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Overture to RevolutionThe 1787 Assembly of Notables and the Crisis of France's Old Regime$
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John Hardman

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199585779

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199585779.001.0001

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Introduction: The State of France in 1786

Introduction: The State of France in 1786

Illusion and Reality

(p.1) Introduction: The State of France in 1786
Overture to Revolution

John Hardman

Oxford University Press

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

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