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date: 16 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In the maelstrom of ‘pre-revolutionary’ agitations, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the king and his ministers, to varying degrees, still thought and acted through 1788 and early 1789 as if their wishes and decisions were the determinants of political action. And indeed, to a certain extent, they were. This chapter explores the complex web of principle, prejudice and self-interest that continued to mark the conduct of old-regime governance up to, and beyond, the threshold of revolutionary change. As well as detailing a series of crucial decision points at which the monarchy could have offered alternative solutions to those it unsuccessfully chose, it also reflects on the extent to which the nature of those decisions can be fully understood, or must remain locked within the enigma that was the personality of Louis XVI.

Keywords: Louis XVI, Ministers, Necker, pre-revolution, notables, Estates-General, Third Estate, Bastille

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