Jean Baptiste Colbert

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The cost of building Versailles and other palaces, maintaining his court, and pursuing his wars made finances a crucial issue for Louis XIV. He was fortunate in having Jean Baptiste Colbert as controller general of finances. Colbert sought to increase the wealth and power of France through general adherence to mercantilism, which stressed government regulation of economic activities to benefit the state. To decrease the need for imports and and increase exports, Colbert founded new luxury industries, such as the royal tapestry works at Beauvais; invited Venetian glass makers and Flemish cloth makers to France; drew up instructions regulating the quality of goods produced; oversaw the training of workers; and granted special privileges, including tax exemptions, loans, and subsidies, to individuals who established new industries. To improve communications and the transportation of goods internally, he built roads and canals. To decrease imports directly, Colbert raised tariffs on foreign manufactured goods directly. Colbert raised tariffs on foreign manufactured goods and created a merchant marine to carry French goods. The French Revolution was caused as the French were going broke which made the peasants lose more money which made the government change and brought violence.

The immediate cause of the French Revolution was the near collapse of government finances. France experienced a depression from 1778 to 1787 as a result of a loss of overseas markets and overproduction. Prices of grain and wine fell by forty and fifty percent. Peasants faced increasing uncertainty as rent prices remained high due to a rapidly growing population. Poor harvests in 1788 and 1789 sent prices of wheat and rye soaring leaving many desperate. At a time when France was experiencing economic crises, the government was drastically short of money. Yet French governmental expenditures continued to grow due to costly wars and royal extravagance. The government responded by borrowing. Poor taxation policy contributed to the high debt, with most of the monarchy’s funds coming from the peasantry. Unlike Britain, where the Bank of England financed the borrowing of money at low interest rates, France had no central bank and instead relied of private loans.

Since France was in such a financial crisis and didn’t have any money they turned to the peasants. They forced the peasants to pay them money so that they can have money to use because they didn’t have a central bank to rely on. The peasants were getting so tired of paying so much money to France they went on rebellions. From July 19 to August 3, peasant rebellions occurred in 5 major areas of France. In some placed peasants simple forced their lay and ecclesiastical lords to renounce dues and tithes; elsewhere they burned charters listing their obligations. France changed the government because of all the rebellions that were occuring. They changed it by abolishing tithes, quitrents and dues. The King agreed but he said that the peasants had to support the public authorities by going themselves to demand the destruction of titles.

The most famous of the urban risings was the fall of the Bastille. The king’s attempt to take defensive measures by increasing the number of troops at the arsenals in Paris and along the roads to Versailles served not to intimidate but rather to inflame public opinion. Increased mob activity in Paris led Parisian leaders to form the so called Permanent Committee to keep order. Needing arms, they organized a popular force to capture the Invalides, a royal armory, and on July 14 attacked the Bastille, another royal armory. The Bastille had also been a state prison but now held only seven prisoners. There were few weapons there except those in the hands of the small group of defenders. The Bastille was an imposing fortress with eight towers connected by nine foot thick walls. It was easily defended, but its commander, the marquis de Launay, was more inclined to negotiate. Although fighting erupted, de Launay refused to open fire with his cannon, and the garrison soon surrendered. The fall of the Bastille was a great victory, and it quickly became a popular symbol of triumph over despotism.

The French Revolution was caused as the French were going bankrupt which made the peasants start to go bankrupt as well which changed the government and brought a lot of violence. Today we still do see some riots because people do not agree with some of the stuff that is going on in the world today like the president for example. If he does something there is usually a group of people who don’t agree with it and they start a riot. We also do see bankruptcy and debt today for example people say that Obama brought America into a huge dept.

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Jean Baptiste Colbert. (2019, Jun 26). Retrieved July 19, 2024 , from

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