Reading Police Records for Amusement



“…when that libertine Sartine followed the citizens of Paris practically into their bedroom to learn the shameful secrets of the night, he did it to amuse his king, the king even more libertine than his chief of police. Sartine was doing this to provide his master with examples and excuses, as if that one needed any.” Pierre Louis Manuel refers here to Antoine de Sartine, Lieutenant General of Police and his famous Journal of the Police Inspectors, out of which the latter provided excerpts for the amusement of the king. The surviving part of the Journal, 1761-1764, is very factual; for example, on 2 December an entry states laconically:  rue de Perl, a ninety-year-old woman gave birth; or on 28 April M. Anjoran had contracted an STD from his wife. Louis XV did use some of that information; for example, when Bishop Tarbes, whose carriage got into an accident somewhere between Versailles and Paris, had given a ride to his victim, Madame Gourdan, a famous Parisian prostitute; the king did not miss an opportunity to make a remark that not every charity is worth doing and furthermore it is even doubtful that some of them will count as such.

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