Corps and Clienteles: Public Finance and Political Change in France, 1688-1715

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Ashgate, 2003 - History - 217 pages
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Few historians would deny that Louis XIV's France dominated the political, cultural and military landscape of late 17th-century Europe. Yet the financial foundations on which French hegemony were based remain open to question. Traditionally the regime has been viewed as the archetypal centralizing monarchy in which warfare was the main motor driving reform. Yet more recently research has pointed to a more subtle interpretation in which power was negotiated and interests balanced between the crown and members of the elite. on the intersection between institutions and personal relationships in the financial strategies surrounding Louis XIV's final two wars. It argues that, in appealing to the elite for financial support to wage war, Louis in return stabilized many of the structures on which the elite stood, entrenched elements of privilege throughout the political landscape, and devolved power to provincial institutions. Especially with the participation of privileged corps as financial intermediaries, the politics of war finance in the last 25 years of Louis's reign profoundly influenced the direction in which absolutism developed through the remainder of the Old Regime. development of absolutism; tying the choices available to Louis XIV with the structures and institutions that he inherited from his predecessors, while setting his approach apart. By also measuring the impact of financial negotiations between crown and corps on the later state, it is argued that absolutism under Louis was neither ossified nor in crisis, as the latter half of his reign is often described, but rather dynamic and flexible as it sought to meet the financial costs of warfare.

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