Realizing that the Parlement of Paris would never agree to reform, Calonne handpicked an Assembly of Notables in 1787 to approve new taxes. When they refused, Calonne's reputation plummeted and he was forced to leave the country.
Charles Alexandre de Calonne
|Controller-General of Finances|
3 November 1783 – 17 May 1787
|Preceded by||Henri Lefèvre d'Ormesson|
|Succeeded by||Michel Bouvard de Fourqueux|
|Born||20 January 1734|
Douai, French Flanders and Hainaut, France
|Died||30 October 1802 (aged 68)|
Paris, Seine, France
Marie Joséphine Marquet
(m. 1766; died 1770)
Anne-Rose de Nettine
(m. 1788; his d. 1802)
|Alma mater||University of Paris|
Born in Douai of an upper-class family, he entered the legal profession and became a lawyer to the general council of Artois, procureur to the parlement of Douai, Master of Requests (France), intendant of Metz (1768) and of Lille (1774). He seems to have been a man with notable business abilities and an entrepreneurial spirit, while generally unscrupulous in his political actions. In the terrible crisis preceding the French Revolution, when successive ministers tried in vain to replenish the exhausted royal treasury, Calonne was summoned as Controller-General of Finances, an office he assumed on 3 November 1783.
He owed the position to the Comte de Vergennes, who for over three years continued to support him. According to the Habsburg ambassador, his public image was extremely poor. Calonne immediately set about remedying the fiscal crisis, and he found in Louis XVI enough support to create a vast and ambitious plan of revenue-raising and administrative centralization. Calonne focused on maintaining public confidence through building projects and spending, which was mainly designed to maintain the Crown's capacity to borrow funds. He presented the king with his plan on 20 August 1786. At its heart was a new land value tax, which would replace the old vingtieme taxes and finally sweep away the fiscal exemptions of the privileged orders. The new tax would be administered by a system of provincial assemblies elected by the local property owners at parish, district and provincial level. This central proposal was accompanied by a further package of rationalizing reform, including free trade in grain and abolition of France's myriad internal customs barriers. It was in effect one, if not the most, comprehensive attempt at enlightened reform during the reign of Louis XVI.
In taking office he found debts of 110 million livres, debts caused by France's involvement in the American Revolution among other reasons, and no means of paying them. At first he attempted to obtain credit, and to support the government by means of loans so as to maintain public confidence in its solvency. In October 1785 he reissued the gold coinage, and he developed the caisse d'escompte (dealing in cash discounts). Knowing the Parlement of Paris would veto a single land tax payable by all landowners, Calonne persuaded Louis XVI to call an assembly of notables to vote on his referendum. Calonne's eventual reform package, which was introduced to the Assembly of Notables, consisted of 5 major points:
1) Cut Government Spending
2) Create a revival of free trade methods
3) Authorize the sale of Church property
4) Equalization of salt and tobacco taxes
All these measures failed because of the powerlessness of the crown to impose them. As a last resort, he proposed to the king the suppression of internal customs duties, and argued in favor of the taxation of the property of nobles and clergy. Anne Robert Jacques Turgot and Jacques Necker had attempted these reforms, and Calonne attributed their failure to the opposition of the parlements. Therefore, he called an Assemblée des notables in February 1787, to which he presented the deficit in the treasury, and proposed the establishment of a subvention territoriale, which would be levied on all property without distinction.
This suppression of privileges was badly received. Calonne's spendthrift and authoritarian reputation was well-known to the parlements, earning him their enmity. Knowing this, he intentionally submitted his reform programme directly to the king and the hand-picked assembly of notables, not to the sovereign courts or parlements, first. Composed of the old regime's social and political elite, however, the assembly of notables balked at the deficit presented to them when they met at Versailles in February 1787, and despite Calonne's plan for reform and his backing from the king, they suspected that the controller-general was in some way responsible for the enormous financial strains. Calonne, angered, printed his reports and so alienated the court. Louis XVI dismissed him on 8 April 1787 and exiled him to Lorraine. The joy was general in Paris, where Calonne, accused of wishing to raise taxes, was known as Monsieur Déficit. Calonne soon afterwards left for Great Britain, and during his residence there kept up a polemical correspondence with Necker. After being dismissed, Calonne stated, "The King, who assured me a hundred times that he would support me with unshakable firmness, abandoned me, and I succumbed”.
In 1789, when the Estates-General were about to assemble, he crossed to Flanders in the hope of offering himself for election, but he was forbidden to enter France. In revenge he joined the émigré group at Coblenz, wrote in their favour, and spent nearly all the fortune brought him by his wife, a wealthy widow. He was present with the Count of Artois, the reactionary brother of Louis XVI, at Pillnitz in August 1791 at the time of the issuance of the Declaration of Pillnitz, an attempt to intimidate the revolutionary government of France that the Count of Artois pressed for. In 1802, having again settled in London, he received permission from Napoleon Bonaparte to return to France. He died about a month after his arrival in his native country.
Calonne's negative reputation and assumed responsibility for France's financial crisis in the years leading to the Revolution of 1789 have been judged unfair by historians such as Munro Price. During his position as controller-general, he had genuinely tried to make amends for his previous spendthrift policies. As a contemporary writer, Chamfort, remarked, Calonne was "applauded when he lit the fire, and condemned when he sounded the alarm." Economic historians such as Eugene White, have however stressed the negative role played by Calonne who continued the restoration of a venal system of financial administration. His fall had important significance to the fate of the monarchy in France before 1789. The financial strains made apparent through Calonne's attempts at reform revealed the instability of the monarchy as a whole, which up until then had been managed on the basis of traditional monarchical absolutism: secretly, hierarchically, without public scrutiny of accounts or consent to taxation. For centuries, the monarchy had controlled fiscal policy on its own terms, and when knowledge of an unmanageable and growing deficit became more widely known, the image was of a failed and, in many ways, corrupt institution. Louis XVI, who had backed Calonne's reform programme wholehearthedly, saw its refusal by the notables and the parliament as a personal failure. Conscientious in his attempts to alleviate the suffering of the French people, the king, it is clear, genuinely hoped to implement an enlightened policy with the help of Calonne. Crushed by this opposition to Calonne's project, the king withdrew to long hours of hunting and larger meals. Many historians see the ensuing months as the beginning of the king's bouts of depression.
Events from the year 1802 in France.Calonne
Calonne may refer to:
Ariel Pierre Calonne, City Attorney for the City of Santa Barbara, California, USA
Charles Alexandre de Calonne, a French statesman
Jacques Calonne, a Belgian artist, musician, and writer
Michel Calonne, a French writer
The Calonne (river), a minor tributary of the Touques (river) in Normandy
Calonne, a village in the municipality of Antoing, Belgium
Calonne-Ricouart, commune of the Pas-de-Calais department in France
Calonne-sur-la-Lys, commune of the Pas-de-Calais department in FranceCauses of the French Revolution
The causes of the French Revolution can be attributed to several intertwining factors:
Cultural: The Enlightenment philosophy desacralized the authority of the monarchy and the Catholic Church, and promoted a new society based on reason instead of traditions.
Social: The emergence of an influential bourgeoisie which was formally part of the Third Estate (commoners) bourgeoisie idea had evolved into a caste with its own agenda and aspired to political equality with the clergy (First Estate) and the aristocracy (Second Estate).
Financial: France's debt, aggravated by French involvement in the American Revolution, led Louis XVI to implement new taxations and to reduce privileges.
Political: Louis XVI faced strong opposition from provincial parlements which were the spearheads of the privileged classes' resistance to royal reforms.
Economic: The deregulation of the grain market, advocated by liberal economists, resulted in an increase in bread prices. In periods of bad harvests, it would lead to food scarcity which would prompt the masses to revolt.All these factors created a revolutionary atmosphere and a tricky situation for Louis XVI. In order to resolve the crisis, the king summoned the Estates-General in May 1789 and, as it came to an impasse, the representatives of the Third Estates formed a National Assembly, against the wishes of the king, signaling the outbreak of the French Revolution.Charles Paul Jean Baptiste de Bourgevin Vialart de Saint-Morys
Charles Paul Jean Baptiste de Bourgevin Vialart de Moligny, comte de Saint-Morys (11 July 1743, Paris - 15 August 1795, île de Houat) was a French art collector.Charles d'Abancour
Charles Xavier Joseph de Franque Ville d'Abancour (4 July 1758 – 9 September 1792) was a French statesman, minister to Louis XVI.Concours général
In France, the Concours Général is the most prestigious academic competition held every year between students of Première (11th grade) and Terminale (12th and final grade) in almost all subjects taught in both general, technological and professional high schools. Exams usually take place in March, and their results are known in June or July. Students who show great ability in one field are selected to participate by their teachers and their school principal. Most of the time, no more than one student per high school is allowed to participate in the competition, which requires strong knowledge of college level topics. In the humanities and social sciences, the exams involve one or more essays and last 5 hours. In the sciences, the exams last almost as long and are problem-based.
In a given subject, up to 18 awards can be given:
up to 3 Prizes. A student winning a prize takes part in a ceremony held in the main amphitheatre of the Sorbonne University, where he or she is given the diploma and congratulated by the Minister of Education and members of the government.
up to 5 Accessits
up to 10 Regional awardsA student who wins any of the above is called a "lauréat du Concours Général". In Mathematics, the "Lauréat" is invited to a series of conferences at the Institute Poincaré and is usually selected to attend the Clay Institute summer school of science.Day of the Tiles
The Day of the Tiles (French: Journée des Tuiles) was an event that took place in the French town of Grenoble on 7 June in 1788. It was one of the first disturbances which preceded the French Revolution, and is credited by a few historians as its start.Douai
Douai (French: [dwɛ]; Dutch: Dowaai; historically "Doway" in English) is a commune in the Nord département in northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department. Located on the river Scarpe some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Lille and 25 km (16 mi) from Arras, Douai is home to one of the region's most impressive belfries. The population of the metropolitan area, including Lens, was 552,682 in 1999.France in the American Revolutionary War
French involvement in the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, when France, a rival of the British Empire, secretly shipped supplies to the Continental Army. A Treaty of Alliance in 1778 soon followed, which led to shipments of money and matériel to the United States. Subsequently, the Spanish Empire and the Dutch Republic also began to send assistance, leaving the British Empire with no allies(excluding the Hessian Soldiers). Spain openly declared war but the Dutch did not.
France's help is considered a major, vital, and decisive contribution to the United States' victory against the British. As a cost of participation in the war, France accumulated over 1 billion livres in debt.François Laborde de Méreville
François Louis Jean-Joseph de Laborde (1761-1801) was a French banker, deputy for the Third Estate to the Estates General of 1789 and garden-lover. He also bore the name Méréville after his huge estate at château de Méréville in Beauce, acquired by his father under Louis XVI.Intendant (government official)
An intendant (French: intendant [ɛ̃.tɑ̃.dɑ̃], Portuguese and Spanish: intendente) was and sometimes still is a usually public official, especially in France, Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. The intendancy system was a centralizing administrative system developed in France. When France won the War of the Spanish Succession and the House of Bourbon was established on the throne of Spain, the intendancy system was extended to Spain and the Spanish Empire. Regions were divided into districts administered by the intendant. The title continues to be used in Spain and parts of Spanish America for particular government officials.List of Finance Ministers of France
This is a list of French finance ministers, including the equivalent positions of Superintendent of Finances and Controller-General of Finances during the ancien régime.List of people associated with the French Revolution
This is a partial list of people associated with the French Revolution, including supporters and opponents. Note that not all people listed here were French.Louis Auguste Le Tonnelier de Breteuil
Louis Charles Auguste Le Tonnelier, Baron de Breteuil, Baron de Preuilly (7 March 1730 – 2 November 1807) was a French aristocrat, diplomat and statesman. He was the last Prime Minister of the Bourbon Monarchy, appointed by King Louis XVI only one hundred hours before the storming of the Bastille.Nobles of the Robe
Under the Old Regime of France, the Nobles of the Robe or Nobles of the Gown (French: Noblesse de robe) were French aristocrats whose rank came from holding certain judicial or administrative posts. As a rule, the positions did not of themselves give the holder a title of nobility, such as baron, count, or duke (but the holder might also hold such a title), but they were almost always attached to a specific function. The offices were often hereditary, and by 1789, most had inherited their positions. The most influential of them were the 1,100 members of the 13 parlements, or courts of appeal. They were distinct from the "Nobles of the Sword" (French: Noblesse d'épée), whose nobility was based on their families' traditional function as the knightly class and whose titles were usually attached to a particular feudal fiefdom, a landed estate held in return for military service. Together with the older nobility, the Nobles of the Robe made up the Second Estate in pre-revolutionary France.Reading Abbey Girls' School
Reading Abbey Girls' School, or iterations of this establishment under similar names, achieved notability in the nineteenth century. The St Quentins, a husband and wife team, were associated with several girls' schools in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Many of their pupils went on to make a mark on English culture and society, particularly as writers. The most famous was Jane Austen, who used their school in Reading, Berkshire as a model of "a real, honest, old-fashioned Boarding-school".Storming of the Bastille
The Storming of the Bastille (French: Prise de la Bastille [pʁiz də la bastij]) occurred in Paris, France, on the afternoon of 14 July 1789. The medieval fortress, armory, and political prison in Paris known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the centre of Paris. The prison contained just seven inmates at the time of its storming, but was seen by the revolutionaries as a symbol of the monarchy's abuses of power; its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution.
In France, Le quatorze juillet (14 July) is a public holiday, usually called Bastille Day in English.Trial of Louis XVI
The trial of Louis XVI was a key event of the French Revolution. It involved the trial of the former French king Louis XVI before the National Convention and led to his execution.Wig
A wig is a head covering made from human hair, animal hair, or synthetic fiber. The word wig is short for periwig, which makes its earliest known appearance in the English language in William Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Some people wear wigs to disguise baldness; a wig may be used as a less intrusive and less expensive alternative to medical therapies for restoring hair or for a religious reason.