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About this Famous Person

MALESHERBES

French MALESHERBES

born Chrétien Guillaume de LAMOIGNON de MALESHERBES

French statesman, minister, and afterwards counsel for the defence of Louis XVI

Source :  François de SURVILLE

Born: on December 06, 1721 in Paris, France
Died: on April 22, 1794 in Paris, France


Biography

Born at Paris from a famous legal family, Malesherbes was educated for the legal profession. The young lawyer soon proved his intellectual capacity, when he was appointed president of the cour des aides in the parlement of Paris in 1750 on the promotion of his father, Guillaume de Lamoignon de Blancmesnil, to be chancellor. One of the chancellor's duties was to control the press, and this duty was entrusted to Malesherbes by his father during his eighteen years of office, and brought him into connection with the public far more than his judicial functions. To carry it out efficiently he kept in communication with the literary leaders of Paris, and especially with Diderot, and Friedrich Melchior, baron von Grimm even goes so far as to say that "without the assistance of Malesherbes the Encyclopédie would probably never have been published".

In 1771 he was called upon to mix in politics; the parlements of France had been dissolved, and a new method of administering justice devised by Maupeou, which was in itself commendable as tending to the better and quicker administration of justice, but pernicious as exhibiting a tendency to over-centralization, and as abolishing the hereditary "nobility of the robe", which, with all its faults, had from its nature preserved some independence, and been a check on the royal power. Malesherbes presented a strong remonstrance against the new system, and was at once banished to his country seat at Malesherbes, to be recalled, however, with the old parlement on the accession of Louis XVI, and to be made minister of the maison du roi in 1775.

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