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

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The financial humbling of a great power in any age requires explanation. In the War of the Spanish Succession Louis XIV was forced into fighting way beyond his borders, and the costs of war rose to unprecedented heights. At the same time royal income was in decline as economic activity slowed down, and this widening gap between revenue and expenditure led the government into a series of ill-advised monetary expedients which forced the price of loans for the war effort ever higher. The monarchy also became more dependent upon entrepreneurs and bankers for ever larger doses of credit. These difficult circumstances became fertile ground for those contractors and bankers who supplied money for the French armies, who could name their price. In some cases they even managed to penetrate the corridors of the ministries either as heads of royal agencies or even as junior ministers. The exacerbation of an existing problem of controlling royal contractors, and the moral hazard generated by bail-outs of people deemed too essential to fail, added up to nothing less than an early military-industrial complex that further lessened the chances of France continuing as the superpower of the age.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages285
ISBN (Print)978-0-19-958507-6
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2012


  • France – Financial Decline – Financial Instruments – Entrepreneurs – Bankers – War – Military-Industrial Complex


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