The Financial Decline of a Great Power: War, Influence, and Money in Louis XIVs France

Hardcover | November 25, 2012

byGuy Rowlands

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The financial humbling of a great power in any age demands explanation. In the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14) Louis XIV's France had to fight way beyond its borders and the costs of war rose to unprecedented heights. With royal income falling as economic activity slowed down, thewidening gap between revenue and expenditure led the government into a series of desperate expedients. Ever-larger quantities of credit, often obtained through fairly novel and poorly-understood financial instruments, were combined with ill-advised monetary manipulations. Moreover, through poor ministerial management the system of earmarking revenues for spending descended into chaos. All this forced up the cost of loans, foreign exchange, and military logistics as government contractors and bankers built the mounting risks into the price of their contracts andsought to profit from the situation. There was already a problem with controlling royal contractors, who ran the entire financial machinery, but this only grew worse, not least because the government further indemnified and bailed out men deemed too essential to fail. In some cases entrepreneurseven managed to penetrate the corridors of the ministries, either as heads of royal agencies or even as junior ministers. This added up to nothing less than an early military-industrial complex. As state debt climbed to astronomical levels and financial instruments collapsed in value France's chances of remaining the superpower of the age shrank. The military decline of a great power often goes hand-in-hand with itsfinancial decline, but rarely so dramatically as in early eighteenth-century France.

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The financial humbling of a great power in any age demands explanation. In the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14) Louis XIV's France had to fight way beyond its borders and the costs of war rose to unprecedented heights. With royal income falling as economic activity slowed down, thewidening gap between revenue and expenditure led...

Guy Rowlands is Director of the Centre for French History and Culture and a Lecturer in the School of History at the University of St Andrews. He is the author of The Dynastic State and the Army under Louis XIV. Royal Service and Private Interest, 1661-1701 (2002), shich was co-winner of the Royal Historical Society's Gladstone Prize (...

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Hardcover|Nov 14 2014

$155.96 online$156.00list price
Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pagesPublished:November 25, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199585075

ISBN - 13:9780199585076

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Table of Contents

General IntroductionPart I: The strategic management of war and the financial chain of commandIntroduction1. Geostrategy, international politics, and the burden of war, 1688-17142. The king, his ministers, and the direction of financial policyPART II: Raising money, finding money, making money: sourcing revenue in an age of crisisIntroduction3. Taxing to the hilt? Structural weakness and falling revenues4. Borrowing to the limit5. Manipulating the coinage6. Paper money and absolute monarchyPART III: The degeneration of military funding and the rising costs of warIntroduction7. The treasury of the Extraordinaire des Guerres in the era of the Spanish Succession8. The crisis of spending and appropriations in Louis XIV's personal rule9. The overdraft of war: short-term debt and military finance10. Rent-seeking in the military paymaster worldConclusionSelect Bibliography