Economic Development in Early Modern France: The Privilege of Liberty, 1650-1820 (Cambridge Studies in Economic History - Second Series)
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Privilege has long been understood as the constitutional basis of Ancien Régime France, legalising the provision of a variety of rights, powers and exemptions to some, whilst denying them to others. In this fascinating new study however, Jeff Horn reveals that Bourbon officials utilized privilege as an instrument of economic development, freeing some sectors of the economy from pre-existing privileges and regulations, while protecting others. He explores both government policies and the innovations of entrepreneurs, workers, inventors and customers to uncover the lived experience of economic development from the Fronde to the Restoration. He shows how, influenced by Enlightenment thought, the regime increasingly resorted to concepts of liberty to defend privilege as a policy tool. The book offers important new insights into debates about the impact of privilege on early industrialisation, comparative economic development and the outbreak of the French Revolution.
and Robert Ekelund, Mercantilism as a Rent Seeking Society (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982), Hilton L. Root, The Fountain of Privilege: Political Foundations of Markets in Old Regime France and England (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), and Douglass C. North, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (Cambridge University Press, 1990). Robert Forster, “The Noble as Landlord in the Region of Toulouse at the End of the Old Regime,” Journal of
privilege they could acquire, claim, or invent. This combination of attributes enabled Normandy to become and to remain early modern France’s most industrialized province, a veritable Lancashire on the Seine. No province was better integrated into Bourbon state structures than Normandy. Organized into three generalities – Rouen, Caen, and Alençon – overseen by intendants who deployed a flock of subdelegates, Normandy was administered both more thoroughly and more effectively than any other
général sur les bureaux de visite et de marque établis dans la ville et généralité de Rouen, December 15, 1787, AN F12 1365, Sentiment des députés au Conseil de Commerce, March 3, 1717, AN F12 694, Arrêt du Conseil d’État du Roi, September 27, 1740, AN AE BIII284, and Avis des Députés au Conseil de Commerce sur la requette des maitres fabricants de draps de la ville de Louviers, July 26, 1746, AN F12 705. The privilege of liberty put to the test 75 suffer considerable damage.” If their
force. Throughout the 1750s, Louviers’ entrepreneurs refused to release skilled workers even after they had fulfilled their obligations. Numerous complaints from workers, confirmed by a succession of inspectors of manufacturing, made clear the extent of masters’ power. The deputies of commerce described the situation as “tyranny,” which “by depriving workers of their natural liberty turned them into slaves.” The intendant was ordered to intervene by allowing inspectors of manufacturing to
10 Jean-Baptiste Goy, Mémoire sur les Bureaux de Toilerie établis dans la ville et Généralité de Rouen, et sur le commerce de ses fabriques en conséquence de la tournée générale que l’inspecteur des manufactures vient d’y faire, November 12, 1782, AN, F12 650. Takumi Tusda (ed.), Mémoires et Lettres de Vincent de Gournay (Tokyo: Hitotsubashi University, 1993), 27. 104 Economic Development in Early Modern France 4 and 6 million pounds were smuggled into Britain each year, though not solely