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The Crisis of the Absolute MonarchyFrance from Old Regime to Revolution$
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Julian Swann and Joël Félix

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265383

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265383.001.0001

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The Maison militaire du roi and the Disintegration of the Old Regime

The Maison militaire du roi and the Disintegration of the Old Regime

(p.245) 13 The Maison militaire du roi and the Disintegration of the Old Regime
The Crisis of the Absolute Monarchy

Guy Rowlands

British Academy

For all the research that has been done into French politics and society in the fifty years before the Revolution, only a handful of serious studies have looked at the great noble families and the royal court. Moreover, the history of the army, where leading noble families dominated the upper ranks, has been integrated neither with that of the court, nor with that of intra-noble relations. This chapter therefore examines the most prestigious units of the French army — the privileged forces associated directly with the royal households — to bring together the history of the military and the court and suggest why, by the time the old regime collapsed in 1787–89, the great nobility was at loggerheads with the monarchy, and why relations between higher and lesser nobles had deteriorated a great deal since the reign of Louis XIV. The collapse of elite cohesion was ultimately disastrous for all concerned.

Keywords:   army, royal court, nobility, household troops, French Revolution, monarchy

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