Law & Politics Book Review has reviewed A Revolution in Commerce: The Parisian Merchant Court and the Rise of Commerical Society in Eighteenth-Century France, by Amalia Kessler, Stanford University. From the review:
This thoroughly researched book deals with a topic that might seem exotic to many: the Parisian merchant court in the 18th century and the way it not only adapted to, but also contributed to shape “the rise of commercial society.” It should however attract readers well beyond specialists of France and/or economic history, for methodological as well as substantive reasons. It makes a convincing case for the use of archival material created by the daily workings of a (first degree) court.Read the review en francais!
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Such courts of lay judges still exist today: this interesting French peculiarity had however attracted little or no research before Amalia Kessler, who was the first to dive into the massive archives of a court that dealt with hundreds of cases each week. What she gives is however much more than an institutional monograph.
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A more obvious, but not less useful contribution of the book lies in its careful reconstitution of the day-to-day workings of the court, and especially in its reflections about the social and cultural significance of various aspects of procedure.