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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 Maréchal de Castries and the Pre-Revolution

The Maréchal de Castries and the Pre-Revolution

(p.91) 5 The Maréchal de Castries and the Pre-Revolution
The Crisis of the Absolute Monarchy

Munro Price

British Academy

The actions and writings during the pre-revolution of the maréchal de Castries, minister of the marine from 1780 to 1787, shed significant new light on the absolute monarchy at the moment of its fall. Castries resigned his ministry in September 1787, a gesture that was widely and correctly interpreted as a refusal to serve under the new first minister, Loménie de Brienne. Yet from his retirement Castries sent a series of memoranda, most probably to his patroness Marie Antoinette, detailing his views on almost every aspect of the unfolding crisis right up until July 1789. They reveal Castries as an ‘English-style’ constitutional monarchist, convinced that the crown's problems could only be solved by the speedy convocation of the estates general, without whose consent taxation would henceforth be illegal. Castries' role in the years 1787–1789 thus offers a prime example of the loss of confidence in the absolute monarchy among those who should have been its staunchest defenders.

Keywords:   Castries, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, estates general, parlement, constitution, taxation

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