Religion, Reformation, and Repression in the Reign of Francis I: Documents from the Parlement of Paris, 1515–1547

Edited by
James K. Farge

Volume 1: Documents 1515–1543 • Volume 2: Documents 1544–1547

Studies and Texts 196. 760 + 768 pp. (2 volumes). ISBN 978-0-88844-196-6 • Cloth • $210

The vast treasure of manuscript archives of the Parlement of Paris – the Supreme Court of justice in ancien régime France – has been exploited over the centuries by a number of scholars in several disciplines. The notable exception is that very few historians of religion in sixteenth-century France have delved into these rich and remarkable resources. This edition of nearly 1200 documents – the great majority previously unpublished – is based on an examination of more than 100,000 manuscript pages in over a hundred of the Court’s registers and cartons.

The documents concern such issues and events as the Concordat of Bologna, the reformation of monasteries and priories, the confrontation between conservative and reform-minded Catholics, hundreds of trials of accused heretics (among them the trials and execution of Louis de Berquin and of Étienne Dolet), the placards of 1534, the censorship of books, the use of torture and capital punishment, royal and papal edicts, briefs, ordonnances, and letters relating to religion and the suppression of heresy, and the gradual but striking evolution of King Francis I from a policy of toleration to one of repression of the Reformation.

Published in the original Middle French, each document is preceded by a short descriptive title and, in most cases, a contextualizing headnote, and is thoroughly but discreetly annotated. A wide-ranging Introduction presents the organisation of the Parlement, its scope of authority and method of proceeding, and the historiography that has shaped our understanding of its reach. Three comprehensive indexes give access to the thousands of persons, places, and topics that appear in the documents.


James K. Farge is a Fellow of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto. He is the author of Orthodoxy and Reform in Early Modern France (1985), and Le parti conservateur au XVIe siècle (1992), editor of Students and Teachers at the University of Paris (2006) and also of two volumes of the proceedings (1990, 1994) of the Faculty of Theology at the University. He is also on the Editorial Board of the Collected Works of Erasmus, and edited volume 13 of the Correspondence.


“This edition magnificently documents the role of the Parlement of Paris in preserving the Catholic religion from the challenges of the Protestant Reformation whilst trying to maintain its Gallican principles and historic legal role in the face of interventions by the powerful Renaissance French monarch, Francis I. It is unique in providing scholars with extensive, year-by-year documentary evidence for the court’s activity, and invaluable as a study in how the court pursued cases and recorded its decisions. It corrects previous scholarship and offers significant new insights on the court’s oversight of publishing and information circulation. The work complements James Farge’s previous studies and will take its place as the authoritative edition of the activities of the court in this period.”

The University of Sheffield


“This carefully selected and edited collection of documents concerning the Parlement of Paris’s treatment of 'matters of religion' ... during the reign of Francis I is a great gift to scholars of the Reformation and of sixteenth-century France. It clarifies not just what the magistrates of the Parlement did during their workdays but also how they conceived of their duty—their religious duty, one might say—as judges of the Most Christian King of France. ... This is a rich, useful, and provocative resource.” — Tyler Lange for The Catholic Historical Review (2016)

“At a time when many libraries are getting rid of books as outmoded, and even academic publishers are limiting the size of their print-runs, the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto deserves the highest praise for producing such a rich and meticulously edited collection of primary sources for the reign of Francis I. Professor Farge deserves our admiration and gratitude for the immense task he has accomplished so skillfully and which will be of incalculable value to future scholars.” — Robert Knecht for H-France Review 16 (2016)


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