Louis XIV., 1661-1715
the Economy
Louis XVI., 1774-1789
the Economy
Louis XV., 1715-1774
Domestic Policy
France 1715-1774
Intellectual Life

France under Louis XV. : the Economy

In 1715, Louis XV. ascended to the throne - at the age of five. Louis XIV. left behind a legacy of massive state debt; the country was practically bankrupt. JOHN LAW, a Scottish entrepreneur addicted to gambling, convinced the regent, Duke Philippe of Orleans, to introduce the BANQUE GENERALE which issued paper money; in 1717 he created the COMPAGNIE D'OCCIDENT (monopoly over Louisiane) raising money on vague hopes that Louisiane would pay off high profits (in form of mineral deposits to be exploited, a plantation economy to be developed). In 1718 he united France's various colonial companies under the COMPAGNIE DES INDES. Law's system based on speculation failed in December 1720; the bank was closed down.
CARDINAL FLEURY, prime minister between 1723 and 1743, restored the kingdom's finances by putting the country on a diet, i.e. pursuing a policy of austerity.
On the occasion of Fleury's death in 1743, King LOUIS XV. declared his intention to rule the country personally. In 1745 MADAME POMPADOUR was installed as his official mistress. The royal household at Versailles and at other royal chateaux was extremely costly. The wars of the later part of Louis XV.'s reign (WAR OF AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION, 1741-1748; SEVEN YEARS WAR 1756-1763, WAR OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE 1776-1783) added to that burden, which was too much for the country to bare. Louis XV. was told of the bleak future, but said Apres moi, le deluge (After me, the flood). The policy was financed with credits and additional taxation; demands by the (regional) parlements for lessening the burden and financial reform were responded to by the dismissal of these institutions (1771) under unpopular chancellor RENE NICOLAS DE MAUPEAU (1768-1774).

In 1720, French-born Huguenot ISAAC GERVAISE published his The System or Theory of the Trade of the World in London. In 1757, notorious Venetian GIACOMO GIROLAMO CASANOVA, escaped from a Venetian prison, arrived in France where he established a STATE LOTTERY; Casanova soon was expelled for embezzlement, the lottery was to provide a continuous source of income for the French royal treasury.

John Law, from Personalities in Louisiana's History
Biography of R.N. de Maupeau, from infoplease
DOCUMENTS Les Monnaies de 1515 a 1789 : Louis XV., 1715-1774, from AssociationFrancaise de Genealogie, in French
France - Monnaie de Louis XIII. a Louis XVI., from Numismatique - Monnaie scroll down for Louis XV., in French
The System or Theory of the Trade of the World by Isaac Gervaise 1720, from Avalon Project
Les dessins a la sanguine des medailles du regne de Louis XV attribues a Edme Bouchardon, posted by Archives Monetaires, French language site posting images of medals minted under Louis XV.

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on January 6th 2002, last revised on August 21st 2002

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