Schedule of Villers-Cotterêts

L'une des page de l'ordonnance de Villers-Cotterêts
One of the page of the ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts

schedule (or, improperly the edict) of Villers-Cotterêts is a document signed with Villers-Cotterêts by . Strong of 192 articles, it carries reform of the ecclesiastical, reduced jurisdiction certain prerogatives of the cities and makes compulsory the behaviour of the registers of baptisms. It is especially known to be the act founder of the primacy and the exclusiveness in in the documents relating to the public life; indeed, to facilitate the good comprehension of the acts of the administration and justice, it forces to them to be written in this language. French becomes thus official of the right and the administration, instead of and other languages of the country.

This ordinance, entitled exactly " General ordinance on the fact of justice, organizes and finances "was written by chancellor Guillaume Poyet, lawyer and member of the Private Council of the king. It was called a long time Guillemine in reference to its author. Out of the Public records, there are only two original specimens on parchment: one with the Files of Aix-en-Provence, the other with the Departmental records of Isere.



As of XIIIE century, the royal notaries wrote in French and it is between XIVE century and it that French gradually asserted itself like administrative language in the royal charters, with the detriment certainly of Latin but also of the other vulgar languages. The ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts has done nothing but support one movement of linguistic centralization already started for several centuries. One should not lose sight of the fact only at that time (and this until XIXE century, movement which ended only with XXE century, during ), French was not the language of the people, which practised the very many languages of oïl and oc that one names "patois pejoratively", but primarily that of the Court, of the elites (nobility and clergy), of the tradesmen and a part of .

The ordinance falls under a succession of royal decisions gradually replacing Latin by the mother tongues in the acts of the right. An ordinance, that of Montils-lès-turns, promulgated in by Charles VII, had obliged that one wrote the oral habits, which held place of right; these draftings were done in vulgar languages, that it is languages of oïl in north, ofoc in the south. Other royal edicts recommended the vulgar languages, without making compulsory French:

  • schedule Mills, by Charles VIII in : it obliges so that the vulgar and maternal languages, and not it , is used in interrogations and the verbal lawsuits;
  • in by Louis XII : this ordinance imposes that the legal language for all the acts of justice is that of the people, and not Latin; of kind, the right was to be known as in the multitude of the languages present in France at that time;
  • schedule of Is-on-Bast by in : the ordinance of Louis XII is extended to Languedoc.

Contents of the ordinance

It was written as average French; the orthography of origin is respected.

Concerning the behaviour of the registers

art. 51. Also will be faict register in the form of proof of the baptesmes, which will contain the time of the hour of the nativite, and by the extraict dud. register will be able to prove the time of majority or minority and will make flat foy has ceste fine.
(Either in modern French: Also register for proof of the baptisms will be held, which will contain the time and the hour of the birth, and whose extract will be used to prove the time of the majority or the minority and will be taken full for this purpose.)

Concerning the use of the French language in the instruments

art. 110. That the arretz are clers and entendibles
And so that it y ayt does not cause a doubter on the intelligence desdictz arretz. We want and order that ilz is faictz and escriptz so clerement that it y ayt cannot have aulcune ambiguity or uncertainty, place does not have to require interpretacion of it.
(Either in modern French: That the stops are clear and comprehensible, and so that there is no reason to doubt on the direction of these stops, we want and order that they are made and written so clearly that there cannot be any ambiguity or uncertainty, nor of reason to ask an explanation of it.)
art. 111To pronounce and expedier all acts in langaige françoys
And for what such things are souventesfoys occurred on the intelligence of the Latin motz contenuz be dictz arretz. We want that doresenavant all arretz together all aultres procedeures, are run us sovereign or aultres subordinates and inferieures, are registers, enquestes, contractz, commisions, sentences, testamens and aultres quelzconques acts and exploictz of justice or who dependent some, are pronounce, record and will delivrez with the parts in maternal language francoys and not aultrement.
(Either in modern French: Of saying and making all the acts in French language
And because such things arrived very often, in connection with [ bad ] the comprehension of the Latin words used in the stops, we want that henceforth all the stops and other procedures, that they are our courses sovereign or different, subordinates and lower, or that it is on the registers, investigations, contracts, commissions, sentences, wills and all the other legal provisions and exploits of justice or, that all these acts are said, written and given to the parts in French mother tongue, and not differently.)

Another legal provision

The ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts contains also a provision which could be seen like the appearance of the self-defence in the French right. Indeed, it specifies that that which acted to be defended is exonerated by the grace of the king.

See too


External bonds


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