A remarkable, unpublished chronicle of the legal evolution of Lille, borne witness by the members of the Magistrat, or Loi, who are listed by name almost every year from 1303-1655. The Loi was led by the rewart (respector amicitiae), who, in addition to being the most visible of the voting constituent of the Conclave, also served as chief of the civic militia. (DuPlessis, Robert S. Lille and the Dutch Revolt: Urban Stability in an Era of Revolution, 1500-1582. Cambridge: CUP, 1991, p. 19.) Each year the requirements for inclusion in the Conclave differed, but for the highly active mid-16th century, the members were the 12-strong bench of échevins (municipal alderman), the council, comprising four voir-jurés and eight jurés, and finally the eight huit-hommes. Non-voting members of the Conclave included five apaiseurs, five gard'orphènes, and several civil servants, among which were treasurers, conseillers, procurer-syndics, and two clerks—one for civil and one for criminal affairs. (DuPlessis, p. 18) The present manuscript lists many of the members of each year's Loi, beginning in 1301. First listed, following the rewart, are the échevins, who had a hand in virtually all quotidian civic matters, from chimney inspections to toll collections (DuPlessis, p. 18); then conseillers, or city jurists; then the huit-hommes, who set tax structures and quotas at the discretion of the aldermen, and were always of course eight in number; then the voir-jurés and jurés, who arbitrated with the aldermen on most non-judicial issues; finally the apaiseurs, who settled the more trivial disputes among townspeople, and the gard'orphènes, who had the highly specialized duty of managing the property of bourgeois orphans. Other nonvoting members occasionally listed in various years are comptes de banse and argentiers. Only citizens of Lille were eligible for duty, and only about 5% of Lille's population were citizens. The compiler of our manuscript, J. Parent, is unknown, but could be related to the Lillois author Jean Parent, whose fluorit was the late 16th century but whose only work, Miroir des supérieurs, contenant la manière de bien gouverner, was published in 1643. A most compelling manuscript, in its original and entirely unsophisticated state.
Lille: 1655.Folio, 320 x 221 x 35 mm (text block), 358 x 240 x 50 mm (slipcase), three visible watermarks: an armorial crowned shield with three fleurs-de-lys related to Heawood 643 [Paris, 1671], not in Piccard or Gaudriault; horn, related to Heawood 2629 [Schleswig, 1654], not in Piccard or Gaudriault; one-eared pot over illegible letters, not in Heawood, Piccard, or Gaudriault. Collation impracticable, but 13 gatherings generally in twelves, 167 ff, the first fourteen leaves unfoliated, then 147 leaves in contemporary foliation, f. 79 excised but text continuous, f. 80 repeated, 6 unfoliated leaves at end, a papillon pinned to the first of these, first two and last five leaves blanks, justification variable, without guidelines or catchwords, some guide-folds in evidence, text in gallotannic ink in at least three hands. Gathering bounds in notarial style on two vellum slips, paper covers, titled on upper cover in contemporary manuscript; covers worn and soiled, sewing broken on upper station of last gathering, upper cover with 3-sq.-in section torn away, text not affected, volume preserved in a contemporary card chemise, with ties present, worn, mended at caps, all contained in a modern chemise and slipcase in good condition. Interior: Fore-edge soiled, first and last leaves finger-soiled, ten leaves in first gathering present but not bound in.
Provenance: Engraved ex-libris of André Joseph Ghislain Le Glay (1785-1863), a physician, historian and archivist, best known for his Mémoire sur les archives de l'Abbaye de Beaupré [Dunkerque: Benjamin Kien, 1857], and for his Catalogue descriptif des manuscrits de la bibliothèque de Lille [Lille: Vanackere, 1848], a reference in which the current manuscript does not occur.
DuPlessis, Robert S. Lille and the Dutch Revolt: Urban Stability in an Era of Revolution, 1500-1582. Cambridge: CUP, 1991, p. 19.