La Chalotais, Louis Rene De Caradeuc De
LA CHALOTAIS, LOUIS RENE DE CARADEUC DE (1701- 1785), French jurist, was born at Rennes, on the 6th of March 1701. He was for 60 years procureur general at the parliament of Brittany. He was an ardent opponent of the Jesuits, drew up in 1761 for the parliament a memoir on the constitutions of the Order, which did much to secure its suppression in France; and in 1763 published a remarkable "Essay on National Education," in which he proposed a programme of scientific studies as a substitute for those taught by the Jesuits. The same year began the conflict between the Estates of Brittany and the governor of the province, the due d'Aiguillon (q.v.). The Estates refused to vote the extraordinary imposts demanded by the governor in the name of the king. La Chalotais was the personal enemy of d'Aiguillon, who had served him an ill turn with the king, and when the parliament of Brittany sided with the Estates, he took the lead in its opposition. The parliament forbade by decrees the levy of imposts to which the Estates had not consented. The king annulling these decrees, all the members of the parliament but twelve resigned (October 1764 to May 1765). The government considered La Chalotais one of the authors of this affair. At this time the secretary of state who administered the affairs of the province, Louis Philypeaux, due de la Vrilliere, comte de Saint-Florentin (1705-1777), received two anonymous and abusive letters. La Chalotais was suspected of having written them, and three experts in handwriting declared that they were by him. The government therefore arrested him, his son and four other members of the parliament. The arrest made a great sensation. There was much talk of " despotism." Voltaire stated that the procureur general, in his prison of Saint Malo, was reduced, for lack of ink, to write his defence with a toothpick dipped in vinegar which was apparently pure legend; but public opinion all over France was strongly aroused against the government. On the 16th of November 1765 a commission of judges was named to take charge of the trial. La Chalotais maintained that the trial was illegal; being procureur general he claimed the right to be judged by the parliament of Rennes, or failing this by the parliament of Bordeaux, according to the custom of the province. The judges did not dare to pronounce a condemnation on the evidence of experts in handwriting, and at the end of a year, things remained where they were at the first. Louis XV. then decided on a sovereign act, and brought the affair before his council, which without further formality decided to send the accused into exile. That expedient but increased the popular agitation; philosophes, members of the parliament, patriot Bretons and Jansenists all declared that La Chalotais was the victim of the personal hatred of the due d'Aiguillon and of the Jesuits. The government at last gave way, and consented to recaU the members of the parliament of Brittany who had resigned. This parliament, when it met again, after the formal accusation of the due d'Aiguillon, demanded the recall of La Chalotais. This was accorded in 1775, and La Chalotais was allowed to transmit his office to his son. In this affair public opinion showed itself stronger than the absolutism of the king. The opposition to the royal power gained largely through it, and it may be regarded as one of the preludes to the revolution of 1789. La Chalotais, who was personally a violent, haughty and unsympathetic character, died at Rennes on the 12th of July 1785.
See, besides the Comptes-Rendus des Constitutions des Jesuites and the Essai d education nationals, the Memoires de la Chalotais (3 vols , 1766-1767). Two works containing detailed bibliographies are Marion, La Bretagne et le due d'Aiguillon (Paris, 180-1) and B Pocquet, Le Due d'Aiguillon et La Chalotais (Paris, 1901). See also a controversy between these two authors in the Bulletin critique for 1902.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)