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Saturday, April 16th, 2016 11:41 pm
After extensive Google-fu, I've compiled as much information as I can find on the French police bureaucracy during Les Miserablès and specifically, Javert's mysterious patron, M. Chabouillet. If anyone cares to add to this post, please do; I can't read a word of French, and aside from the almanacs, I haven't dug into any original documents from that time period. Most of my conclusions regarding the police hierarchy are from papers written in the mid-to-late 1800s, which saw great changes in the Paris bureaucracy.


Tracking down Javert's Patron
In the brick, Victor Hugo introduces M. Chabouillet, Javert's patron, who facilitates his career within the police force. When we first meet Javert in Montreuil-sur-mer, he writes (Vol. 1, Book 5, Ch. 5):
Javert owed the post which he occupied to the protection of M. Chabouillet, the secretary of the Minister of State, Comte Anglès, then prefect of police at Paris.

Later, after Valjean escapes to Paris, M. Chabouillet arranges for Javert to move to the capitol as well (Vol. 2, Book 5, Ch. 10):
Javert's zeal and intelligence on that occasion had been remarked by M. Chabouillet, secretary of the Prefecture under Comte Anglès. M. Chabouillet, who had, moreover, already been Javert's patron, had the inspector of M. sur M. attached to the police force of Paris.

With these two pieces of information, I started digging in the Paris almanac archives for any references to a Chabouillet [1]. As it turns out, there exist two men with the surname of Chabouillè, who served within the Prefecture of Police during this time.

 photo 1820_chabouille_02_zpstfgpvfhu.jpg

The first was an Architectes inspecteurs divisionnaires in 1820 [1], which roughly translates to divisional inspector architect. I couldn't find a description of this position around that decade, or any other position for that matter. The best document on the Prefecture's administration is a letter from H.S. Sanford in 1854 [5], so I'll refer to it for the rest of this post even though the bureaus and their responsibilities got shuffled around like musical chairs. On pg. 344, Sanford speaks of a "...commissary of the petite voirie, who has under him four architects of the first class, and six architects of the second class." They were part of the active service in the 2nd bureau, 2nd division, with duties involving the inspection of buildings, quarries, and mines. I don't see this man's jurisdiction overlapping with Javert's position handling criminal cases. Javert would not have written him regarding M. Madeleine, and I doubt he would have the power to send Javert to Montreuil-sur-mer or Paris.

However, the second Chabouillè was the head of the 1st bureau, 1st division in the Prefecture of Police. He held this post over the years 1810 to 1831, which overlap with Comte Anglès's term as well as Javert's career as a policeman. (Some almanacs are missing, so he might have been there longer. He's not listed in the position in 1808 or 1833). This bureau's responsibilities also covered public order and security matters directly related to Javert's investigations: "Pursuit of criminals and delinquents signalized or unknown, and against whom no writs have yet been issued... suicides and accidental deaths... carrying of forbidden arms... supervision of liberated prisoners, convicts, rèclusionnaires, and others..." [6, pg. 338]. As head of this bureau, Chabouillè ranked high up there in terms of power (see the section How Powerful was Chabouillè?), so it makes sense he would be Javert's patron and have the authority to summon Javert to Paris.

Why then does Hugo call Chabouillet the secretary to Anglès? I believe he actually means that Chabouillet performed secretarial duties, not that his position was literally that of a secretary. There is no Chabouillè listed in the almanacs as secretary general or any form of secretary during Anglès's term. However, Napoleon organized the bureaus as an administrative structure to aid the Prefect in carrying out his immense duties [2]. In 1809, when Vidocq entered the government, the 1st division was considered the Administrative Branch [12] since it had no active service component, and Chabouillè would have been tasked with much of the paperwork involved in policing Paris. (Later on, I think the 1st bureau, 1st division had a more direct hand in investigations). So it makes sense for Hugo to refer to him as secretary to the Prefect if we consider all bureau chiefs performed such duties.

Where did Chabouillè Live?
As a nice bonus, I discovered that the almanacs contain the residential addresses of many important people! For example, M. Gisquet, the Prefect of Police in 1833, is listed as residing on Rue de Jerusalem, which is where all Prefects lived during their term. I looked up Chabouillè, and his address in 1825 was the cul-de-sac S.-Claude-Montmartre, 2. In 1827, this changed to S.-Martin, 226, which lies in the aristocratic Marais district, where he remained through his departure as bureau chief in 1833. Interestingly, he was joined at this address by two Madame Chabouillè's: one a libraire and one a papetier with a F. Guyot. Family members, perhaps?

 photo 1827_chabouille_01_zpsyywwbgsy.jpg

You can search these addresses on the Les Miserables map to get a sense of where he lived relative to other characters in the brick.

How Powerful was Chabouillè?
The Police in Montreuil-sur-mer
To understand how much power Chabouillè wielded, we must first take a detour into the labyrinthine structure of the French police organization. France is divided into administrative regions called departments, which are sub-divided into arrondissements, cantons, and finally, communes. Each department has its own prefecture (except Paris, see below) governed by a prefect, who is a representative of the national government, and for those arrondissements that don't contain the prefecture, a sub-prefect carries out the same administrative duties, reporting directly to the prefect. Police responsibilities are divided between the mayor and the prefect. The prefect is responsible for the general safety of the State and his department (police generale), while the mayor is in charge of public safety in his commune (police municipale) and the countryside (police rurale).

Montreuil-sur-mer is a single commune falling inside the jurisdiction of a sub-prefecture. As mayor, Valjean is the authority on municipal police matters, which is why he could overrule Javert in the Fantine case. However, once Javert suspects M. Madeleine is actually Valjean, he can elevate his concerns to the police generale level, since an ex-convict posing as a magistrate threatens the safety of the State! What I find interesting is that Javert sidesteps the proper protocol, which is to go to the sub-prefect or even to the prefect of his region, and instead writes directly to Chabouillet. As head of the 1st bureau, 1st division in the Paris Police Prefecture, Chabouillet would hardly be involved in police matters of a small commune like Montreuil-sur-mer, which doesn't even lie within his department.

Perhaps Javert was afraid that Valjean had already ingratiated himself with the prefect? Working in the capitol, Chabouillet would be in a better position to maneuver politically if he wished to contest decisions of the local administrators and mayor. All prefects are ultimately responsible to the Minister of the Interior, who resides in Paris.

The Police in Paris
In Napoleon's time, Paris was unusual in that it had no elected mayor: it was "...a single commune, divided into twelve arrondissements, each with its own mayor... The real rulers of the city were the Prefect of the Seine, who had his office at the Hôtel de Ville, and the Prefect of Police, whose headquarters was on rue Jerusalem and the quai des Orfèvres on the Île de la Cité." [10]. The Prefect of Police not only held municipal police powers, but was also in charge of maintaining the security of the State (preventing plots, espionage, etc) and the safety of the department (public health, morality, etc) [9]. His reach extended across Paris and its three surrounding departments, the Petite Couronne. With so many duties, it was natural for the Prefect to delegate.

He has a second in command, the Secretary General, and two councils: the Council of the Prefecture dealt with litigation, while the General Council for the Department handled financial problems (and only convened once a year). However, the true day-to-day management happens in the bureaus, where we find Chabouillè. He was the head of the 1st bureau, one of three under the 1st division, which is governed by a superintendent. The superintendent would likely report to either the Secretary General or the Prefect of Police himself; I am uncertain what the hierarchy looked like in Hugo's time, as my closest reference is a paper from 1954 [9]. Nevertheless, given how compartmentalized the Prefecture was, Chabouillè would be the expert on his segment of police work.

Where did Javert figure in the ranks compared to his patron? Well, some bureaus had sub-sections, each headed by an inspector general, but I don't think this was the case for the 1st bureau, 1st division (at least it isn't mentioned in Sanford's letter). Beneath the inspector generals were the commissioners. Paris at the time was divided into 12 arrondissements, each further sub-divided into quartiers for a total of 48 across the city. A quartier was overseen by a commissaire de police, who "...superintends its cleanliness and lighting; takes cognizance of misdemeanors; makes the first examination of crimes and offenses... The commissaries are in constant communication with the people, and attend to the complaints they may have to make. Their residence is known at night by a square lantern of coloured glass hung at the door." [6] In the early 1800's, commissioners were generally educated men with prior experience in the military or a literate occupation, such as a clerk, secretary, or tax employee. It was extremely rare for a junior police officer to be promoted to the position [11, pgs. 38-41]. Thus, at best, Javert was one rank below the commissioner, serving as a chief inspector in a quartier. This is probably as high as someone of his background could climb in the career ladder... which makes it all the more interesting that he enjoyed the patronage of a man like Chabouillet.



Miscellaneous
Prefect's Uniform: "...this took the form of a blue coat embroidered with silver at the collar, at the cuffs and at the pockets, under which there was a white vest. The trousers were also white. A red scarf with silver fringes and a hat also embroidered in silver completed the outfit." [2]

Prefect's Salary: The salary of the Prefect of Police in Paris was 50,000 francs. For comparison, a principal inspector was paid 7,166 francs, and a rank-and-file inspector earned 1,500 francs [6, pgs. 154-155] [7].

Prefect's Secretary: In addition to the Secretary General, which was a powerful political position in its own right, the Prefect of Police often employed a secretaire intime du Préfet, which literally translates to "intimate secretary of the Prefect." Of all the almanacs I studied from 1807 to 1833, the only Prefect who had multiple individuals in this capacity was M. Gisquet: M. Nay was the secretaire intime, chef, and M. Nabon de Veaux was the sous-chef [1]. Take that as you will in your head-canons.

 photo 1833_prefecture_de_police_01_zpssmowucxn.jpg

Office of the Sûreté: "At the time of Vidocq's ingress to government service, 1809, the police force, or Prefecture, in Paris was comprised of two divisions: the First Division, or the Administrative Branch, and the Second Division, or Special Investigative Branch. The latter, managed by Monsieur Henry, was the unit to which Vidocq belonged; it concerned itself with the overall battling of crime." [9]

Drownings and Accidental Deaths: "La Morgue, Marche Neuf - This is a place in which are deposited for three days the bodies of unknown persons who are drowned, or meet with accidental death. They are laid upon inclined slabs, open to the inspection of the public, in order that they may be recognized by those interested in their fate. Their clothes are hung up near them, as an additional means of recognition. If not claimed, they are buried at the public expense." [6] This is where Javert's body would have been taken. Since the 1st bureau, 1st division handled suicides and accidental deaths, it is likely Chabouillet learned of his protegé from a report on his desk...



Anonymous Contributions
Thank you to the anons who sent me additional information on Chabouillé and his associates! Here, I record our discussions for posterity. Please leave a comment if you wish to be credited.

Chabouillé's Family: From this thread, we learn the location of his grave and
His full name is André-Joseph Chabouillé. He was born in 1774 and died in 1865, so unlike all the poor fictional characters in the book he got to live a nice long life. His first wife Éléonore Rebecca Webster died in 1818, but he got remarried to Marie Sophie Pagnest (born 1778), who left a relatively rich historical record because she sold books and France had weird licensing laws for booksellers.

Chabouillé seems to come from a well-established bourgeois Parisian family: he's got a son or nephew who's a teacher at the Lycée Condorcet and there are a lot of Chabouillé architects running around, including his father [Médéric-Joseph Chabouillé] who was elected to the Assembly in 1790 and narrowly escaped arrest during the Terror. Earlier generations were lawyers in the Parlement of Paris.

Chabouillé's Business: Since 1823, Chabouillé owned an establishment of Public Baths at rue Vauxhall. In 1833, a Mademoiselle Chabouillé was the owner. Rue Vauxhall was about 30 minutes away from the Préfecture. [anon]

Gisquet's Injury: In fall 1828, Gisquet's gun went off by accident while he was hunting, shattering his left wrist beyond repair. Gisquet didn’t want to worry his family, so he didn’t tell anyone or ask for a doctor. He dressed the wound himself in the woods, traveled the twenty miles back to Paris, found a surgeon, had his left arm amputated (likely just above the wrist or mid-forearm), and then went home and told his wife, “All the danger is past and now I can economize on gloves.” Unfortunately, this ended his aspirations to a military career. [anon]

Gisquet's Private Secretaries: M. Jules Ernest Nay was Gisquet's secretaire intime, chef while the latter served as Prefect. He went by "Ernest" and later married Gisquet's daughter, Naomi/Caroline Henriette Gisquet. M. Jules Nabon de Veaux (his surname is often written "Nabon Devaux") was Gisquet's secretaire intime, sous-chef, who appears in Gisquet's court transcripts [13]. In 1837, a man with that surname is listed as chief of the Cabinet particulier, a bureau for the Prefect's personal secretaries. He resided at the address 52, rue des Petites-Ecuries in 1848. [anon]



References
[1] Almanach du commerce de Paris, archives (You can search some of the almanacs, but the function is quite poor and misses many matches. Your best bet is to download the pdf, check the index, and manually comb the relevant pages. For some reason, the Prefecture de Police pages are missing from the 1820 pdf in the archives, but you can find them on Google Books).

[2] Williams, Robert D. Napoleon's Administrative Army - His Prefects. Member's Bulletin: Napoleonic Society of America. Issue 72. (Summer/Fall 2002): pp. 15-20.

[3] Napoleon's Law for Reorganizing the Administrative System (Febuary 17, 1800)

[4] Letters on France and England. The American Review of History and Politics, Vol. 3. (1812).

[5] H.S. Sanford's Report on Administrative Changes in France since 1848

[6] Galignani's New Paris Guide for 1859

[7] The Cabinet of the Prefect (September 1, 1862)

[8] Payne, Howard C. An Early Concept of the Modern Police State in 19th Century France. 43 J. Crim. L. Criminology & Police Sci. 377. (1952-1953)

[9] Chapman, Brian. The Prefecture of Police. 44 J. Crim. L. Criminology & Police Sci. 505. (1953-1954)

[10] Paris under Napoleon: The Administration of the City (Wiki)

[11] Merriman, John. Police Stories: Building the French State, 1815-1851. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. (I have uploaded the full pdf here for your perusal)

[12] Vidocq and the Office of the Surete

[13] Henri Gisquet's Court Transcripts from Corruption Indictment

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