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By Anne Judge (auth.)
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Finally the papal Schism of 1378 weakened the position of the Church, and therefore of Latin. Also the Church itself had already contributed to the spread of the vernaculars: the Council of Tours had decreed in 813 that sermons, aimed at a local audience, should be in the vernacular whereas mass was to remain in Latin, because of its universal appeal. The distinction between local and general audiences was carried through into other fields. Thus a tendency developed according to which ‘national law’ was in Latin (Charles V’s Ordinance of 1376 proclaiming the majority of kings at fourteen) whereas local customs and regulations were in French, or more rarely, in the local vernacular.
The three main law suits of Louis XII (1462–1515) are interesting in this respect: his divorce from Jeanne de France was in Latin, since divorce came under canon law; but when Anne de France tried to establish the validity of her marriage, the case starts in Latin, continues in French and reverts to Latin, often mixing the two; and in his trial for lèse-majesté against Pierre de Rohan the case was pleaded in French in front of the Grand Conseil, then referred to the Parlement de Toulouse where most of the case was in French, but the first two pages of the reprise de l’instruction (resumption of the indictment) were in Latin.
This is not always possible, which is why the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages has not been ratified by France (see Chapter 5). The Rise of French as an Official National Language 33 Concluding comments Revival of the RLs demands first of all their legal recognition. This means, in practice, either changing the Constitution so as to include the RLs, or being willing to interpret the wording of article 2 differently. This could easily be done since stating that ‘French is the language of the Republic’ need not necessarily mean that it is the only one.
Linguistic Policies and the Survival of Regional Languages in France and Britain by Anne Judge (auth.)