POL218Y5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Montesquieu, Philosophes

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11 Feb 2016
France = interesting + important for 2 reasons
France is the third country in the world to undergo a liberal revolution, the
second being the US
Some of the things that went on in France is very much a reaction to what went
on in the US
France is important bc of both the symbolic significance of the French
Revolution and its broader role in how liberal democratic institutions
Also significant bc it was the second industrial country in the world
there is some debate about who industrialized after, the U.S or France
Slide: France: Nationalism & Revolution
• Introduction
Early subordination of nobility to the monarch
Absolutism in France
Louis XIV- L'etat, c'est moi
France was an absolutist state under Louis XIV
The hyper development of the absolutist state in France is what lead to
the revolution bc for a century after Louis, france proved incapable
of changing its system internally
Revolution and Reaction
Its failure bc the French Revolution does not result in a fully liberal
society in France
Slow development of liberal democracy
it finally becomes a liberal society to stay in 1871
so there’s a long drawn out transition from absolutism to liberalism
(about 90 years long), hence the slow development of liberal
Evolution of Partiers in France
Constitution of the 5th Republic
hybrid system
France has probably had one of the most complicated constitutional
The current french gov is referred to as the Fifth Republic
Each republic was governed by a different constitution (has 5) -
So the french have a love towards constitution writing as opposed to the
other countries we’ve studied
It has taken the French a long time to settle on a constitution they seem
to like
Political Economy of Postwar France
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In the post war economy, the French government/state plays the
strongest role of any of the countries we’re studying along with
Japan and then China, the french gov plays a very strong role in
leading and directing the growth of the post war economy
Many political scientists thinks there is a direct line that runs from Louis
XIV through Napoleon Bonaparte to the type of french gov and the
role the state plays in France after WW2 pretty much until the
Slide: The Modern French State
quasi-federal system, but before that France was extremely centralized
Iles de France (Paris, which is the core) was governed by the king, everything
else was governed by a very powerful duke
The political control of the monarch slowly extended outwards from the core
region of Iles De France (its Paris)
Slide: Absolutism in France
Emergence of Absolutist State
France was very feudal in the feudal period. The key transition really
comes with the 100 years war 1337 to 1452.
This is the period when the French succeed
Part of France was controlled by the English kings going back to 1066
(Norman Conquest). Dating from that period, the kings of England
controlled huge parts of France right down to the end of the
Hundred Years War.
It’s finally the defeat of the British in the Hundred Years war that the
french kings finally succeed in driving them out of France and
consolidating their political hold.
And then the next century follows a process of the kings trying to
consolidate their political power over the nobility.
The diff b/t England and France in this respect is twofold
1. The century of the 1500’s has a lot of religious wars b/t the French
and the Protestants
so the kings of France are always —. And unlike Henry the 8th
(he broke with the catholic church and he seized all the
church lands in England and made the catholic church into
the Church of England), France doesn’t resolve the Catholic,
Protestant divide quite as easily. Lots of wars between the
End of religious wars by Henry IV marked ascent of absolutism
The religious wars finally end under Henry IV with the Edict of Nantes
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Edict of Nantes, 1598 - marked as the beginning of the
absolutist era.
Also marks the era of powerful Cardinals (Cardinal Richelieu +
the Cardinals rule becomes quite powerful towards the end of the
rule of Louis the 13th and the early part of the reign of Louis
Mazarin takes over under Louis 14th
The cardinals are important bc they create the beginning of a
highly centralized state structure + institution in France.
They also begin to rationalize the administration, the
tax system
A lot of revenue comes from what is called tax farming
Royal finances
Rationalized tax farming, cut expenses, but constant need
for loans
tax farming was the practice whereby the king would sell
the right to collect taxes to an individual and the king
would sell it to an individual for a fixed amount of
money and that individual could then collect as much
taxes as they could squeeze out of peasants, the
merchants, traders, everybody else
so tax farming could be very lucrative if you could squeeze
more revenue out of the taxpayers
BUT it was destructive for the economy bc it squeezed a
lot of profit out of the hands of people that could have
been kept and reinvested to grow the capital economy
Cardinals Richelieu & Mazarin built centralized
So cardinals are important because they started to
rationalize the system by cutting expenses, by having
more control over it, but the Franch in the 1600s were
almost in a constant stat of war with other European
countries, and war as we know from Tilly and
everything else we have read so far… Tilly says war
*Sidenote: Tilly talks about war making as state formation
and state formation
By this he means that war making creates this incessant
demand for revenue to finance the military,
particularly after the feudal was over and the army
consisted more and more of paid professionals, and
so war making in Europe becomes incredibly
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