129a; Mémoire destiné au ministre Seignelay en faveur des habitants de la basse ville de Québec, 1685, Centre des Archives d'Outre-Mer COL C11A 7/fos. 240–242; Requête addressée au roi par les habitants du côté sud du fleuve Saint-Laurent, 1686, Archives Nationales d'Outre-Mer (ANOM) COL C11A 50/fos. 200–202v; Pétition des citoyens de la basse-ville de Québec au sujet du cour d'eau qui descend de la haute à la basse-ville, 1687, FSQ p. 29/129b, Documents Faribault no. 129b; Requête des habitants de la basse-ville de Québec à Jean Bochart Champigny, intendant, au sujet du cours d'eau qui descend de la haute à la basse-ville, 1687, FSQ p. 29/130, Documents Faribault no. 130; Résumé d'une requêtes des curés du Canada au roi, 1706, ANOM COL C11A 24/fos. 185v–187v. As a historian of Britain and the British empire, I remain incredibly grateful to Christian Blais, historian at the library of the Assemblée Nationale du Québec, for his generosity in sharing copies of petitions he found at the Fonds Séminaire de Québec.

38 See Sternberg, Giora, ‘Epistolary ceremonial: corresponding status at the time of Louis XIV’, Past and Present, 204 (2009), pp. 3388 .

39 The original French typically reads: ‘les sous-signez…supplient et remontrent très humblement’.

40 The original French here reads: ‘les sous-signes habitants de la basse ville de Québec’.

41 The original French here reads: ‘Conseillers en votre Conseil Souverain de Québec’.

42 Agnes, ‘La pétitionnaire universel’, p. 58.

43 The term most frequently used is ‘les supplians’.

44 In this case, the original French reads: ‘cest a vous Monseigneur de juger’.

45 The original French often reads: ‘qu'il vous plaisse ordonner que…’.

46 The term used here is ‘droits’.

47 A typical phrasing was to refer to the ‘avantage de ce pays’ that would result from granting the petitioner's request.

48 The original French reads: ‘et ils seront obligué de prier Dieu pour la continuation de vottre prosperité et santé’.

49 The original French reads: ‘ils seront dautans plus obligés de continuer leurs vôeux et leurs prières pour la santé et prosperité de vostre Majesté’.

50 Nicholls, ‘Addressing God as ruler’. See also the collection of essays edited by Hélène Millet, Suppliques et requêtes.

51 Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond D'Alembert, eds., Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, etc. (University of Chicago: ARTFL Encyclopédie Project (Spring 2011 Edition)), ed. Robert Morrissey, http://encyclopedie.uchicago.edu, x, pp. 328–9, xii, p. 466, xiv, pp. 98, 162–3. The original entry for requête reads: ‘la requête commence par l'adresse, c'est-à-dire par le nom du juge auquel elle est addressée, comme à nosseigneurs de parlement, après quoi il est dit, supplie humblement un tel; on expose ensuite le fait & les moyens & l'on finit par les conclusions qui commencent en ces termes, ce considéré, nosseigneurs, il vous plaise, ou bien, messieurs, selon le tribunal où l'on plaide, & les conclusions sont ordinairement terminées par ces mots, & vous ferez bien’.

52 This should not be taken to mean that this translation and adaptation was seamless or without difficulty. As one of the readers for this article reminded me, many of the Canadiens struggled to find the correct forms for addressing colonial governors after the conquest.

53 This is not merely a feature of older self-congratulatory British histories. See also Fraser, ‘La pratique pétitionnaire’, p. 7; Lagrave, Jean-Paul, La liberté d'expression en Nouvelle-France, 1608–1760 (Montréal, 1975), p. 122. For more on the connection between printed petitions and constitutional privileges, see Morin, ‘The discovery and assimilation’, p. 48.

54 See, among others, Karl Milobar, ‘The constitutional development of Quebec from the time of the French régime to the Canada Act of 1791: a British perspective’ (D.Phil. thesis, University of London, 1990), pp. 9–22; Moogk, Peter, La Nouvelle France: the making of French Canada – a cultural history (East Lansing, MI, 2000), pp. 54–9.

55 See, among others, Blais, Christian, ‘Revandiquer en Nouvelle-France’, in Québec: quatre siècles d'une capitale (Québec, 2008), pp. 6589 ; and Blais, Christian, ‘La représentation en Nouvelle-France’, Bulletin d'histoire politique, 18 (2009); Frégault, Guy, La civilisation de la Nouvelle-France, 1713–1744 (Québec, 1990); Lanctot, L'administration de la nouvelle France; Moogk, La Nouvelle France.

56 Blais, ‘Revandiquer’, p. 71.

57 An excerpt from this correspondence can be found in Blais, ‘Revandiquer’, p. 77. It reads: ‘il faudra meme…supprimer insensiblement le syndic qui presente des requêtes au nom de tous les habitants, etant bon que chacun parle pour soi, et que personne ne parle pour tous’. See also Gilles, David, ‘Archéologie de l'herméneutique du droit québécois: en quête des discours juridiques avant la Conquête’, Revue Juridique, 44 (2010), pp. 49120 .

58 Blais, ‘Revandiquer’, p. 79.

59 Ibid., p. 78. The French reads: ‘toute reunion, assemblée, ou conventicule quelconque’.

60 Ibid., p. 79. The French reads: ‘qui ne se peuvent faire que par assemblées publiques’.

61 Moogk, La Nouvelle France, pp. 70–2.

62 See Blais, ‘Revandiquer’, p. 88.

63 For a transcription of this ordonnance in the original French, see Blais, ‘La représentation’. The French reads: ‘Sa Majesté veut que tous ses sujets aient, en particulier, la faculté de représenter leurs raisons et leurs plaints.’

64 Blais, ‘Revandiquer’, p. 71. The original French reads: ‘Qu'il est de l'importance du service du roi et du bien public qu'il y ait des personnes de probité requise et de fidelité connue pour avoir soin des intêrets communs de la communauté des habitants de la ville de Québec.’

65 For these assemblies, see Lagrave, La liberté d'expression, p. 20.

66 On these points, see Lanctot, ‘La participation du people’; Lanctot, L'administration de la nouvelle France, pp. 157–8.

67 Moogk, La Nouvelle France, p. 69. The original French expression is: ‘ayant aucune égard à leur demande’.

68 See Blais's transcription of this 1677 ordonnance in Blais, ‘La représentation’. This particular translation is that of Moogk, La Nouvelle France, p. 72.

69 Moogk, La Nouvelle France, p. 271.

70 See ibid., pp. 70, 72, 271.

71 For the role played by the British monarch and the centrality of monarchical culture in the British empire, see Bushman, Richard L., King and people in provincial Massachusetts (Chapel Hill, NC, 1992); Halliday, Paul, Habeas Corpus: from England to empire (Cambridge, MA, 2010); Jasanoff, Maya, Liberty's exiles: American loyalists in the revolutionary world (New York, NY, 2011); McConville, Brendan, The king's three faces: the rise and fall of royal America, 1688–1776 (Chapel Hill, NC, 2006); Nelson, Eric, The royalist revolution: monarchy and the American founding (Cambridge, MA, 2014).

72 See, in particular, Frégault, La civilization; and Moogk, La Nouvelle France, for Canada. See also Dechêne, Louise, Le peuple, l’état et la guerre au Canada sous le régime Français (Québec, 2008). For treatment of this issue elsewhere in France and the French empire, see Collins, James B., The state in early modern France (Cambridge, 2009); and Ogle, Gene, ‘The trans-Atlantic king and imperial public spheres’, in Geggus, David Patrick and Fiering, Norman, eds., The world of the Haitian revolution (Bloomington, IN, 2009).

73 See Agnes, ‘La pétitionnaire universel’; Cerutti, Simona, ‘Travail, mobilité, et legitimité: suppliques au roi dans une société d'ancien régime’, Annales HSS, 56 (2010), pp. 571611 ; Poole, Steven, The politics of regicide in England, 1760–1850 (Manchester, 2000); Weiser, ‘Access and petitioning’.

74 Zaret, Origins of democratic culture, p. 86.

75 See, among others, Agnes, ‘La pétitionnaire universel’, p. 64; Hirst, Derek, ‘Making contact: petitions and the English Republic’, Journal of British Studies, 45 (2006), p. 27; Nicholls, ‘Addressing God as ruler’, pp. 130, 138; Vallance, ‘Harrington’, pp. 122, 131.

76 Koziol, Begging pardon and favor, pp. 44–5.

77 This is a point also made by Blais, ‘La représentation’, p. 4; and Shapiro, Gilbert and Markoff, John, ‘Officially-solicited petitions: the cahiers de doléances as a historical source’, International Review of Social History Supplement, 46 (2001), pp. 79106 .

78 For a related argument, see Bilder, Mary Sarah, ‘Salamanders and sons of God: the culture of appeal in Early New England’, in Tomlins, Christopher L. and Mann, Bruce H., eds., The many legalities of early America (Chapel Hill, NC, 2001), p. 69; Bilder, Mary Sarah, The transatlantic constitution: colonial legal culture and the empire (Cambridge, 2004).

79 Cecilia Nubola, ‘Supplications between politics and justice: the northern and central Italian states in the early modern age’, in van Voss, ed., Petitions in social history, p. 37.

80 Zaret, ‘Petition-and-response’.

81 R. W. Hoyle, ‘Petitioning as popular politics in early sixteenth-century England’, Historical Research, 75 (2002), pp. 365–89.

82 For this argument, see Higginson, ‘A short history’.

83 Moogk, La Nouvelle France, p. 72.

84 See Higginson, ‘A short history’; Lagrave, La liberté d'expression; van Voss, ed., Petitions in social history; Zaret, Origins of democratic culture.

85 For a related argument, see Curthoys, Ann and Mitchel, Jessie, ‘Bring this paper to the good governor: aboriginal petitioning in Britain's Australian colonies’, in Belmessous, Saliha, ed., Native claims: indigenous law against empire, 1500–1920 (Oxford, 2011), p. 184.

86 Hulsebosch, Daniel, ‘The American Revolution (II): the origin and nature of colonial grievances’, in Foster, Stephen, ed., British North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Oxford, 2014), pp. 289317 .

87 Hoyle, ‘Petitioning as popular politics’, p. 387.

88 See Hulsebosch, ‘The American Revolution (II)’.

89 Wickramasinghe, Nira, ‘La petition coloniale: objet de contrôle, objet de dissidence’, Identity, Culture & Politics: An Afro-Asian Dialogue, 7 (2006), pp. 116 .

90 Higginson, ‘A short history’, p. 153. See also Marcia Schmidt Blaine, ‘The power of petitions: women and the New Hampshire provincial government, 1695–1770’, in van Voss, ed., Petitions in social history, pp. 57–77.

91 See, in particular, Bradley, Popular politics; and Zaret, Origins, for the fees and roles of scriveners.

92 Hirst, ‘Making contact’, pp. 42–3.

93 For this argument, see Zaret, Origins of democratic culture. See also Bradley, Popular politics; Rebérioux, ‘Pétitionner’; van Voss, ed., Petitions in social history; Wilton, Carol, Popular politics and political culture in Upper Canada, 1800–1850 (Montreal, 2001).

94 Knights, Mark, Representation and misrepresentation in later Stuart Britain: partisanship and political culture (Oxford, 2005), pp. 111–12, 118.

95 I take this expression from Spurr, John, ‘A profane history of early modern oaths’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th ser., 11 (2001), pp. 3763 .

96 See van Voss, ed., Petitions in social history.

97 Morgan, Edmund, Inventing the people: the rise of popular sovereignty in England and America (New York, NY, 1988), p. 206.

98 Anonymous, The rights of the people to petition (London, 1769), pp. 22–3.

99 See Reid, John Phillip, A constitutional history of the American Revolution: the authority of rights (Madison, WI, 1986), pp. 21–3.

100 Moogk, La Nouvelle France, p. 271.

101 See Zaret, Origins of democratic culture. Some scholars would argue that petitions are inherently political even if they express individual requests; see van Voss, ed., Petitions in social history, as well as O'Connor, Patrick J., ‘Politics, indoors and out – étude critique/review essay’, Histoire Sociale, 69 (2002), pp. 235–43.

* My warmest thanks to Christian Blais, Nancy Christie, John-Paul Ghobrial, Mark Knights, Michel Morin, Marcus Muller, and David Zaret, as well as participants in the 2012 Symposium on Comparative Early Modern Legal History (Law and the French Atlantic) and the 2014 North American Conference on British Studies, for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this article. I am also grateful to the editors and anonymous reviewers of the Historical Journal for the time and attention they gave to this article.

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