In the revolution of 1789, France set out to replace its absolute monarchy with a government based on a separation of legislative, judicial, and executive powers. In Geometries of Power: Royal, Revolutionary, and Postrevolutionary French Courtrooms, Katherine Fischer Taylor asks how the goal of separating powers affected the reform of French justice through its physical housing. Providing the first overview of French courtroom layout, Taylor identifies four geometric configurations that characterize in turn the late ancien régime, the revolutionary decade, and the Napoleonic era and beyond. While taking account of changes in the conduct of trials, the analysis emphasizes instead how the courtroom’s spatial arrangement expresses the political source and status of justice. The...

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