World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts

Article Id: WHEBN0000697827
Reproduction Date:

Title: Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: French language, Francis I of France, History of French, Villers-Cotterêts, Kingdom of France
Collection: 1539 in France, 1539 in Law, Francis I of France, Francophonie, French Language, Language Policy, Laws and Ordinances of the Ancien Régime
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts


The Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts (French: Ordonnance de Villers-Cotterêts) is an extensive piece of reform legislation signed into law by Francis I of France on August 10, 1539 in the city of Villers-Cotterêts and the oldest French legislation still used partly by French courts.

Largely the work of Chancellor Guillaume Poyet, this legislative edict in 192 articles dealt with a number of government, judicial and ecclesiastical matters (ordonnance générale en matière de police et de justice).

Articles 110 and 111, the most famous, called for the use of French in all legal acts, notarized contracts and official legislation in order to avoid any linguistic confusion:

Nous voullons et ordonnons qu’ilz soient faictz et escrits si clerement qu’il n’y ait ne puisse avoir aucune ambiguïté ou incertitude, ni lieu à en demander interpretacion. Et pour ce que telles choses sont souventesfoys advenues sur l'intelligence des motz latins contenuz esdictz arretz, Nous voulons que doresenavant tous arretz ensemble toutes autres procedeures, soyent de nous cours souveraines ou aultres subalternes et inferieures, soyent de registres, enquestes, contractz, commissions, sentences, testamens et aultres quelzconques actes et exploictz de justice ou qui en dependent, soient prononcez, enregistrez et delivrez aux parties en langage maternel francoys et non autrement.
We wish and order that [judicial acts] be drawn up and written so clearly that there be neither ambiguity nor uncertainty nor the possibility of ambiguity or uncertainty, nor grounds for asking for interpretation thereof. And because so many things often happen due to [poor] understanding of Latin words used in decrees, we intend that henceforth all decrees and other proceedings, whether of our sovereign courts or others, subordinate and inferior, or whether in records, surveys, contracts, commissions, awards, wills, and all other acts and deeds of justice or of law, that all such acts are spoken, written, and given to the parties [concerned] in the French mother tongue, and not otherwise.

Goals

The major goal of these articles was to discontinue the use of Latin in official documents (although Latin continued to be used in church registers in some regions of France), but they also had an effect on the use of the other languages and dialects spoken in many regions of France.

Other articles required that priests record baptisms (needed for determining the age of candidates for ecclesiastical office) and burials, and that these acts be signed by notaries.

Another article prohibited guilds and trade federations (toute confrérie de gens de métier et artisans) in an attempt to suppress workers' strikes (although mutual-aid groups were unaffected).

Many of these clauses marked a move towards an expanded, unified and centralized state and the clauses on the use of French marked a major step towards the linguistic and ideological unification of France at a time of growing national sentiment and identity.

See also

Gallery

The first manuscript page of the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts, 1539.
Title page of the printed version of the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts, August 1539.
Printed version of article 111 of the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts, prescribing the use of French in official documents.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.