This comparative project, which examines French, English, Dutch and German texts, aims to trace the historical development of the cause célèbre, i.e. a historical-literary tradition which compiled the most remarkable legal cases and crime stories of the recent past and made them available to a broad middle-class readership. Following the successful publication of the first installment of François Gayot de Pitaval’s twenty-five volume Causes célèbres et intéressantes in 1734, the cause célèbre became an immensely popular genre throughout Europe during the second half of the eighteenth and the nineteenth century. The project aims to demonstrate how throughout its history the cause célèbre drew upon various scientific and philosophical discourses of the period (i.e. history, jurisprudence, Seelenlehre, moral philosophy) and helped to popularize them.