Skip to product information
1 of 4

La police des Noirs, 1777.

Regular price
€1.900,00 EUR
Regular price
Sale price
€1.900,00 EUR

A monument of Western institutional racism


France: Louis XVI (1774-1792).

Déclaration du Roi, pour la police des Noirs. Donnée à Versailles le neuf août 1777. Registrée en Parlement le 27 août 1777.

Paris, chez P. G. Simon, imprimeur du Parlement, rue Mignon Saint André-des-Arcs, 1777.


4°. 8 p. With a woodcut royal vignette on title page, a headpiece and an initial.



First edition of the introduction of the Police des Noirs: a radical toughening of the regulation of non-white people in France, significantly impacting their legal status. The edition we offer here is slightly different compared to the copy held at JCB (1-SIZE EB .W&A 1885), all text being the same but set different, especially on the title page.

The Police des Noirs explicitly prohibited "all blacks, mulattoes, or other people of colour, regardless of gender, from entering the kingdom under any circumstances or pretexts." According to the law, if a colonist arrived in France accompanied by an enslaved individual intended for domestic service (referred to as a "house slave"), the latter would be temporarily detained upon arrival at the port before being deported back to the colonies. This led to the establishment of "depots" at major ports to detain "blacks, mulattoes, or other people of colour" until their deportation could be arranged.

Article IV of the law provided for a single exception: "Nevertheless, we permit any resident of our colonies who wishes to travel through France to bring along a single black or mulatto, of either gender, to serve during the journey, with the obligation to deliver them upon arrival at the port to the designated depot as per our instructions, where they must remain until they can be deported." However, this exception was conditional upon the payment of 1000 French livres, as stipulated in Article V.

Condition: in very good condition. A small contemporary ink inscription in top corner of title and a three line ink inscription at the end of the final page, reading:

               Lu cet Publié a l[’]audiance ordinaire de la Senechaussee [sénéchaussée] de La Rochelle Extraordinairement Tenue le vingt septembre mil sept cent soixante & sept [1767]. Regnault.

Regnault was a prominent family in La Rochelle, the gateway to the West Indies.

Literature: Sue Peabody, “Race, Slavery, and the Law in Early Modern France.” In: The Historian, vol. 56, no. 3, 1994, pp. 501–510.


Contact us to make reservation