Louis XVI and a new monarchy : an institutional and political study of France l768-l778
This is a political and institutional study of a decade of political activity in the old régime 1768- 1778. It assesses its strengths, weaknesses, and reforming potential, and seeks to establish it as a viable and credible political culture. The study moves from a description of the regime in actuality, through various of its institutions, and on to an interpretation of Necker's reforming vision in 1778. The political dimension is provided by an analysis of politics over the decade using much new material, and by describing the political experience of one individual. I. defines the regime's geopolitical differentiation, administrative-cum-legal structures, social composition, and areas of stress and potential change. It identifies the robe as the dominant force in society, and devolution as the main pressure for reform. II. examines theorists of the monarchy, especially Louis XVI's tutors, and thence his practice of kingship to show that he believed he was following a blue-print for success. III. shows that Maupeou's reforms were not a firm base for wider reform and restructuring, but that the exiled magistrates had developed a coherent ideology of institutional conservatism which operated in opposition to a reforming monarchy. IV. the States - whether lapsed, hypothetical, or extant - were the most viable alternative administrative structure to the decaying 'Administrative/ Absolute Monarchy' based on the Councils and Intendants. V. samples the mass of alternative thinking about the regime, and describes the major reform schemes. 'VI. Necker hoped to become the dominant minister of the century by drawing all the political themes of the period and breaking the power of the robe. Appendix I. analyses ten years of ministerial instablity interpreting the background to the institutional developments. II. shows Linguet's career exposing most aspects of the regime and challenging many of its basic assumptions.