Henri IV.
the Economy
Louis XIV.
The Economy

The French Economy under Louis XIII. and in the early years of Louis XIV.'s reign

The ESTATES GENERAL met for the last time in 1614/15, not to convene until 1789. The French administration, influenced by CARDINAL RICHELIEU since 1616, long before his appointment as prime minister in 1624, had to come up with a solution to the problem of financing a military policy which required an ever-increasing French army.
This was achieved by raising taxation, by devaluating the French currency (minting underweight coins and reducing the silver content), by considerably increasing the number of state offices (which were sold off). In wartime the army to a large degree would live off the occupied land.
The siege of La Rochelle (1627-1628), political measures directed against protestantism were not helping to improve the economic condition of the country. Between 1635 and 1659 France was constantly at war; subsidies paid by France to the enemies of the Habsburg cause in the 30 YEARS WAR proved an additional burden to the French state coffers.
Cardinal Richelieu's successor as prime minister, CARDINAL MAZARIN, in 1648 announced that the state treasure was empty and that government officials would not be paid for four years to come. This announcement triggered the revolt called the FRONDE; Mazarin, while retaining his office as prime minister, had to flee the city, which between 1648 and 1652 was in the hands of the Fronde.

In 1653, NICOLAS FOUQUET was appointed SUPERINTENDENT OF FINANCES; he instituted a number of reforms to improve state revenue by strengthening the French economy. A victim of the intrigues of JEAN-BAPTISTE COLBERT in 1661, the success of Fouquet's policy partly is credited to Colbert. To a considerable part, he financed royal policy by taking up loans; public debt had reached 60 million livres at the time of his dismissal in 1661.

Biography of Nicolas Fouquet, by N. Kipar
DOCUMENTS Coins minted under Louis XIII. and Louis XIV., from Numismatique - Monnaie

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 9th 2004

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