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Law Dictionary Collection

François Ragueau (d. 1605)

François Ragueau. Glossaire du droit francais: contenant l'explication des mots difficiles qui se trouvent dans les ordonnances de nos roys, dans les coustumes du royaume, dans les anciens arrests et les anciens titres. 2 vols. Paris: J. et M. Guignard, 1704.
26 cm.

François Ragueau was born in Mehun, in Berry, France, probably near the middle of the century. Title page, Glossaire de droit francais, 1704.Ragueau studied under the French legal humanist Jacques de Cujas (1520-1590) both at Bourges (before 1567) and at Valence (after 1567). While an officer of the town of Mehun, Ragueau undertook a detailed study of the customary law of the region. It was this work that prompted him to create a dictionary defining the most difficult and obscure words contained in customary law. He also wrote Commentaire sur les coustumes générales du pays et duché de Berry, published posthumously by his son, Paul Raguaeu in 1618, and possibly Traité des lois politiques, n.d. In 1584, Ragueau was named professor and lecturer of law at the University of Bourges.

Ragueau’s lexicon first appeared in folio under the title L'Indice des droits royaux et seigneuriaux, des plus notables dictions, termes et phrases de l'état et de la justice et pratique de France; recueilli des loix, coustumes, ordonnances, arrêts, annales et histoire du royaume de France et d'ailleurs in 1583. Two more editions in quarto followed in 1600 and 1609. A century later, the magistrate Auguste Galland, frustrated by the lacunae in L’Indice, charged Eusèbe de Laurière, a lawyer at Parliament, with the task of recreating and expanding Raguaeu’s original work. Laurière not only increased the number of terms, but also explained the origin and expanded the definitions to the size of short essays. A conscientious editor, he carefully distinguished entries that belonged to the original author, and the few articles that belonged to other learned lawyers. Although now antiquated, the Glossaire is still useful to legal historians.


Joseph Fr. Michaud and Louis Gabriel Michaud. Biographie universelle, ancienne et moderne; ou, Histoire, par ordre alphabétique: de la vie publique et privée de tous les hommes qui se sont fait remarquer par leurs écrits, leurs actions, leurs talents, leurs vertus ou leurs crimes. Paris: Michaud frères, 1846, volume 78, pp. 280-281.

Gaspard Thaumas de La Thaumassière. Histoire de Berry. Bourges: A. Jollet Fils, 1689, p. 1107.