Amidst the excitement and tumult of 1789, as a nation was being shaped in the halls of the Jeu de Paume, the National Assembly invented a new crime. Modelled on the traditional crime of lèse-majesté as if to better illustrate the transfer of sovereignty, the crime of 'lèse-nation' was designed to protect the Revolution and its new values.
Jean-Christophe Gaven presents a large and remarkably thorough dossier on the beginnings of the Revolution, when royal sovereignty and national sovereignty were in competition. The author’s approach takes the form of a rigorous appeal, describing how and why the nation chose to create a new, separate form of criminal protection. The second, denser section of this volume then examines the dimension of ‘political justice’ included in the crime of lèse-nation. The author works meticulously to decipher the birth of this new form of criminal and political justice, entirely devoted to protecting the Revolution and its ambitions.
Jean-Christophe Gaven is a professor of legal history at the Université Toulouse 1 Capitole. He is a member of the Centre toulousain d’histoire du droit et des idées politiques (Toulouse Centre for the History of the Law and Political Ideas). He works primarily on the history of the law, criminal punishment, and political justice.