Legal Interpretation and the Use of Legal Literature in 18th Century Law Reports of the “Parlement” de Flandre
In 1667, the southern part of the Spanish Low country was conquered by Louis XIV, and came under French sovereignty. In the same year, a high court of justice was created in Tournay, not only as an expression of sovereignty in the newly conquered territory, but also as a guarantee of local customs. Twenty years later it became known as “Parlement”. Several judges of the court took private notes of the court’s practice and in the late 17th and the first years of the 18th century, collections of court decisions were also printed. They can now provide information about different sources of law; about the relations between local customary law, royal statutes and ius commune; and about the interpretation of law by the Flemish court. Interpretation could then act in two ways: on one hand, as a legal and political instrument to preserve local customary law from foreign influence (i.e. French Law); and on the other hand, as a way to pursue royal centralization and a more uniformed law, paving the way to codification.