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Significations et interprétations de l'article 16 de la Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen de 1789 : contribution à l'histoire de la notion de constitution

Abstract : Article 16 of the Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 provides that "Every society in which warranty of rights is not assured, nor separation of powers determined, has no constitution.” This research aims to recover the historical meaning of this text, in order to compare it with its contemporary interprétations given by constitutional scholars and by the Constitutional Council. Firstly, relying on linguistic history’s methods, it demonstrates that this statute originates from the mutations of the conceptions of political powerand the invention of the notion of constitution in the 17th and 18th centuries. This notion, and particularly that of constitution of the society, are créations of natural law theorists and contractualist philosophers. Afterwards,they are taken up and adapted to the French context for the purpose of using them as a political weapon,which leads to the emergence of three constitutionalisms: parliamentary, patriot and royalist. Secondly, the study focusses on the adoption of article 16, which represents the recognition of the patriot conception of the constitution.This provision is the symbol of the patriots’ victory over the conservatives and the royalists in 1789. lt is also the legal recognition of their vision of the constitution. Thirdly, the research shows the mythical aspect of the meanings attributed to article 16 in the 20th and 21st centuries and it analyses the process of mythification of article 16, as an element of political theory as well as a constitutional norm.
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Margaux Bouaziz. Significations et interprétations de l'article 16 de la Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen de 1789 : contribution à l'histoire de la notion de constitution. Droit. Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019PA01D072⟩. ⟨tel-02521720⟩

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