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The First Modern Police Force and Equality Under the Law *

King Louis the 14th of France creates the first modern police force by appointing Gabriel Nicolas to the position of Lieutenant General of Police. The current police organization is an uncoordinated mish-mosh of local police districts and the royal watch which consists of archers on the wall ready to shoot. (Don't start a riot.) The Lieutenant General is nominally a nobleman, but in fact, Gabriel was born to a poor family, married into a noble family and bought his way to higher office. (This is considered a normal career path.) He uses his royal commission to impose good order and discipline in a coordinated fashion and requires policemen to patrol their districts at least once every 14 days, wear clean uniforms and send him written reports. He also instructs detectives to solve crimes using stricter standards of evidence. This new organization becomes the first recognizable modern police force. The Lieutenant General is not winning a lot of friends, but the nobles are going along with the changes. For now, the police are fighting crime. In later years the police will be used to impose public policy. They will be disbanded during the French Revolution but return under Napoleon as the Prefecture of Police. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the modern day, the Paris police are known as "the archers". People still remember the police as men on the wall waiting to shoot anyone who gets out of line. England didn't have a modern police force until 1750. Before that time, policing, such as it was, was conducted by the sheriff, private armsmen, and those having an interest in general good order such as local citizens. The system worked OK for catching habitual offenders. After all, most locals knew who the bad guys were and the sheriff knew as well. The system didn't work very efficiently when the person committing the crime was a very important person. Now that I think of it... the system STILL works that way. Equality under the law is a very old concept that is remembered more in its violation than in its use. It didn't start with the American Revolution. It comes from the Bible:
Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. -- Leviticus 19:15.[5]

Do the French Have Better Blood?

The French believe that "the Blood of France" can improve the Indians of the French colonies. That is why they have set up a fund to provide dowries for Indians girls. Very few French women want to sail to Quebec to marry men who hunt for animal pelts so Catholic nuns are commissioned to convert local Indian girls to Catholicism and to teach them French manners so that they will make proper wives for Frenchmen. It doesn't work. Although the local Indians are receptive to conversion, the nuns complain that less than 1 in 100 Indian girls can be taught French manners so the project is abandoned. France believes they are the pinnacle of civilization. War has destroyed most of Germany. Spain is on the downswing, and England has barely discovered tea. But Paris has an organized police force and nobles from every nation want to send their children to French schools. This will have a profound effect on the attitude of the next generation toward anything French. People are even using forks! Unfortunately, the King still eats with his fingers. You can't have everything. [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
When Cain murdered Able, Able's "bloods" cried out as if generations-unborn protested. A blood feud is considered a family obligation of revenge for the death of a family member even if that death is judged an accident. The Code of Hammurabi allowed for a blood debt to be paid with blood so that if a man accidentally killed a child, the parent of that child was allowed to kill the man's child. Even when the Bible outlawed such revenge killing, it understood that people still wanted a blood payment. They provided "cities of refuge," so that if a man could reach such a city, he was safe from a blood feud. In the modern day we still consider blood connections as part of one's nature. We say, "Blood is thicker than water" or "The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree" or "Like father, like son." When the Soviet Union would uncover counter-revolutionary elements, otherwise known as a spies, the spy would be shot. In addition, the spy's family would be rounded up and punished. In a literal sense, the government believed: "Blood will out". [8] [9] [10] [11]

Paradise Lost! The Republic Has Fallen

John Milton plunks down 5 pounds sterling and publishes his epic poem, Paradise Lost. Personally speaking, everyone hates him with a hot, hot hate because he supported Oliver Cromwell and his failed British republic, but they LOVE his poem. It is about Satan's rebellion against Heaven's yoke. "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." It is seen as an allegory of the recent British civil war, its struggle with self-rule and its return to the monarchy. (Spoiler alert: Cromwell is Satan.) With London recovering from Plague and rising from the ashes of the Great Fire of last year. It all seems like Divine punishment, and then this decrepit old blind man, John Milton, comes out with a work of genius. They love it. It will remain a classic into the modern day and a source of some really great quotes. [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
  • The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.
  • Here we may reign secure; and, in my choice,
To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.
  • What though the field be lost?
All is not lost; th’ unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield.
  • Who overcomes
By force, hath overcome but half his foe.
  • Ofttimes nothing profits more
Than self-esteem, grounded on just and right
Well managed. [13]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1667, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. GABRIEL NICOLAS DE LA REYNIE (French). Encyclopaedia Universalis (2015). Retrieved on 27 October 2015. “From Google translate: Instrument of despotism of Louis XIV and his ministers, La Regnie establish its authority over the old powers: the governor of Paris, nobleman reduced to a brilliant figuration, holders, secular or ecclesiastical, landlocked strongholds in Paris, Parliament used until then to take policing settlement judgments, the provost and the Paris municipality, the lieutenant who retains precedence. In continuous correspondence with ministers, sometimes called by the king, La Regnie is the man of confidence of the central power in the capital; it is used to its functions staff role of judge or prosecutor in large extraordinary trial: that of the Chevalier de Rohan beheaded for conspiracy, that of Case poisons. Both administrator, police officer and judge...”
  2. Riley, Philip F. (Summer 1983). "Hard Times, Police and the Making of Public Policy in the Paris of Louis XIV". Historical Reflections (Réflexions Historiques) (Berghahn Books) 10 (2): 313-334. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41298817. Retrieved October 27, 2015. "With Louis's active support, his lieutenants required the commissaires to keep archives, wear clean uniforms, and improve the quality of their neighborhood police. Assigned two or sometimes three to a quarter, the commissaires were prodded to patrol their quarter at least once a fortnight, write detailed reports of these patrols, keep file copies of all correspondence, and send daily reports to the lieutenant's bureau in the Chatelet.". 
  3. Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 21 October 2015. “While the edict conferred on Reynie certain responsibilities it allowed him the freedom to organize his administration by gathering under its authority the old institutions. At that time, four 'police forces' competed within Paris: police chiefs, archers and freemen of the guet royal (royal watch), the company of the criminal lieutenant, and the Provost of the city. De la Reynie reorganized these forces and took them under his wing. They were charged with ensuring the safety of the streets of Paris and supervising the environs of Paris. In addition to this, Reynie re-establishied royal authority in place of the Governor of Paris, those who held fiefdoms within Paris, and the Parlement, which had until then dealt with police, commercial, and municipal regulation.”
  4. Cornwell, Patricia Daniels. "Chapter 9: The Dark Lantern", Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed. Berkley Books. ISBN 0425192733. “London was protected by night watchmen armed with staves, lanterns, and wooden noisemakers called rattles that made a startling clack-clack-clack sound when the head was spun. It wasn't until 1750 that times began to change. Henry Fielding, better known as an author than a magistrate, gathered a faithful group of constables under his command. With £400 allotted by the government, Fielding formed the first squadron of 'thief-takers.'” 
  5. Leviticus 19:15 (Parallel Verses). BibleHub.com (2015). Retrieved on 27 October 2015. “New International Version: Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”
  6. Alex Shrugged notes: My remarks are built upon previous history segments and my own memory.
  7. Louis XIV of France - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 27 October 2015. “He sought to eliminate the remnants of feudalism persisting in parts of France and, by compelling many members of the nobility to inhabit his lavish Palace of Versailles (formerly a hunting lodge belonging to Louis's father), succeeded in pacifying the aristocracy, many members of which had participated in the Fronde rebellion during Louis's minority. By these means he became one of the most powerful French monarchs and consolidated a system of absolute monarchical rule in France that endured until the French Revolution.”
  8. Aubert, Guillaume (July 2004). "'The Blood of France': Race and Purity of Blood in the French Atlantic World". The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture) 61 (3): 439-478. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3491805. Retrieved October 27, 2015. "In his instructions to Talon, Colbert remarked that although the Algonquins and Hurons of New France had 'long been submitted to the authority of the King ... little [had] been done to stir them away from their savage customs and to compel them to follow ours.' Therefore, he instructed the intendant to 'try to attract these peoples, especially those who embraced Christianity in the vicinity of our habitations, and if possible to have them live there so that after some time, having one law and one master, they may form one people and one blood [un mesme peuple et un mesme sang].' Shortly after Talon received his instructions, Versailles established a fund to provide dowries for prospective Indian brides.". 
  9. English proverbs and sayings with their meaning - alphabetical list B. Learn English Today (1969). Retrieved on 27 October 2015. “Family relationships are stronger than relationships with other people.”
  10. Hatfield–McCoy feud - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 27 October 2015. “Those involved in the feud were descended from Ephraim Hatfield (born c. 1765) and William McCoy (born c. 1750). The feud has entered the American folklore lexicon as a metonym for any bitterly feuding rival parties. More than a century later, the feud has become synonymous with the perils of family honor, justice, and revenge.”
  11. Feud - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 27 October 2015. “A blood feud is a feud with a cycle of retaliatory violence, with the relatives of someone who has been killed or otherwise wronged or dishonored seeking vengeance by killing or otherwise physically punishing the culprits or their relatives.”
  12. Milton and the Critics: The Reception of Paradise Lost. darknessvisible.christs.cam.ac.uk (2008). Retrieved on 21 October 2015. “With the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Milton was out in the cold: as a staunch republican, a supporter of Cromwell and an apologist for the regicide, he was lucky to escape execution for treason. His unorthodox views on various sensitive subjects, including divorce (he was in favour) were well known: Milton was an active writer of political pamphlets as well as a poet, and he had many influential enemies. England in 1667 was reeling from the events of the previous year, when plague and fire had swept the capital, causing a devastation many people thought was divinely inspired; a biblical epic from a blind, grim old controversialist was by no means certain of being sympathetically received, as the poet's wish that his poem might 'fit audience find, though few' (VII.31) perhaps recognises. In spite of this unwelcoming climate, when Paradise Lost appeared, it was hailed as a work of genius, even by Milton's political opponents.”
  13. Paradise Lost. Gutenberg.org. Retrieved on 28 October 2015.

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