ABSTRACT

Ministers and middle-ranking servants of the Crown carried the reform impulse forward and it ebbed and flowed with their careers. Other more skeptical scholars have questioned the authenticity of monarchs commitment to Enlightenment; they emphasize the incompatibility between authoritarianism and enlightened values, and represent enlightened' reform as an extension of earlier strategies aimed at increasing the power of the state. Recent work has shown that reforms, once regarded as inspired by the philosophes were, in many cases, actually linked to more various constituencies. Certainly, strictures were placed on what it was permissible for members to discuss global issues of political economic reform, like recasting the fiscal system, were placed out of bounds. The goal of the reforms was to revivify moribund local authorities by making more positions subject to election. It is customary to assess the significance of the French monarchy's reforms in the late eighteenth century in terms of their failure to avert revolution in 1789.