Lettre de Cachet

(French). An arbitrary warrant of imprisonment; a letter folded and sealed with the king's cachet or little seal. These were secret instructions to the person addressed to proceed against someone named in the letter. The lieutenant-general of police kept an unlimited number of these instruments, and anyone, for a consideration, could obtain one, either to conceal a criminal or to incarcerate someone obnoxious. This power was abolished in the Revolution.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

More on Lettre de Cachet from Fact Monster:

Related Content