Early Modern State and Enterprise: Shaping the Dialogue between the French Monarchy and the Paper Manufacturers
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The role of the early modern French state in economic matters has long been of interest to historians. To some, this area offered a measure of the monarchy's ability to project its will. Others have debated the effects of royal interventions upon France's economic development, or traced the evolution of economic thought they reflected. The exceptional echo of the name of Jean-Baptiste Colbert has projected such questions well beyond academic research, and distinguishing his thoughts and actions from those of his predecessors and followers has shed much light on the evolution of the ancien regime. Until recently and in spite of their diversity, most enquiries have assumed the existence of inevitable tensions between authority and liberty in the economic sphere, suggesting that the early modern period saw the shaping of a dirigiste or etatiste tradition that, in spite of a belated acceptance of liberal principles, explains some particularities of France's economic development.