Of Interest
Bastille Day

JULY 14, 1789 – BASTILLE DAY the turning point of the French Revolution

Jean-Baptiste Colbert  -  29 August 1619 – 6 September 1683) was a French politician who served as the Minister of Finances of France from 1661 to 1683 under the rule of King Louis XIV.

In January 1664 Colbert became the Superintendent of buildings; in 1665 he became Controller-General of Finances; in 1669, he became Secretary of State of the Navy; he also gained appointments as minister of commerce, of the colonies and of the palace. In short, Colbert acquired power in every department except that of war.

A great financial and fiscal reform at once claimed all of Colbert’s energies. Not only the nobility, but many others who had no legal claim to exemption, paid no taxes; the bulk of the burden fell on the wretched country-folk. Supported by the young king Louis XIV, Colbert aimed the first blow at the man accused of being the greatest of the royal embezzlers, the Superintendent of Finances, Nicolas Fouquet. Fouquet's fall simultaneously secured Colbert's own advancement.

One of Colbert’s most time enduring and famous quotes:

The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest [number] of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.

It is said that this warning to King Louis XIV and French royalty in general preceded the French Revolution by nearly 100 years to suggest that without more fair treatment of the peasants, ultimately the population may react.  Colbert’s efforts may have forestalled the rebellion for a time.