Jean-Baptiste Colbert

Jean-Baptiste Colbert

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Jean-Baptiste Colbert'
Start a new discussion about 'Jean-Baptiste Colbert'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Jean-Baptiste Colbert was a French politician who served as the Minister of Finances of France from 1665 to 1683 under the rule of King Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

. His relentless hard work and thrift made him an esteemed minister. He achieved a reputation for his work of improving the state of French manufacturing
Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale...

 and bringing the economy
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

 back from the brink of bankruptcy
Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a legal status of an insolvent person or an organisation, that is, one that cannot repay the debts owed to creditors. In most jurisdictions bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor....

. Historians note that, despite Colbert's efforts, France actually became increasingly impoverished
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 because of the King's excessive spending on wars. Colbert worked to create a favourable balance of trade
Balance of trade
The balance of trade is the difference between the monetary value of exports and imports of output in an economy over a certain period. It is the relationship between a nation's imports and exports...

 and increase France's colonial
Colony
In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception....

 holdings. Colbert's plan was to build a general academy.

Colbert's market
Market
A market is one of many varieties of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange. While parties may exchange goods and services by barter, most markets rely on sellers offering their goods or services in exchange for money from buyers...

 reforms included the foundation of the Manufacture royale de glaces de miroirs
Manufacture royale de glaces de miroirs
The Manufacture royale de glaces de miroirs was the royal manufactory that produced the glass of Louis XIV's Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, and the distant fore-runner of Saint-Gobain, the French glass manufacturer and industrial complex of today...

in 1665 to supplant the importation of Venetian glass
Venetian glass
Venetian glass is a type of glass object made in Venice, Italy, primarily on the island of Murano. It is world-renowned for being colourful, elaborate, and skillfully made....

 (forbidden in 1672, as soon as French glass manufacturing industry was on sound footing) and to encourage the technical expertise of Flemish
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 cloth manufacturing
Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale...

 in France. He also founded royal tapestry
Tapestry
Tapestry is a form of textile art, traditionally woven on a vertical loom, however it can also be woven on a floor loom as well. It is composed of two sets of interlaced threads, those running parallel to the length and those parallel to the width ; the warp threads are set up under tension on a...

 works at Gobelins
Gobelins manufactory
The Manufacture des Gobelins is a tapestry factory located in Paris, France, at 42 avenue des Gobelins, near the Les Gobelins métro station in the XIIIe arrondissement...

 and supported those at Beauvais
Beauvais tapestry
The Beauvais tapestry manufacture was the second in importance, after the Gobelins tapestry, of French tapestry workshops that were established under the general direction of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the finance minister of Louis XIV...

. Colbert worked to develop the domestic economy
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

 by raising tariff
Tariff
A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

s and by encouraging major public works
Public works
Public works are a broad category of projects, financed and constructed by the government, for recreational, employment, and health and safety uses in the greater community...

 projects. Colbert also worked to ensure that the French East India Company
French East India Company
The French East India Company was a commercial enterprise, founded in 1664 to compete with the British and Dutch East India companies in colonial India....

 had access to foreign markets, so that they could always obtain coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

, cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, dyewoods
Dyewoods
Dyewoods refers to a number of varieties of wood which provided dyes for textiles and other purposes. Some of the more important include:*Brazilwood or brazil from Brazil, producing a red dye....

, fur
Fur
Fur is a synonym for hair, used more in reference to non-human animals, usually mammals; particularly those with extensives body hair coverage. The term is sometimes used to refer to the body hair of an animal as a complete coat, also known as the "pelage". Fur is also used to refer to animal...

, pepper
Black pepper
Black pepper is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is approximately in diameter, dark red when fully mature, and, like all drupes, contains a single seed...

, and sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

. In addition, Colbert founded the French merchant marine.

Colbert issued more than 150 edict
Edict
An edict is an announcement of a law, often associated with monarchism. The Pope and various micronational leaders are currently the only persons who still issue edicts.-Notable edicts:...

s to regulate
Regulation
Regulation is administrative legislation that constitutes or constrains rights and allocates responsibilities. It can be distinguished from primary legislation on the one hand and judge-made law on the other...

 the guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

s. One such law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 had the intention of improving the quality of cloth. The edict declared that if the authorities found a merchant
Merchant
A merchant is a businessperson who trades in commodities that were produced by others, in order to earn a profit.Merchants can be one of two types:# A wholesale merchant operates in the chain between producer and retail merchant...

's cloth unsatisfactory on three separate occasions, they were to tie him to a post with the cloth attached to him.

Biography


Colbert's father and grandfather operated as merchants in his birthplace of Reims
Reims
Reims , a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, lies east-northeast of Paris. Founded by the Gauls, it became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire....

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. He claimed to have Scottish ancestry. A general (but unconfirmed) belief exists that he spent his early youth at a Jesuit  college, working for a Parisian banker; as well as working for the father of Jean Chapelain
Jean Chapelain
Jean Chapelain was a French poet and writer.-Biography:Chapelain was born in Paris. His father wanted him to become a notary; but his mother, who had known Pierre de Ronsard, had decided otherwise...

. Before the age of 20, Colbert had a post in the war office; a position generally attributed to the marriage of an uncle to the sister of Secretary of War Michel le Tellier
Michel Le Tellier
Michel Le Tellier, marquis de Barbezieux, seigneur de Chaville et de Viroflay was a French statesman.-Biography:...

. Colbert spent some time as an inspector of troops, eventually becoming the personal secretary of Le Tellier. In 1647, through unknown means, Colbert acquired the confiscated goods of an uncle, Pussort. In 1648, he and his wife Marie Charron, received 40,000 crowns from an unknown source; and in 1649 Colbert became the councillor of state (Political minister). Aaron

The death of Mazarin and Colbert's rise


Colbert was recommended to King Louis XIV by Mazarin. While Cardinal Mazarin was in exile, Louis' trust in Colbert grew. In 1652 Colbert was asked to manage the affairs of the Cardinal while he was away. This new responsibility would detach Colbert from his other responsibility as commissaire des guerres. Although Colbert was not a supporter of Mazarin in principle, he would defend the cardinal's interests with unflagging devotion.

Colbert's earliest recorded attempt at tax reform came in the form of a mémoire to Mazarin, showing that of the taxes paid by the people, not one-half reached the King. The paper also contained an attack upon the Superintendent Fouquet
Nicolas Fouquet
Nicolas Fouquet, marquis de Belle-Île, vicomte de Melun et Vaux was the Superintendent of Finances in France from 1653 until 1661 under King Louis XIV...

. The postmaster
Postmaster
A postmaster is the head of an individual post office. Postmistress is not used anymore in the United States, as the "master" component of the word refers to a person of authority and has no gender quality...

 of Paris, a spy of Fouquet's, read the letter, leading to a dispute which Mazarin attempted to suppress.

In 1661, Mazarin died and Colbert "made sure of the King's favour" by revealing the location of some of Mazarin's hidden wealth. In January 1664 Colbert became the Superintendent of buildings
Bâtiments du Roi
The Bâtiments du Roi was a division of Department of the household of the Kings of France in France under the Ancien Régime. It was responsible for building works at the King's residences in and around Paris.-History:...

; in 1665 he became Controller-General of Finances
Controller-General of Finances
The Controller-General of Finances was the name of the minister in charge of finances in France from 1661 to 1791. The position replaced the former position of Superintendent of Finances , which was abolished with the downfall of Nicolas Fouquet.- History :The term "contrôleur général" in...

; in 1669, he became Secretary of State of the Navy
Secretary of State of the Navy (France)
The Secretary of State of the Navy was one of the four or five specialized secretaries of state in France during the Ancien Régime. This Secretary of State was responsible for the French navy and for French colonies...

; he also gained appointments as minister of commerce
Commerce
While business refers to the value-creating activities of an organization for profit, commerce means the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural, and technological systems that are in operation in any...

, of the colonies
Colony
In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception....

 and of the palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

. In short, Colbert acquired power in every department except that of war.

A great financial and fiscal reform at once claimed all his energies. Not only the nobility, but many others who had no legal claim to exemption, paid no taxes; the bulk of the burden fell on the wretched country-folk. Supported by the young king Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

, Colbert aimed the first blow at the man accused of being the greatest of the royal embezzlers, the superintendent Nicolas Fouquet
Nicolas Fouquet
Nicolas Fouquet, marquis de Belle-Île, vicomte de Melun et Vaux was the Superintendent of Finances in France from 1653 until 1661 under King Louis XIV...

. Fouquet's fall, it should be noted, simultaneously secured Colbert's own advancement.

Economic reform


With the abolition of the office of superintendent and of many other offices dependent upon it, the supreme control of the finances became vested in a royal council. The sovereign functioned as its president; but Colbert, though for four years he possessed the title only of intendant
Intendant des finances
The Intendants des finances were intendants or agents of France's financial administration under the Ancien Régime.-History:The role of intendant des finances was created in 1552 as a 'commission' or committee, to manage the subsidies raised for the 'trip to Germany', though these commissaires were...

, operated as its ruling spirit, having had great personal authority conferred upon him by the king. One must not judge the career on which Colbert now entered without remembering the corruption of the previous financial administration. His ruthlessness in this case, dangerous precedent though it gave, seemed perhaps necessary; the council could not respect individual interests. When he had severely punished guilty officials, he turned his attention to the fraudulent creditors of the government. Colbert had a simple method of operation. He repudiated some of the public loans and cut off from others a percentage, which varied, at first according to his own decision, and afterwards according to that of the council that he established to examine all claims against the state.

Much more serious difficulties met his attempts to introduce equality in the pressure of the taxes on the various classes. To diminish the number of the privileged proved impossible, but Colbert firmly resisted false claims for exemption, and lightened the unjust direct taxation by increasing the indirect taxes, from which the privileged could not escape. At the same time he immensely improved the mode of collection on his own.

Colbertism




Having thus introduced a measure of order and economy into the workings of the government, Colbert now called for the enrichment of the country by commerce. The state, through Colbert's dirigiste policies, fostered manufacturing enterprises in a wide variety of fields. The authorities established new industries, protected inventors, invited in workmen from foreign countries, and prohibited French workmen from emigrating. To maintain the character of French goods in foreign markets, as well as to afford a guarantee to the home consumer, Colbert had the quality and measure of each article fixed by law, punishing breaches of the regulations by public exposure of the delinquent and by destruction of the goods concerned, and, on the third offense, by the pillory
Pillory
The pillory was a device made of a wooden or metal framework erected on a post, with holes for securing the head and hands, formerly used for punishment by public humiliation and often further physical abuse, sometimes lethal...

. But whatever advantage resulted from this rule, the disadvantages it entailed more than outweighed them. Colbert prohibited the production of qualities which would have suited many purposes of consumption, and the odious supervision which became necessary involved great waste of time and a stereotyped regularity which resisted all improvements. Other parts of Colbert's schemes have met with less equivocal condemnation.
By his firm maintenance of the corporation
Corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

 system, each industry remained in the hands of certain privileged bourgeois; in this way, too, the system greatly discouraged improvement; while the lower classes found opportunities of advancement closed. With regard to international commerce Colbert suffered equally from lack of foresight: the tariffs he devised protected commerce to an extreme, and under his tutelage enforcement of trade and quality restrictions was draconian. He did, however, wisely consult the interests of internal commerce. Unable to abolish the duties on the passage of goods from province to province
Provinces of France
The Kingdom of France was organised into provinces until March 4, 1790, when the establishment of the département system superseded provinces. The provinces of France were roughly equivalent to the historic counties of England...

, he did what he could to induce the provinces to equalise them. Currency exchange rates still remained between these provinces despite a policy focusing on the unification of French trade. His régime improved roads and canals. Pierre Paul Riquet (1604–1680) planned and constructed the Canal du Midi
Canal du Midi
The is a long canal in Southern France . The canal connects the Garonne River to the on the Mediterranean and along with the Canal de Garonne forms the Canal des Deux Mers joining the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The canal runs from the city of Toulouse down to the Étang de Thau...

 under Colbert's patronage. To encourage overseas trade with the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

, Senegal
Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

, Guinea
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

 and other places, Colbert granted privileges to companies, but, like the noted French East India Company
French East India Company
The French East India Company was a commercial enterprise, founded in 1664 to compete with the British and Dutch East India companies in colonial India....

, all proved unsuccessful. The narrowness and rigidity of the government regulations significantly contributed to this collapse, as well as the failure of the colonies, upon which Colbert had bestowed a great deal of energy and political capital.

Religion


Even ecclesiastical affairs, though with these he had no official concern, did not altogether escape Colbert's attention. He took a subordinate part in the struggle between the king and the papacy as to the royal rights over vacant bishopric
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

s; and he seems to have sympathised with the proposal that suggested seizing part of the wealth of the clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

. In his hatred of idleness he ventured to suppress no less than seventeen fêtes, and he had a project for lessening the number of persons devoted to clerical and monastic life, by fixing the age for taking the vows some years later than the then customary time. He showed himself at first unwilling to interfere with heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

, for he realised the commercial value of the Huguenots (French Protestants), who were well represented among the merchant classes; but when the king resolved to make all France Roman Catholic, he followed him and urged his subordinates to do all that they could to promote conversion
Religious conversion
Religious conversion is the adoption of a new religion that differs from the convert's previous religion. Changing from one denomination to another within the same religion is usually described as reaffiliation rather than conversion.People convert to a different religion for various reasons,...

s.

Culture



Colbert took much interest in art and literature. He possessed a remarkably fine private library, which he delighted to fill with valuable manuscripts from every part of Europe and the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

 where France had placed a consul. He employed Pierre de Carcavi and Étienne Baluze
Étienne Baluze
Étienne Baluze was a French scholar, also known as Stephanus Baluzius.Born in Tulle, he was educated at his native town and took minor orders. As secretary to Pierre de Marca, archbishop of Toulouse, he won his appreciation of him, and at his death Marca left him all his papers...

 as librarians. Colbert's grandson sold the manuscript collection in 1732 to the Bibliothèque Royale. Colbert has the honour of having founded the Academy of Sciences
French Academy of Sciences
The French Academy of Sciences is a learned society, founded in 1666 by Louis XIV at the suggestion of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, to encourage and protect the spirit of French scientific research...

 (now part of the Institut de France
Institut de France
The Institut de France is a French learned society, grouping five académies, the most famous of which is the Académie française.The institute, located in Paris, manages approximately 1,000 foundations, as well as museums and chateaux open for visit. It also awards prizes and subsidies, which...

), the Paris Observatory
Paris Observatory
The Paris Observatory is the foremost astronomical observatory of France, and one of the largest astronomical centres in the world...

, which he employed Claude Perrault
Claude Perrault
Claude Perrault is best known as the architect of the eastern range of the Louvre Palace in Paris , but he also achieved success as a physician and anatomist, and as an author, who wrote treatises on physics and natural history.Perrault was born and died in Paris...

 to build and brought Giovanni Domenico Cassini
Giovanni Domenico Cassini
This article is about the Italian-born astronomer. For his French-born great-grandson, see Jean-Dominique Cassini.Giovanni Domenico Cassini was an Italian/French mathematician, astronomer, engineer, and astrologer...

 (1625–1712) from Italy to superintend, the Academies of Inscriptions and Medals, of Architecture
Académie d'architecture
The Académie royale d'architecture was a French learned society founded on December 30, 1671 by Louis XIV, king of France under the impulsion of Jean-Baptiste Colbert...

 and of Music, the French Academy at Rome, and Academies at Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

, Soissons
Soissons
Soissons is a commune in the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France, located on the Aisne River, about northeast of Paris. It is one of the most ancient towns of France, and is probably the ancient capital of the Suessiones...

, Nîmes
Nîmes
Nîmes is the capital of the Gard department in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France. Nîmes has a rich history, dating back to the Roman Empire, and is a popular tourist destination.-History:...

 and many other towns. He reorganised the Academy of Painting and Sculpture
Académie de peinture et de sculpture
The Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture , Paris, was founded in 1648, modelled on Italian examples, such as the Accademia di San Luca in Rome. Paris already had the Académie de Saint-Luc, which was a city artist guild like any other Guild of Saint Luke...

 which Mazarin had established. He himself became a member of the Académie française
Académie française
L'Académie française , also called the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution,...

; and proposed one very characteristic rule with the intention of expediting the great Dictionary, in which he had a great interest: no one could count as present at any meeting unless he arrived before the hour of commencement and remained till the hour for leaving. In 1673 Colbert presided over the first exhibition of the works of living painters; and he enriched the Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

 with hundreds of pictures and statues. He gave many pensions to men of letters, among whom we find Molière
Molière
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature...

, Corneille
Pierre Corneille
Pierre Corneille was a French tragedian who was one of the three great seventeenth-century French dramatists, along with Molière and Racine...

, Racine
Jean Racine
Jean Racine , baptismal name Jean-Baptiste Racine , was a French dramatist, one of the "Big Three" of 17th-century France , and one of the most important literary figures in the Western tradition...

, Boileau
Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux
Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux was a French poet and critic.-Biography:Boileau was born in the rue de Jérusalem, in Paris, France. He was brought up to the law, but devoted to letters, associating himself with La Fontaine, Racine, and Molière...

, P D Huet
Pierre Daniel Huet
Pierre Daniel Huet was a French churchman and scholar, editor of the Delphin Classics, founder of the Academie du Physique in Caen and Bishop of Soissons from 1685 to 1689 and afterwards of Avranches.-Life:...

 (1630–1721) and Antoine Varillas
Antoine Varillas
Antoine Varillas was a French historian, best known for his history of heresy.-Life:He was born in Guéret and made a troubled way as a man of letters in Paris. He worked as a historian for Gaston, Duke of Orléans. Then through an introductions from Pierre Dupuy he was able to have library access,...

 (1626–1696); and even foreigners, as Huygens, Carlo Dati the Dellacruscan
Accademia della Crusca
The Accademia della Crusca is an Italian society for scholars and Italian linguists and philologists established in Florence. After the Accademia Cosentina, it is the oldest Italian academy still in existence...

. Evidence exists to show that by this munificence he hoped to draw out praises of his sovereign and himself; but this motive certainly does not account for all the splendid, if in some cases specious, services that he rendered to literature, science and art.

Death and legacy


Colbert worked incessantly hard until his final hours. Work was his religion; he once pondered whether it was better to rise early and work or retire very late and work. He concluded that rising early and retiring late would be the ideal combination. But towards the end of his life he suffered from stomach aches, which caused him much distress. He was reduced to eating moist bread dipped in chicken broth for his meals. By 64 he was bedridden and shortly after his birthday he died. The surgeons who examined him found that he had been suffering from kidney stone
Kidney stone
A kidney stone, also known as a renal calculus is a solid concretion or crystal aggregation formed in the kidneys from dietary minerals in the urine...

s. A huge stone was found in his urinary tract, which would explain why he was in such writhing agony.

In 1657, he purchased the Barony of Seignelay
Seignelay
Seignelay is a commune in the Yonne department in Burgundy in north-central France....

.

Of his children, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay
Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay
Jean-Baptiste Antoine Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay was a French politician. He was the eldest son of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, nephew of Charles Colbert de Croissy and cousin of Jean-Baptiste Colbert de Torcy....

 followed his father as Secretary of State of the Navy
Secretary of State of the Navy (France)
The Secretary of State of the Navy was one of the four or five specialized secretaries of state in France during the Ancien Régime. This Secretary of State was responsible for the French navy and for French colonies...

 while Jacques-Nicolas Colbert
Jacques-Nicolas Colbert
Jacques-Nicolas Colbert was a French churchman.Youngest son of Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert, he was educated for a career in the church, tutored by Noël Alexandre, a Dominican theologian and philosopher later condemned for his Jansenist views.The young Colbert was abbot at Le Bec-Hellouin before...

 was Archbishop of Rouen
Archbishop of Rouen
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Rouen is an Archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in France. As one of the fifteen Archbishops of France, the ecclesiastical province of the archdiocese comprises the majority of Normandy....

.
  • Six ships of the French Navy
    French Navy
    The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

     bore his name:
    • A steam corvette in 1848
    • A battleship in 1875
    • A cargo ship in 1914
    • A dundee in 1916
    • A French heavy cruiser
      French cruiser Colbert (1928)
      The Colbert was a French heavy cruiser of the Suffren class, that saw service in World War II. She was named for Jean Baptiste Colbert.Colbert was part of the 1st Light Division of the 1st Squadron in the Mediterranean, which also included Algérie and Dupleix...

      , launched 1928
    • A French missile cruiser, launched 1956

Quotes

  • "It is simply, and solely, the abundance of money within a state
    Sovereign state
    A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

     [which] makes the difference in its grandeur and power." (MH - p. 53)
  • "The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing"

Sources

  • Ames, Glenn J. Colbert, Mercantilism, and the French Quest for Asian Trade (1996)
  • Clément, Jean-Pierre. Vie de Colbert, (Paris, 1846) Etext
Lettres, instructions, et Memoires de Colbert, (nine volumes, Paris, 1861–82)
Histoire de Colbert et son administration, edited by Mademoiselle Clément, (Paris, 1874)
  • Gordault, Colbert, ministre de Louis XIV, (Tours, 1885)
  • Lavisse, Histoire de France, volume vii, part i, (Tours, 1905)
  • Sargent, Economic Policy of Colbert, (London, 1899), which contains a bibliography of works relating to Colbert and his time.

External links