The law was feared but widely despised, and not just because of its inefficiency and cost: peace was a Christian obligation and litigation best avoided. Repression had its limits and the law maintained order by promoting equilibrium: mediation and arbitration were encouraged by the ubiquity of royal letters of pardon. Mercy was a sovereign duty and a pillar of royal authority. Letters of remission proper were issued by the petty chanceries attached to Parlements for minor crimes and cases of accidental death and self-defence. Secondly, there were pardons or abolitions issued by the grand chancery under the aegis of the chancellor. Those who received remissions had immediate relief from criminal proceedings, which were suspended. This chapter also discusses reconciliation and settlement for cases except murder, along with reparation and satisfaction, in early modern France.
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