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L'exécuteur des sentences criminelles en France au dernier siècle de l'Ancien Régime

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The executioner in France in the last century of the Ancien Régime. – In the eighteenth century, many executioners were granted letters of provision and became officers of the Crown. The value of their office may have been modest, but their earnings were certainly not negligible. One of their sources of income, the droit de havage, was particularly profitable in some cities, although it was eventually reduced as a result of protests from the merchants' communities and through interventions of the local authorities and the central government. Although both legal doctrine and the population at large considered that the office of executioner was tainted by infamy, the latter maintained an ambiguous attitude towards executioners, who were associated with healing powers. In some cases, executioners, confronted with negative prejudices, sought remedies in law in order to protect their honour, freedom and interests.

Affiliations: 1: Centre d'histoire Judiciaire (CHJ), CNRS-UMR n° 8025, Faculté de droit, Université Lille 2, 1, Déliot, F- 59000 Lille, France;, Email:


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