The book is a study of the police and criminal justice in eighteenth-century France, and of the crimes and disorders the authorities had to contain. It is concerned with two provinces - the Auvergne, in the mountaius centre, and the Guyenne, the hinterland of Bordeaux and is based on extensive archival research in administrative records, police reports and the transcripts of trials. Part one examines the means of repression available to the government: the national police force, the marechaussee, and the police court of summary justice, the prevote. It looks at the recruitment and discipline of policemen, their duties, methods of operating and efficiency; it also examines the treatment of beggars and vagabonds, the procedures of criminal justice, the evidence put before the judges and the punishments handed down. Part two studies the thefts, assaults, murders, riots and rebellions of the two provinces, particularly in the light of fashionable hypotheses about changing patterns of criminal behaviour.