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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 Problem with Necker’s Compte Rendu au roi (1781)

The Problem with Necker’s Compte Rendu au roi (1781)

Chapter:
(p.107) 6 The Problem with Necker’s Compte Rendu au roi (1781)
Source:
The Crisis of the Absolute Monarchy
Author(s):

Joël Félix

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265383.003.0006

Despite its iconic status, Necker's Compte-rendu au roi is one of the most debated but least understood historical documents of the Ancien Regime. This chapter challenges the assumption that the Compte-rendu was the first of its kind to be published and shows how it fitted within an established administrative tradition. It also rejects the classic interpretation according to which publication of the Compte-rendu was part of Necker's attempt at deceiving the public and justifying his popular but unsustainable policy of funding the American war without taxes. It is shown that the Compte-rendu's main objective, which drew heavily on the British fiscal system described by Necker as best practice, was to justify the necessity of additional fiscal resources — and fiscal transparency — for raising new loans to pay for the war. Rejection by Louis XVI of tax increase for fear of parlementaire opposition partly explains Necker's resignation.

Keywords:   Jacques Necker, fiscal policy, credit, American Independence, war finance, Louis XVI, Compte-rendu

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