I’m writing a fic about Javert’s early days as a policeman, and I’m trying to construct a timeline around when he was hired. In the brick, there’s a line introducing Javert in Montreuil-sur-Mer:
Javert owed the post which he occupied to the protection of M. Chabouillet, the secretary of the Minister of State, Comte Anglès, then prefect of police at Paris. When Javert arrived at Montreuil-sur-Mer, the fortune of the great manufacturer was already made, and Father Madeleine had become Monsieur Madeleine.
- Les Miserables, Book 5, Chapter 5
was Minister of Police in the provisional government of 1814, which was established during the transitional period after Napoleon’s defeat, so we can safely pin down a date here. Furthermore, Valjean arrives before Javert in Montreuil-sur-Mer in late 1815:
Towards the close of 1815 a man, a stranger, had established himself in the town, and had been inspired with the idea of substituting, in this manufacture, gum-lac for resin, and, for bracelets in particular, slides of sheet-iron simply laid together, for slides of soldered sheet-iron.
- Les Miserables, Book 5, Chapter 1
Thus, it’s safe to say that the “post” referred to in the first passage is NOT the position of inspector in Montreuil-sur-Mer specifically, but Javert’s overall position within the police force. I interpret it as meaning Javert received M. Chabouillet’s patronage in 1814. We also know Javert became an inspector at age 40 (also in Book 5, Chapter 5).
Digging further, in Book 5, Chapter 12, we learn that Fantine is arrested in January 1823. Not long afterward, Javert reports to M. Madeleine in the infamous Punish Me M. le Maire scene:
“Jean Valjean. He was a convict whom I was in the habit of seeing twenty years ago, when I was adjutant-guard of convicts at Toulon.”
- Les Miserables, Book 6, Chapter 2
So working backward, we know Javert was a prison guard in 1803. I’m not sure if that’s when he was hired, but since he’d only be 23 at the time, I’d say it’s a fairly good estimate. Putting all this together, we have the following rough timeline:
1780: Javert is born ~1803 (age 23): Javert becomes a prison guard at Toulon ???: Javert joins the police force 1814 (age 34): Javert receives M. Chabouillet’s patronage 1815: Valjean arrives in Montreuil-sur-Mer 1820 (age 40): Javert is promoted to police inspector ???: Javert arrives in Montreuil-sur-Mer 1823 (age 43): Fantine is arrested ???: Javert is promoted to police inspector first class in Paris 1831:Henri Gisquet becomes prefect of police in Paris 1832 (age 52): Javert commits suicide
I’ll have to change my fic, since I assumed M. Chabouillet secured Javert’s transfer directly from prison guard to policeman, but now it’s more likely that Javert worked as a low-level spy until 1814, when he caught the eye of M. Chabouillet, who helped get him a promotion - probably to Paris, where he underwent instruction as a police inspector. (Current ranks of France’s National Police Force have “lieutenant student” and “lieutenant intern” prior to full lieutenant). Montreuil-sur-Mer was Javert’s first post following the conclusion of his training.