Convenience and Consent: Public Inquiries in 18th-Century France

Special Report: Participating in History
By Frédéric Graber

This paper examines several consultative procedures of 18th-century France used by different institutions, but with similar names: de commodo et incommodo inquiries (“advantages and disadvantages?). They aimed to establish the public benefit while determining existing rights and interests before deciding on a project or policy. This essay focuses primarily on judicial procedures prior to the registration of letters patented by parliaments, on inquiries by provincial intendants prior to the decisions of the king’s council. The paper examines and compares the logic of these procedures, their goals, and their participatory dimensions.


  • public inquiry
  • commodo et incommodo
  • consulting
  • registration
  • justice
  • projects
  • parlement
  • intendant
  • France
  • 18th Century
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