During France’s feudal period, Lords had absolute power over their fiefdoms. Well almost absolute. There are rare instances where limits were imposed.
King Louis XV was faced with a dilemma when it became clear that the salacious Count Charolais – the Caligula of his day – had shot one of his serfs who was repairing tile on the roof of his castle for the pure fun of watching him fall to his death.
The case drew the attention of the entire nation. Fairness and royal purgatives were in conflict.
After extended deliberations, Louis XV called Count Charolais before him and administered this ruling. “I, King Louis XV of France, do hereby pardon you for the killing your servant. But understand me well. I will likewise pardon anyone who shoots you.”