lettre de cachet


let·tre de ca·chet

noun \ˈle-trə-də-ˌka-ˈshā\
plural lettres de cachet \-trə(z)-\

Definition of LETTRE DE CACHET

:  a letter bearing an official seal and usually authorizing imprisonment without trial of a named person

Origin of LETTRE DE CACHET

French, literally, letter with a seal
First Known Use: 1718

lettre de cachet

noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

(French: “letter with a seal”) Letter bearing an official seal, signed by the king and countersigned by a secretary of state, used primarily to authorize someone's imprisonment without trial. An important instrument of administration under the ancien régime in France, lettres de cachet were greatly abused in the 17th–18th century. Their use was abolished in 1790.

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