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A Tale of Two Murders: Passion and Power in Seventeenth-Century France

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As scandalous as any modern-day celebrity murder trial, the 'Giroux affair' was a maelstrom of intrigue, encompassing daggers, poison, adultery, arch-enemies, servants and royalty, and legal proceedings that reached to the pinnacle of seventeenth-century French society. In 1638, Philippe Giroux, a judge in the highest royal court of Burgundy, allegedly murdered his equally powerful cousin, Pierre Balliet, and Balliet's valet, Philibert Neugot. The murders were all the more shocking because they were surrounded by accusations (particularly that Giroux had been carrying on a passionate affair with Balliet's wife), conspiracy theories (including allegations that Giroux tried to poison his mother-in-law), and unexplained deaths (Giroux's wife and her physician died under suspicious circumstances).

The trial lasted from 1639 until 1643 and came to involve many of the most distinguished and influential men in France: among them, Henri II Bourbon, the Prince of Conde; the Prime Minister, Cardinal Richelieu; and King Louis XIII. James R. Farr reveals the Giroux affair as not only a riveting murder mystery but also an illuminating point of entry into the dynamics of power, justice, and law in seventeenth-century France. Drawing on the voluminous trial records, Farr uses Giroux's experience in the court system to trace the mechanisms of power - both the formal power vested by law in judicial officials and the informal power exerted by the nobility through patron-client relationships. He does not take a position on Giroux's guilt or innocence. Instead, he allows readers to draw their own conclusions about who did what to whom on that ill-fated evening in 1638.

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Additional Information

Additional Information

Author James R. Farr
Binding Paperback
Condition New
Pages 224
ISBN-13 9780822334712
Publisher Duke University Press


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