Define the term “Mercantilism”. What are its salient features? Ans : – Mercantilism is an economic theory, thought to be a form of economic nationalism, that holds that the prosperity of a nation is dependent upon its supply of capital, and that the global volume of international trade is “unchangeable”. Economic assets (or capital) are represented by bullion (gold, silver, and trade value) held by the state, which is best increased through a positive and healthy balance of trade with other nations (exports minus imports).
The theory assumes that wealth and monetary assets are identical. Mercantilism suggests that the ruling government should advance these goals by playing a protectionist role in the economy by encouraging exports and discouraging imports, notably through the use of subsidies and tariffs respectively. The theory dominated Western European economic policies from the 16th to the late-18th century.  Mercantilism was the dominant school of thought in Europe throughout the late Renaissance and early modern period (from the 15th-18th century).
Mercantilism encouraged the many intra-European wars of the period and arguably fueled European expansion and imperialism — both in Europe and throughout the rest of the world — until the 19th century or early 20th century. Arguments have been made[by whom? ] for the historical promotion of mercantilism in Europe since recorded history, with authors noting the trade policies of Athens and its Delian League specifically mention[clarification needed] control of value of trade in bullion as necessary for the promotion of the Greek polis.
Additionally, the noted competition of medieval monarchs for control of the market town trade and of the spice trade, as well as the copious documentation of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa regarding control of the Mediterranean trade of bullion clearly points to an early understanding of mercantilistic principles. However, as a codified school, mercantilism’s real birth is marked by the Empiricism of the Renaissance, which first began to qualify large-scale trade accurately.
Most of the European economists who wrote between 1500 and 1750 are today generally considered mercantilists; this term was initially used solely by critics, such as Mirabeau and Smith, but was quickly adopted by historians. Originally the standard English term was “mercantile system”. The word “mercantilism” was introduced into English from German in the early 19th century. Salient features of Mercantilsim.
The Austrian lawyer and scholar Philipp Wilhelm von Hornick, in his Austria Over All, If She Only Will of 1684, detailed a nine-point program of what he deemed effective national economy, which sums up the tenets of mercantilism comprehensively: * That every inch of a country’s soil be utilized for agriculture, mining or manufacturing. * That all raw materials found in a country be used in domestic manufacture, since finished goods have a higher value than raw materials. * That a large, working population be encouraged. * That all export of gold and silver be prohibited and all domestic money be kept in circulation. That all imports of foreign goods be discouraged as much as possible. * That where certain imports are indispensable they be obtained at first hand, in exchange for other domestic goods instead of gold and silver. * That as much as possible, imports be confined to raw materials that can be finished [in the home country]. * That opportunities be constantly sought for selling a country’s surplus manufactures to foreigners, so far as necessary, for gold and silver. * That no importation be allowed if such goods are sufficiently and suitably supplied at home.
How Far was the French Monarchy responsible for the French Revolution of 1789? Ans: – Feudalism and Unfair Taxation No one factor was directly responsible for the French Revolution. Years of feudal oppression and fiscal mismanagement contributed to a French society that was ripe for revolt. Noting a downward economic spiral in the late 1700s, King Louis XVI brought in a number of financial advisors to review the weakened French treasury. Each advisor reached the same conclusion—that France needed a radical change in the way it taxed the public—and each advisor was, in turn, kicked out.
Finally, the king realized that this taxation problem really did need to be addressed, so he appointed a new controller general of finance, Charles de Calonne, in 1783. Calonne suggested that, among other things, France begin taxing the previously exempt nobility. The nobility refused, even after Calonne pleaded with them during the Assembly of Notables in 1787. Financial ruin thus seemed imminent. The Estates-General In a final act of desperation, Louis XVI decided in 1789 to convene the Estates-General, an ancient assembly consisting of three different estates that each represented a portion of the French population.
If the Estates-General could agree on a tax solution, it would be implemented. However, since two of the three estates—the clergy and the nobility—were tax-exempt, the attainment of any such solution was unlikely. Moreover, the outdated rules of order for the Estates-General gave each estate a single vote, despite the fact that the Third Estate—consisting of the general French public—was many times larger than either of the first two. Feuds quickly broke out over this disparity and would prove to be irreconcilable.
Realizing that its numbers gave it an automatic advantage, the Third Estate declared itself the sovereign National Assembly. Within days of the announcement, many members of the other two estates had switched allegiances over to this revolutionary new assembly. The Bastille and the Great Fear Shortly after the National Assembly formed, its members took the Tennis Court Oath, swearing that they would not relent in their efforts until a new constitution had been agreed upon. The National Assembly’s revolutionary spirit galvanized France, manifesting in a number of different ways.
In Paris, citizens stormed the city’s largest prison, the Bastille, in pursuit of arms. In the countryside, peasants and farmers revolted against their feudal contracts by attacking the manors and estates of their landlords. Dubbed the “Great Fear,” these rural attacks continued until the early August issuing of the August Decrees, which freed those peasants from their oppressive contracts. Shortly thereafter, the assembly released the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which established a proper judicial code and the autonomy of the French people. Rifts in the Assembly
Though the National Assembly did succeed in drafting a constitution, the relative peace of the moment was short-lived. A rift slowly grew between the radical and moderate assembly members, while the common laborers and workers began to feel overlooked. When Louis XVI was caught in a foiled escape plot, the assembly became especially divided. The moderate Girondins took a stance in favor of retaining the constitutional monarchy, while the radical Jacobins wanted the king completely out of the picture. Outside of France, some neighboring countries feared that France’s revolutionary spirit would spread beyond French land.
In response, they issued the Declaration of Pillnitz, which insisted that the French return Louis XVI to the throne. French leaders interpreted the declaration as hostile, so the Girondin-led assembly declared war on Austria and Prussia. The Reign of Terror The first acts of the newly named National Convention were the abolition of the monarchy and the declaration of France as a republic. In January 1793, the convention tried and executed Louis XVI on the grounds of treason. Despite the creation of the Committee of Public Safety, the war with Austria and Prussia went poorly for France, and foreign forces pressed on into French territory.
Enraged citizens overthrew the Girondin-led National Convention, and the Jacobins, led by Maximilien Robespierre, took control. Backed by the newly approved Constitution of 1793, Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety began conscripting French soldiers and implementing laws to stabilize the economy. For a time, it seemed that France’s fortunes might be changing. But Robespierre, growing increasingly paranoid about counterrevolutionary influences, embarked upon a Reign of Terror in late 1793–1794, during which he had more than 15,000 people executed at the guillotine.
When the French army successfully removed foreign invaders and the economy finally stabilized, however, Robespierre no longer had any justification for his extreme actions, and he himself was arrested in July 1794 and executed. The Thermidorian Reaction and the Directory The era following the ousting of Robespierre was known as the Thermidorian Reaction, and a period of governmental restructuring began, leading to the new Constitution of 1795 and a significantly more conservative National Convention. To control executive responsibilities and appointments, a group known as the Directory was formed.
Though it had no legislative abilities, the Directory’s abuse of power soon came to rival that of any of the tyrannous revolutionaries France had faced. Napoleon Meanwhile, the Committee of Public Safety’s war effort was realizing unimaginable success. French armies, especially those led by young general Napoleon Bonaparte, were making progress in nearly every direction. Napoleon’s forces drove through Italy and reached as far as Egypt before facing a deflating defeat. In the face of this rout, and having received word of political upheavals in France, Napoleon returned to Paris.
He arrived in time to lead a coup against the Directory in 1799, eventually stepping up and naming himself “first consul”—effectively, the leader of France. With Napoleon at the helm, the Revolution ended, and France entered a fifteen-year period of military rule. Napoleon Bonaparte A general in the French army and leader of the 1799 coup that overthrew the Directory. Napoleon’s accession marked the end of the French Revolution and the beginning of Napoleonic France and Europe. Jacques-Pierre Brissot
A member of the Legislative Assembly and National Convention who held a moderate stance and believed in the idea of a constitutional monarchy. Brissot’s followers, initially known simply as Brissotins, eventually became known more generally as the Girondins. After unsuccessfully declaring war on Austria and Prussia, Brissot was removed from the National Convention and, like many Girondin leaders, lost his life at the guillotine during the Reign of Terror in 1793–1794. Charles de Calonne The controller general of finance appointed by King Louis XVI after Jacques Necker was forced out of office in 1781.
Calonne proposed a daring plan to shift the French tax burden from the poor to wealthy nobles and businessmen, suggesting a tax on land proportional to land values and a lessened tax burden for peasants. The French nobility, however, refused to pay these taxes. Lazare Carnot A French soldier appointed by the Committee of Public Safety to help reorganize the failing war effort against Austria and Prussia. Carnot did so very effectively and made enough of a name for himself to earn a seat as one of the first members of the Directory.
Although he was removed from this position during the overthrow of September 4, 1797, he went on to hold various posts in future governments. Marquis de Lafayette A liberal nobleman who led French forces assisting in the American Revolution. The common people of France revered Lafayette as an idealistic man who was dedicated to liberty and the principles of the Revolution. Although Lafayette organized the National Guard of armed citizens to protect the Revolution from attack by the king, he balked as the Revolution became more radical. Louis XVI
The French king from 1774 to 1792 who was deposed during the French Revolution and executed in 1793. Louis XVI inherited the debt problem left by his grandfather, Louis XV, and added to the crisis himself through heavy spending during France’s involvement in the American Revolution from 1775 to 1783. Because this massive debt overwhelmed all of his financial consultants, Louis XVI was forced to give in to the demands of the Parlement of Paris and convene the Estates-General—an action that led directly to the outbreak of the Revolution. Louis XVI was deposed in 1792 and executed a year later.
Marie-Antoinette The wife of King Louis XVI and, in the French commoners’ eyes, the primary symbol of the French royalty’s extravagance and excess. When Marie-Antoinette was executed in 1793, she was dressed in a plain dress, common to the poorest in French society. Jacques Necker A Swiss-born banker who served as France’s director general of finance in the late 1770s, with high hopes of instituting reform. As it turned out, Necker was able only to propose small efforts at eliminating costly inefficiencies. He did produce a government budget, however, for the first time in French history.
Maximilien Robespierre A brilliant political tactician and leader of the radical Jacobins in the National Assembly. As chairman of the Committee of Public Safety, Robespierre pursued a planned economy and vigorous mobilization for war. He grew increasingly paranoid about counterrevolutionary opposition, however, and during the Reign of Terror of 1793–1794 attempted to silence all enemies of the Revolution in an effort to save France from invasion. After the moderates regained power and the Thermidorian Reaction was under way, they had Robespierre executed on July 28, 1794.
Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyes A liberal member of the clergy, supporter of the Third Estate, and author of the fiery 1789 pamphlet “What Is the Third Estate? ” Sieyes was one of the primary leaders of the Third Estate’s effort at political and economic reform in France. A series of decrees issued by the National Assembly in August 1789 that successfully suppressed the Great Fear by releasing all peasants from feudal contracts. Bastille A large armory and state prison in the center of Paris that a mob of sans-culottes sacked on July 14, 1789, giving the masses arms for insurrection.
The storming of the Bastille had little practical consequence, but it was an enormous symbolic act against the ancien regime, inspired the revolutionaries, and is still celebrated today as the French holiday Bastille Day. Bourgeoisie The middle and upper classes of French society who, as members of the Third Estate, wanted an end to the principle of privilege that governed French society in the late 1700s. The bourgeoisie represented the moderate voices during the French Revolution and were represented by delegates in both the Estates-General and the National Assembly.
Civil Constitution of the Clergy A document, issued by the National Assembly in July 1790, that broke ties with the Catholic Church and established a national church system in France with a process for the election of regional bishops. The document angered the pope and church officials and turned many French Catholics against the revolutionaries. Committee of Public Safety A body, chaired by Maximilien Robespierre, to which the National Convention gave dictatorial powers in April 1793 in an attempt to deal with France’s wars abroad and economic problems at home.
Although the committee led off its tenure with an impressive war effort and economy-salvaging initiatives, things took a turn for the worse when Robespierre began his violent Reign of Terror in late 1793. Constitution of 1791 The new French constitution that in 1791 established a constitutional monarchy, or limited monarchy, with all executive power answerable to a legislative assembly. Under the new constitution, King Louis XVI could only temporarily veto legislation passed by the assembly. The constitution restricted voting in the assembly to the upper and middle classes of French society and abolished “nobility” as a legal order.
Declaration of Pillnitz An August 27, 1791, warning from Prussia and Austria announcing that they would intervene militarily in France if any harm came to King Louis XVI, who had just been captured trying to escape with his family from Paris. The declaration prompted then–Legislative Assembly leader Jacques-Pierre Brissot to declare war on Austria and Prussia. Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen A document, issued by the National Assembly on August 26, 1789, that granted sovereignty to all French people.
The declaration, which drew from the ideas of some of the Enlightenment’s greatest thinkers, asserted that liberty is a “natural” and “imprescriptible” right of man and that “men are born and remain free and equal in rights. ” Directory The new executive branch established by the constitution written during the moderate Thermidorian Reaction of 1794–1795. The Directory was appointed by the legislative assembly. However, after 1797 election results proved unfavorable to elements in the Directory, it orchestrated an overthrow of the assembly and maintained dubious control over France until it was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799.
Estates-General A medieval representative institution in France that had not met for 175 years before King Louis XVI reconvened it on May 5, 1789, to deal with the looming financial crisis. Consisting of three estates—the clergy, nobility, and commoners, respectively—the Estates-General was the only group that would be able to force the assorted French parlements into accepting the controller general of finance Charles de Calonne’s tax decrees. Girondins The name given to the moderates in the National Convention.
The Girondins controlled the legislative assembly until 1793, when, with the war going poorly and food shortages hurting French peasants, the Jacobins ousted them from power. Great Fear A period in July and August 1789 during which rural peasants revolted against their feudal landlords and wreaked havoc in the French countryside. Jacobins The radical wing of representatives in the National Convention, named for their secret meeting place in the Jacobin Club, in an abandoned Paris monastery.
Led by Maximilien Robespierre, the Jacobins called for democratic solutions to France’s problems and spoke for the urban poor and French peasantry. The Jacobins took control of the convention, and France itself, from 1793 to 1794. As Robespierre became increasingly concerned with counterrevolutionary threats, he instituted a brutal period of public executions known as the Reign of Terror. Limited Monarchy Also known as constitutional monarchy, a system of government in which a king or queen reigns as head of state but with power that is limited by real power lying in a legislature and an independent court system. Monarchy
The form of government, common to most European countries at the time of the French Revolution, in which one king or queen, from a designated royal dynasty, holds control over policy and has the final say on all such matters. In France, the Bourbon family held the monarchy, with Louis XVI as king at the time of the Revolution. National Assembly The name given to the Third Estate after it separated from the Estates-General in 1789. As a body, the National Assembly claimed to legitimately represent the French population. The assembly dissolved in 1791 so that new elections could take place under the new constitution.
National Convention The body that replaced the Legislative Assembly following a successful election in 1792. As one of its first actions, the convention declared the French monarchy abolished on September 21, 1792, and on the following day declared France a republic. Though originally dominated by moderates, the convention became controlled by radical Jacobins in 1793. Parlements A set of thirteen provincial judicial boards—one based in Paris and the other twelve in major provincial cities—that constituted the independent judiciary of France.
The parlements held the power of recording royal decrees, meaning that if a parlement refused to record an edict, the edict would never be implemented in that district. Reign of Terror A ten-month period of oppression and execution from late 1793 to mid-1794, organized by Maximilien Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety to suppress any potential enemies of the radical Revolution. The Reign of Terror ended with the fall of Robespierre, who was arrested and executed in July 1794.
Robespierre’s execution ushered in the Thermidorian Reaction of 1794–1795 and the establishment of the Directory as the head of France’s executive government. Sans-culottes Urban workers and peasants, whose name—literally, “without culottes,” the knee-breeches that the privileged wore—signified their wish to distinguish themselves from the high classes. The mob mentality of the sans-culottes constituted the most radical element of the Revolution. Tennis Court Oath A June 20, 1789, oath sworn by members of the Third Estate who had just formed the National Assembly and were locked out of the meeting of the Estates-General.
Meeting at a nearby tennis court, these members of the Third Estate pledged to remain together until they had drafted and passed a new constitution. Thermidorian Reaction The post–Reign of Terror period ushered in by the execution of Maximilien Robespierre in July 1794 and the reassertion of moderate power over the French Revolution. The Thermidorian Reaction brought the Revolution’s focus back to the first stage of moderate changes designed to benefit the business classes of French society. Third Estate One of the three estates in the Estates-General, consisting of the commoners of France, whether rich merchants or poor peasants.
Despite the fact that it constituted the vast majority of the French population, the Third Estate had just one vote in the Estates-General—the same vote that the much smaller First Estate (clergy) and Second Estate (nobility) each had. Frustrated with its political impotence, the Third Estate broke from the Estates-General on June 17, 1789, and declared itself the National Assembly. Tuileries The palace in Paris in which King Louis XVI and his family were placed under house arrest after they were forcibly taken from their court at Versailles.
The point of removing the royal family to Paris was to allow the people to keep a close watch on their actions. Versailles The royal palace built by King Louis XIV a few miles outside of Paris. Known for its extraordinary splendor, extravagance, and immense size, Versailles was the home of the king, queen, and all members of the royal family, along with high government officials and select nobles. On October 5, 1789, a mob of angry and hungry French women marched on Versailles, bringing the royal family back to Paris to deal with the food shortage.