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Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Accounting, and the Genesis of the State Archive in Early Modern France

Jacob Soll

in Archives and Information in the Early Modern World

Published by British Academy

Published in print April 2018 | ISBN: 9780197266250
Published online September 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780191869181 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197266250.003.0004

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Accounting, and the Genesis of the State Archive in Early Modern France

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This study shows how, between 1661 and 1683, the culture of double-entry, mercantile accounting was central to Jean-Baptiste Colbert’s massive project of royal archive building in ancient régime France. Scholars have tended to see state archives as the products of learned and legal culture. The case of Colbert demonstrates that mercantile culture and commerce also made an essential contribution to archival development in the early modern period, as well as laying the foundation for state sponsored learning, science, industry, art, building, and administration. It illustrates how economic interest and financial management drove archive formation and organisation in the early modern era, correcting the dominant emphasis on techniques derived from scholarship.

Keywords: archives; libraries; accounting; Jean-Baptiste Colbert; Louis XIV; note-taking; information management or technology; political culture; government; France; Royal archives; State formation

Chapter.  7265 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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