Louis XI declared in 1464 that ‘the conduct and police of the common weal of our kingdom … consists principally in justice’. A characteristic of the Ancien Regime state, in the view of modern historians, is its transformation from predominantly judicial institution (as an état de justice) to one primarily ordered for the raising of revenue (the état de finance), though both coexisted until 1789. In the course of the century from 1460 to 1560, the crown embarked on vast military operations which demanded the expansion of money resources, customarily called, following Quintus Curtius, ‘the sinews of war’.1 Did this mean the power and financial burden of the crown increased as a result? The function of the monarchy as an administrative system drawing the bulk of its resources from the taxation of a largely monetised society goes back to the decades around 1300, while the principle of extraordinary taxation was virtually established during the wars of the 1350s. This had, however, sustained a severe reverse as a result of the combined economic and political crises from the late fourteenth century onwards.2 With the recovery of the mid-fifteenth century, the taxation functions of the state revived.
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