The Revolutionary Spirit Preceding the French Revolution

By Félix Rocquain; J. D. Hunting | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI.
Reign of Louis XVI. -- The Joly de Fleury, d'Ormesson, and Calonne Ministries. (1781-1786.)

ON the day following the retirement of Necker, Louis XVI. declared that "though he had changed his ministers he had not "changed his principles." But the appointment of Joly de Fleury showed how much this Declaration was to be believed.

In August, 1781, an Edict was promulgated, which raised the taxes on all articles of consumption two sous in the livre. This was a return to the fiscal system in vogue in the time of Louis XV., which Necker and Turgot had both repudiated. The measure excited universal murmurs. Among the lower classes, who were most affected by it, the discontent more particularly showed itself. The Parliament, in gratitude for the sacrifice made to it of the "dangerous Genevan," registered the two sous in the livre without uttering a single remonstrance on behalf of the people. Other money-edicts followed. Returning, without scruple, to the old abuses, the minister caused a loan to be raised by the city of Paris to supply the personal needs of the Comte de Provence and the Comte d'Artois. He re-established the forty-eight offices of Receivers-General, the posts of Treasurers and Farmers-General, and all the suppressed appointments in the Royal household. The. King was, in fact, made to undo all Necker's work, as he had previously undone Turgot's, and thus, by his weakness and incessant self-contradictions, to lower himself more and more in public opinion.

Almost at the same time that the Government was annoying the public with its financial measures, it published a regulation,

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