In Frünenzeit-Info, 23, 2012: 45-52
Abstract: Civil court records have remained until recently an obscure source for historians of early modern France. These documents have been neglected and under used mostly because scholars have preferred to focus on the more colourful study of criminality. Recently, however, a new interest in local and seigneurial courts has stimulated a significant production of doctoral dissertations and manuscripts, which use and rehabilitate civil court records in historiography. This paper examines the historical value of such documents and presents recent developments and trends in historical research concerning French early modern civil courts and civil records. But more importantly, it also proposes a few new directions for research using this particular type of source, research that could enrich not only French historiography, but also the historiography of early modern justice.