Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I
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Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume I contains original biographical profiles of many of the most important and influential economists from the seventeenth century to the present day. These inform the reader about their lives, works and impact on the further development of the discipline. The emphasis is on their lasting contributions to our understanding of the complex system known as the economy. The entries also shed light on the means and ways in which the functioning of this system can be improved and its dysfunction reduced. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.
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Chapter 3: Pierre Le Pesant de Boisguilbert (1646–1714)

Gilbert Faccarello


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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