Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 3: Pierre Le Pesant de Boisguilbert (1646–1714)
Pierre Le Pesant de Boisguilbert was born in Rouen (Normandy) on 17 February 1646, in a family of “noblesse de robe” – that is, an aristocratic family which got its rank from holding certain judicial or administrative positions – and died there on 10 October 1714. A distant relative of the playwright Pierre Corneille (1606–1684) and of the homme de lettres Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle (1657–1757), he was first educated by the Jesuits in Rouen and then in the Jansenist Petites Écoles de Port-Royal near Paris. After studying law in Paris, he held various “charges” or “offices” in Normandy in the Ancien Régime administration of justice and police where he acquired the deserved reputation of being a passionate and bad-tempered person. Like many contemporaries he was struck by the deep and lasting economic and social distress which prevailed in France during the second half of the reign of Louis XIV (1638–1715). Also like many other “men of system” and pamphleteers of the age, he tried to remedy the situation and he proposed, with a remarkable insistence, his solution to the various Contrôleurs généraux des finances (Ministers of the economy and finance), L. Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain (from 1689 to 1699), M. Chamillart (from 1699 to 1708) and N. Desmarets (from 1708 onwards). He remained however unsuccessful in spite of the support of some influential persons like J.-B. Desmarets de Vaubourg – a nephew of Colbert – and the Duke of Saint-Simon (see Hecht 1966b). The precise...
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