The General Introduction outlines the arguments of the book, stressing how Louis XIV's acceptance of the Spanish monarchy for his grandson Philippe in 1700 produced logistical overstretch and a huge increase in state spending in the context of declining revenues. A series of monetary and financial expedients were employed, but these only succeeded in expanding the state debt well beyond the capacity of France to service and withdraw it. The General Introduction outlines the shape of the debt, discusses the existing historiography, and describes the private-finance-related ‘fisco-financier’ system that managed royal revenues, a set-up in which short- and long-term shortfalls in revenue flows were bridged by state financiers using their own credit. The General Introduction then considers the inherent weakness of royal credit in France, and suggests that a ‘military-industrial complex’ of self-interested rent-seekers came to exercise a damaging influence on the monarchy.
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