The focus of French policy, as Vergennes assumed his new role that late summer of 1774, was on the need for reform, both domestic and in the military. The premise was that France would remain at peace while the government devoted its policies and resources to rehabilitating the nation, internally, from its clear political, economic and social stagnation and, internationally, from its fall in status as a major world power following its humiliating defeat by the English in the Seven Years' War, 1756-63. The cost to France of that diminished international stature had been painfully demonstrated as recently as 1772, when it was virtually ignored by Russia, Prussia and Austria, as they proceeded to partition part of Poland, which was a traditional ally and defensive bulwark for France in Eastern Europe against a penetration toward France by the mercurial and ever-dangerous Russians.
The goal under Louis XVI was to establish the public sector on a sound footing and to rebuild the army and navy on a more modern basis. Time would be needed as well as financial resources. Accordingly, an expensive war was to be avoided. France was to use its diplomatic skills to maintain its existing set of alliances with Spain and Austria and to create firm friendships with