This is the first book in English to study the history of the Estates General of Burgundy during the classic period of absolute monarchy. Although not a representative institution in any modern sense, the Estates were constantly engaged in a process of bargaining with the French crown, and this book examines that relationship under the Ancien Régime. Julian Swann analyses the organization, membership and powers of the Estates and explores their administration, their struggles for power with rival institutions and their relationship with the crown and with the Burgundian people. The Estates proved remarkably resilient when confronted by the challenges posed by the Bourbon monarchy, and by the reign of Louis XVI they were seemingly more powerful than ever. However the desire to protect their privileges and to extend their authority had not been accompanied by an attempt to forge a meaningful relationship with the people they claimed to serve.
• Fills a gap in our understanding of French provincial government • A significant contribution to the history of absolute monarchy and the origins of the French Revolution • Based on extensive archival research
List of illustrations; List of figures; List of appendices; List of map; Preface; List of abbreviations; Map: the duchy of Burgundy in the eighteenth century; 1. Historians, absolute monarchy and the provincial estates; 2. Ancien régime Burgundy; 3. The Estates General of Burgundy; 4. Nosseigneurs les élus and the officers of the Estates; 5. The provincial administration: authority and enforcement; 6. 'It's raining taxes': paying for the Sun King, 1661–1715; 7. Provincial administration in an age of iron, 1661–1715; 8. The limits of absolutism: crown, governor and the Estates in the eighteenth century; 9. Provincial rivalries: the Estates and the Parlement of Dijon in the eighteenth century; 10. Tax, borrow and lend: crown, Estates and finance, 1715–89; 11. An enlightened administration?; 12. The coming of the French revolution in Burgundy, 1787–9; Conclusion; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
'Based upon sound statistical evidence and thorough archival research, this is a tightly written examination … which is unlikely to be superseded in this generation.' History
'Based on careful archival research, gracefully written, and cogently argued, Swann's book is a welcome addition to the literature on the role of institutions in the old regime and the coming of the French Revolution. Those who wish to gain a better understanding of the often obscure mechanisms of power in eighteenth-century France will find this book well worth reading.' European History Quarterly