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The Politics of Privilege
Old Regime and Revolution in Lille


  • Date Published: May 2002
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521893725

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About the Authors
  • This study analyzes the political and fiscal origins of the French Revolution by looking at the relationship between the royal government and privileged, corporate bodies at local level. Utilizing a neo-Tocquevillian approach, it argues that the monarchy undermined its own attempts at reform by extending central authority, while at the same time it continued to rely upon corporate structures and monopolies to finance the state. The unresolvable, institutional conflicts had the effect of politicising members of the privileged elite and eventually led many of them to embrace a rhetoric of citizenship, accountability, and civic equality that had far-reaching and unanticipated consequences. When Lille's bourgeoisie consolidated a municipal revolution in 1789, they followed a programme that was politically liberal, but economically conservative. Arranged as a series of case-studies, the book illuminates the structure of political power in the Flemish provincial estates, the growth of royal taxation, the problem of municipal credit, the role of venal officeholders, and the relationship of the revolutionary bourgeoisie to monopolies of the guilds.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2002
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521893725
    • length: 276 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.443kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures and tables
    List of abbreviations
    1. Monarchy, privilege and revolution: the problem and setting
    2. State finance and local privileges
    3. Corps, bureaucracy and citizenship: the case of the Bureaux des Finances
    4. The excluded nobility and political representation
    5. A nation of equals: the demands of the Third Estate
    6. Uses of a regulated economy: the state against itself
    7. Corporate privilege and the bourgeoisie
    8. The abolition of the guilds
    9. The corporate heritage and the well-ordered state
    10. Conclusion

  • Author

    Gail Bossenga, University of Kansas

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