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date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the social and political structures of the absolute monarchy. It explores the extent to which tensions and conflicts in the mid-eighteenth century, in particular disputes between government and parlements, divided the elites over reform and policy, and opened up the realm of politics to public opinion. Reviewing the fate of major reform initiatives through the reigns of both Louis XV and his grandson Louis XVI, it argues that political crises paralysed the ability of royal institutions to enforce authority and generate consensus, thus making the transition from the old regime to the modern world necessary and inevitable.

Keywords: Absolute monarchy, kingship, government, court, politics and policies, parlements, reforms, Enlightenment, aristocracy and nobility, public opinion, Assembly of Notables

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