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In his novel The Three Musketeers, Dumas describes Richelieu giving the following paper to Milady de Winter:

C'est par mon ordre et pour le bien de l'Etat que le porteur du present a fait ce qu'il a fait.

3 decembre 1627.


Translated into English:

Dec. 3, 1627

It is by my order and for the good of the state that the bearer of this has done what he has done.


So my two questions:

  1. Is it just a literature, or were these kinds of papers given in the real life of 17th century France?

  2. Does the author refer to a particular kind of official paper which could have been given by a cardinal or a first minister to a known set of people according to a law or a custom, or is this just a note?

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1 Answer 1

I see nothing special in that the cardinal could give such a letter to facilitate assistance to his envoy.

On the other hand, I am sure that such a letter would not have any legal force in case of trial or charges.

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Do you have sources? –  American Luke Nov 9 '12 at 0:49
@Luke there is no need for sources to assert that Cardinal (as any other man) could write such paper. The signature of the cardinal could help the bearer receive assistance from the cardinal's subordinates and friends. This does not give any legal right though because Cardinal was not a sovereign and could not give exemptions from the law. –  Anixx Nov 9 '12 at 0:52
In short it is just an accompanying letter addressed to those to whom his authority is important. –  Anixx Nov 9 '12 at 0:54
It might not, or it might. We need a source here. –  Felix Goldberg Dec 2 '12 at 1:04
@Felix Goldberg of course he might, as anybody. –  Anixx Dec 2 '12 at 10:17

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