Charles Alexandre de Calonne

Last updated
Charles Alexandre de Calonne
Count of Hannonville

Charles-Alexandre de Calonne - Vigee-Lebrun 1784.jpg

Portrait of de Calonne by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun (1784, Royal Collection)
Controller-General of Finances
In office
3 November 1783 17 May 1787
Monarch Louis XVI
Preceded by Henri Lefèvre d'Ormesson
Succeeded by Michel Bouvard de Fourqueux
Personal details
Born(1734-01-20)20 January 1734
Douai, French Flanders and Hainaut, France
Died 30 October 1802(1802-10-30) (aged 68)
Paris, Seine, France
Spouse(s)Marie Joséphine Marquet(m. 1766;d. 1770)
Anne-Rose de Nettine(m. 1788;his d. 1802)
Children 1 son
Alma mater University of Paris
Profession Statesman, parliamentarian

Charles Alexandre de Calonne (20 January 1734 30 October 1802), titled Count of Hannonville in 1759, [1] was a French statesman, best known for his involvement in the French Revolution.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

French Revolution social and political revolution in France and its colonies occurring from 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Contents

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.

Parlement Ancien Régime justice court

A parlement, in the Ancien Régime of France, was a provincial appellate court. In 1789, France had 13 parlements, the most important of which was the Parlement of Paris. While the English word parliament derives from this French term, parlements were not legislative bodies. They consisted of a dozen or more appellate judges, or about 1,100 judges nationwide. They were the court of final appeal of the judicial system, and typically wielded much power over a wide range of subject matter, particularly taxation. Laws and edicts issued by the Crown were not official in their respective jurisdictions until the parlements gave their assent by publishing them. The members were aristocrats called nobles of the gown who had bought or inherited their offices, and were independent of the King.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Assembly of Notables

An Assembly of Notables was a group of high-ranking nobles, ecclesiastics, and state functionaries convened by the King of France on extraordinary occasions to consult on matters of state. Assemblymen were prominent men, usually of the aristocracy, and included royal princes, peers, archbishops, high-ranking judges, and, in some cases, major town officials. The king would issue one or more reforming edicts after hearing their advice.

Origins and rise to prominence

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, maître des requêtes , 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. [2]

Douai Subprefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Douai 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 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.

Lawyer legal professional who helps clients and represents them in a court of law

A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney, attorney at law, barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, counsellor, counselor at law, solicitor, chartered legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services.

Artois former province of France

Artois is a region of northern France. Its territory covers an area of about 4,000 km² and a population of about one million. Its principal cities are Arras, Saint-Omer, Lens, and Béthune.

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. [3] 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.

Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes French diplomat

Charles Gravier, Count of Vergennes was a French statesman and diplomat. He served as Foreign Minister from 1774 during the reign of Louis XVI, notably during the American War of Independence.

Habsburg Monarchy former Central European empire (1526–1804)

The Habsburg Monarchy – also Habsburg Empire, Austrian Monarchy or Danube Monarchy – is an unofficial umbrella term among historians for the countries and provinces that were ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg between 1526 and 1780 and then by the successor branch of Habsburg-Lorraine until 1918. The Monarchy was a typical composite state composed of territories within and outside the Holy Roman Empire, united only in the person of the monarch. The dynastic capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague. From 1804 to 1867 the Habsburg Monarchy was formally unified as the Austrian Empire, and from 1867 to 1918 as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Louis XVI of France King of France and Navarre

Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste, was the last King of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as Citizen Louis Capet during the four months before he was guillotined. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, son and heir apparent of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin of France. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he assumed the title "King of France and Navarre", which he used until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of "King of the French" until the monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792.

Measures

In taking office he found debts of 110 million livres, debts caused by France's involvement in the American Revolution among other reasons, [4] 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 [2] (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. [5] Calonne's eventual reform package, which was introduced to the Assembly of Notables, consisted of 5 major points:

Solvency, in finance or business, is the degree to which the current assets of an individual or entity exceed the current liabilities of that individual or entity. Solvency can also be described as the ability of a corporation to meet its long-term fixed expenses and to accomplish long-term expansion and growth. This is best measured using the net liquid balance (NLB) formula. In this formula solvency is calculated by adding cash and cash equivalents to short-term investments, then subtracting notes payable.

Gold coin coin made from gold

A gold coin is a coin that is made mostly or entirely of gold. Most gold coins minted since 1800 are 90–92% gold, while most of today's gold bullion coins are pure gold, such as the Britannia, Canadian Maple Leaf, and American Buffalo. Alloyed gold coins, like the American Gold Eagle and South African Krugerrand, are typically 91.7% gold by weight, with the remainder being silver and copper.

Discounts and allowances reductions in the basic prices of goods or services

Discounts and allowances are reductions to a basic price of goods or services.

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

5) Establish a universal land value tax [4]

Calonne Calonne.jpeg
Calonne

All these measures failed because of the powerlessness of the crown to impose them. [6] 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. [2]

In economics, a duty is a kind of tax levied by a state. It is often associated with customs, in which context they are also known as tariffs or dues. The term is often used to describe a tax on certain items purchased abroad. Properly, a duty differs from a tax in being levied on specific commodities, financial transactions, estates, etc. rather than on individuals. Duties may be import duties, excise duties, stamp duties, death or succession duties, etc.; but not such direct impositions as personal income taxes.

A property tax or millage rate is an ad valorem tax on the value of a property, usually levied on real estate. The tax is levied by the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which the property is located. This can be a national government, a federated state, a county or geographical region or a municipality. Multiple jurisdictions may tax the same property. This tax can be contrasted to a rent tax which is based on rental income or imputed rent, and a land value tax, which is a levy on the value of land, excluding the value of buildings and other improvements.

Estates of the realm broad social orders of the hierarchically conceived society recognised in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period in Christian Europe

The estates of the realm, or three estates, were the broad orders of social hierarchy used in Christendom from the medieval period to early modern Europe. Different systems for dividing society members into estates developed and evolved over time.

Deposition and exile

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.[ citation needed ] 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. [2] 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”. [7]

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. [2] 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. [8] 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. [2]

Legacy

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, [9] 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.

Notes

  1. John Nichols (April 1795). "The superlatively fine collection of ..." The Gentleman's Magazine. E. Cave.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Calonne, Charles Alexandre de". Encyclopædia Britannica . 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 60.
  3. von Güttner, Darius (2015). The French Revolution (1st ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Nelson Cengage Learning. p. 42. ISBN   9780170243995.
  4. 1 2 Ford, F: "Europe 17801830", page 102. Longman, 2002
  5. Haine, Scott. The History of France (1st ed.). Greenwood Press. p. 72. ISBN   0-313-30328-2.
  6. Crook, M. (2002) Revolutionary France, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  7. France 1789, Victory Over History: The French Revolution (Sydney, 2016), "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-06-23. Retrieved 2016-05-25.
  8. Calonne's presence in the entourage of the Count of Artois at this time is confirmed in a journal that documents the events surrounding the coronation of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II as King of Bohemia in Prague in September 1791: the Krönungsjournal für Prag (Prague, 1791), 203.
  9. White, Eugene Nelson, (1989), “Was there a Solution to the Ancien Régime’s Financial Dilemma”, Journal of Economic History, 49, 3, pp. 545-568.

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