Lead: Schooled in the intricate politics of the royal administration of France’s King Louis XIV, Jean Baptiste Colbert had ambitious plans for France’s economy. His hopes were crushed by King’s rush to war.
Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.
Content: Colbert served in many capacities over the years, adapting quickly to the King’s desire to build a civil administration based not on connections, wealth or aristocracy, but rather on talent. Colbert gathered many jobs under his wing over the years but his most important was Superintendent of Finance. In that capacity, he revised the tax system, removing many of the exemptions that the nobility enjoyed from paying the taille, a land tax, the principal source of national revenue. He created a new civil office, the intendent, royal agents sent into the provinces to collect taxes and keep the King informed about local public opinion. He helped build Paris into a more modern capital but was frustrated in this by the King’s diversion of enormous sums into the construction of Versailles the magnificent royal lodge in the Paris suburbs.