- "The good folk of Paris give more money to crippled beggars than whole ones. Le Roi des Thunes sees in that bit of trivia an opportunity to motivate his less-successful employees."
- ―The Marquis de Sade on le Roi des Thunes' rule, 1791.[src]
La Cour des Miracles (English: Court of Miracles) was one of the poorest, most dangerous slums in Paris during the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Court's ironic title refers to the many beggars who faked terrible injuries and diseases to elicit donations, only to be miraculously "cured" when it was time to go home. The area's inhabitants lived in a counter-society under a Roi des Thunes, or King of Beggars, to whom they paid tribute, a percentage of what the beggars had earned from kind-hearted citizens.
During the reign of King Louis XIV, the Court's population noticeably increased; by 1777, over one million people were declared beggars by the state. Yet, during the French Revolution, the amount of beggars began to decline.
At the time, the Roi des Thunes was a minor nobleman who joined the Templar Order after assisting in its takeover by François-Thomas Germain. Much of the Court's income was subsequently used to the benefit of the Roi des Thunes' new allies, and if the beggars' tributes were deemed unsatisfactory, they were disfigured to arouse more sympathy.
In January 1791, he was killed by the Assassin Arno Dorian. Following this, the Court fell under the control of the Marquis de Sade, who provided occasional assistance to the Assassins when required. After the Revolution, the slums were demolished by the police force, bringing an end to the Court of Miracles.
- French novelist Victor Hugo references a Cour des Miracles in both Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
- In reality, accounts of the Cour des Miracles having a counter-society are believed to have been little more than literary fantasy.