Chapter

The King, His Ministers, and the Direction of Financial Policy

Guy Rowlands

in The Financial Decline of a Great Power

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199585076
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744600 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199585076.003.0003
The King, His Ministers, and the Direction of Financial Policy

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This chapter looks at the men at the top of the French central government who managed the royal finances that in turn supported the royal armies. Louis XIV himself exercised a general oversight but delegated most of the work managing finance to his Finance Minister, the contrôleur général des finances, who worked in conjunction with, but could not dominate, the big spending ministries. Unfortunately Louis was not always wise or lucky in his choice of ministers after the 1680s, and Michel Chamillart in particular was out of his depth, in part because for seven demanding years he simultaneously held the posts of Finance and War Minister, causing chaos. His successor as contrôleur général, Nicolas Desmaretz, was far more suited for the office and understood market psychology better, but he and second-tier officials in the central financial administration throughout the period 1700–1715 were also too often less than competent.

Keywords: finance ministry; Michel Chamillart; Nicolas Desmaretz; officials; policy direction

Chapter.  11015 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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