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Between Crown and Commerce

Marseille and the Early Modern Mediterranean

Junko Thérèse Takeda

Publication Year: 2011

Between Crown and Commerce examines the relationship between French royal statecraft, mercantilism, and civic republicanism in the context of the globalizing economy of the early modern Mediterranean world. This is the story of how the French Crown and local institutions accommodated one another as they sought to forge acceptable political and commercial relationships with one another for the common goal of economic prosperity. Junko Thérèse Takeda tells this tale through the particular experience of Marseille, a port the monarchy saw as key to commercial expansion in the Mediterranean. At first, Marseille’s commercial and political elites were strongly opposed to the Crown’s encroaching influence. Rather than dismiss their concerns, the monarchy cleverly co-opted their civic traditions, practices, and institutions to convince the city’s elite of their important role in Levantine commerce. Chief among such traditions were local ideas of citizenship and civic virtue. As the city’s stature throughout the Mediterranean grew, however, so too did the dangers of commercial expansion as exemplified by the arrival of the bubonic plague. Marseille’s citizens reevaluated citizenship and merchant virtue during the epidemic, while the French monarchy's use of the crisis as an opportunity to further extend its power reanimated republican vocabulary. Between Crown and Commerce deftly combines a political and intellectual history of state-building, mercantilism, and republicanism with a cultural history of medical crisis. In doing so, the book highlights the conjoined history of broad transnational processes and local political change.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Series: The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science


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p. vii


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pp. ix-xi

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Introduction: Commerce, State-Building, and Republicanism in Old Regime France

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pp. 1-19

The early modern period saw two major transformations reshaping Europe: the gradual expansion of commercial society and the rise of the modern state. Historians often view these two developments as complementary and call them “mercantilism.” This book tells a different story. By exploring these processes in France from a local angle, it argues that absolute statecraft and commercial aggrandizement...

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1. Louis XIV, Marseillais Merchants, and the Problem of Discerning the Public Good

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pp. 20-49

Louis XIV’s conquest of their city in 1660 visually and politically introduced Marseillais to the French Crown’s methods of expanding its domestic and international power. Bourbon statecraft became synonymous with commercial expansion under Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who decided that France needed to extend its commerce as early as 1651. “Providence has placed France in a situation where ...

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2. Between Republic and Monarchy: Debating Commerce and Virtue

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pp. 50-77

From Colbert’s tenure as controller-general through the convocation of the Council of Commerce, methods for overseeing Marseillais merchants drew on the notion that they required royal guidance. Underlying this idea was the assumption that commerce was potentially beneficial to state and society but involved dangers: fluctuations in the market, physical and political threats...

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3. France and the Levantine Merchant: The Challenges of an International Market

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pp. 78-105

“Trade is a Pandora’s box,” the Marseille négociant and académicien Pierre-Augustin Guys protested in 1786.1 While royal administrators and aristocratic Marseillais historians provided positive evaluations of honorable and virtuous négociants, the traditional view that commerce fostered political and moral instability persisted through the eighteenth century, largely due to the transnational-...

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4. Plague, Commerce, and Centralized Disease Control in Early Modern France

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pp. 106-130

Most early modern Europeans would have concurred with the physician Jérôme-Jean Pestalozzi that “Oriental plague” was the sum of everything “most contrary to life.”1 During his tour of the Levant, the Aixois botanist Joseph de Tournefort noted how frequently plague ravaged the Ottoman Empire and that the Turks refused to implement preventative measures. Ignorance and fatalism doomed...

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5. Virtue Without Commerce: Civic Spirit During the Plague, 1720–1723

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pp. 131-157

Plague disrupted the activities that made a community a community. No commerce, no city. The physician Jean-Baptiste Bertrand, one of the few doctors who remained in Marseille through the epidemic, observed that the plague “dissolved society,” “severed all ties of blood and friendship, and halted trade.” “The churches, the exchange, and all public places were shut up,” he wrote; “the courts of justice...

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6. Civic Religiosity and Religious Citizenship in Plague-Stricken Marseille

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pp. 158-179

While civic leaders and physicians attributed plague to foreign yeasts and anti-social acts of self-indulgence, another group of elites— religious personnel— reactivated a traditional plague discourse of divine punishment. They preached that God was unhappy with Marseille, that Jansenist heresy within the Church and immorality among the wider population had provoked God’s anger. ...

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7. Postmortem: Virtue and Commerce Reconsidered

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pp. 180-196

Following the plague, Marseille convalesced from the temporary suspension of commerce and commercial civic spirit. Once trading resumed, exports from the Levant rose to pre-1715 levels at 15 million livres tournois. By 1726, Marseille recovered its status as France’s preeminent port for Levantine commerce. Trading stabilized until the mid 1730s, when a combination of famine and wars in the...


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pp. 197-223


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pp. 225-247


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pp. 249-258

E-ISBN-13: 9781421401126
E-ISBN-10: 1421401126
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801899829
Print-ISBN-10: 0801899826

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 13 halftones
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science
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OCLC Number: 794700345
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Between Crown and Commerce

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Subject Headings

  • Citizenship -- France -- Marseille -- History -- 18th century.
  • Plague -- France -- Marseille -- History -- 18th century.
  • France -- History -- Louis XV, 1715-1774.
  • Merchants -- France -- Marseille -- History -- 18th century.
  • Marseille (France) -- Commerce -- History -- 18th century.
  • Marseille (France) -- Commerce -- Mediterranean Region.
  • Marseille (France) -- Politics and government -- 18th century.
  • Marseille (France) -- Social conditions -- 18th century.
  • Mediterranean Region -- Commerce -- France -- Marseille.
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