Monday, February 20, 2012

Madame la Présidente

In Ancien Régime France, the title of présidente belonged to the presiding magistrates of the Parlements, the high court of Paris as well as the provinces which enjoyed the rights of their own courts, the pays d'états.

The office of présidente became venal bn the 17th century, making it effectively hereditary provided the owner paid a tax, the paulette, to the crown for the privilege.

As with most herditary titles, wives of the présidentes were addressed by their husbands' offices, thus the object of the vicomte de Valmont's passion in Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses is formally addressed as Madame la Présidente de Tourvel, or more simply, Madame la Présidente.

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