Chapter

Introduction: The State of France in 1786

John Hardman

in Overture to Revolution

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199585779
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595325 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199585779.003.0001
Introduction: The State of France in 1786

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The Introduction analyses the component parts of old regime France in 1786, the last year it functioned normally with the double aim of showing how it worked and why it was beginning to break down; and therefore how it was possible for the finance minister, Calonne, to persuade the king to embark on the risky venture of consulting the nation. Many of the processes of government were secret and this enabled the regime to sustain an illusion of success but in fact since the end of the American war (1783) government insiders had been discussing radical reforms with a view to implementation in 1787, the year a key tax expired. The late war had exposed structural weaknesses in the system and with the international situation remaining dangerous it was questioned whether France could fight another one without reform.

Keywords: government; finance; Calonne; king; illusion; war; secrecy

Chapter.  8168 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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