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This book offers a lucid new interpretation of the Ancien Régime and the origins of the French Revolution. It examines what was arguably the most ambitious project of the eighteenth-century French monarchy: the attempt to impose direct taxes on formerly tax-exempt privileged elites. Drawing on impressive archival research, Michael Kwass demonstrates that the levy of these taxes, which struck elites with some force, not only altered the relationship between monarchy and social hierarchy, but also transformed political language and attitudes; attitudes that ultimately led to revolution.Read more
- Presents archival data on the thorny topic of taxation
- Bridges social history and political culture
- Treats the origins of the French revolution
- Winner of the David Pinkney Prize for the best book on French history published in 2000 by a US or Canadian citizen. The award is bestowed by The Society for French Historical Studies
Reviews & endorsements
"Richly documented and theoretically and methodologically sophisticated, Kwass's book will be requisite reading for anyone interested in the long-term political, social, and ideological origins of the French Revolution." American Historical ReviewSee more reviews
"...a significant contribution to our understanding of the politics of the Old Regime and its legacy to the Revolution." Journal of Modern History
"Kwass...examines the ambitious project of the 18th-century French monarchy to impose direct taxation on formerly tax-exempt privileged elites. He describes how the crown refashioned its institutions between monarchy and social hierarchy, but also transformed political language and attitudes in the decades before the French Revolution." Reference & Research Book News
"...an exceptionally readable and thorough work..." Choice
"...brief summary cannot do justice to the author's skillfully developed argument, which is butressed by abundant documentation drawn from a wide variety of archival and secondary sources. Cambridge University Press has enhanced the text by including illustrations and charts as well as an extensive index...Privilege and the Politics of Taxation in Eighteenth-Century France contributes substantially to our understanding of why and how the French Revolution happened." The Historian
"...a compelling study of the ways in which tax reform undermined the old regime and helped to create the republican political culture of the Revolution." H-FRANCE
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- Date Published: November 2006
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521030199
- length: 372 pages
- dimensions: 230 x 152 x 21 mm
- weight: 0.574kg
- contains: 6 b/w illus. 4 tables
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
List of figures
List of tables
List of abbreviations
Introduction: why taxes?
Part I. Reassessing Privilege:
1. The economy of privilege and the challenge of universal taxation
2. A kingdom of taxpayers
Part II. The Politics of Taxation and the Language of Dispute:
3. Petitioning for 'justice': tax disputes in the administrative sphere
4. Taking 'liberty' to the public: tax disputes in the institutional sphere
5. Taxation, Enlightenment and the printed word: debate in the literary sphere
Part III. From Resistance to Revolution:
6. Turning taxpayers into citizens: reform, revolution and the birth of modern political representation
Conclusion: liberté, égalité, fiscalité
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