Examining the imposition of direct royal control over French army administration after the Seven Years’ War, this article argues that this centralizing reform sought not only to modernize a key state institution, but also to bolster the nobility’s traditional claims to preeminence within the profession of arms. By relieving officers of the personal financial burden of maintaining their companies, the reform paved the way for a new approach to professionalism based on the recruitment of officers exclusively from the military nobility. Permitting the royal government to select officers without regard to their financial capacity, the reform ultimately made possible the socially divisive genealogical policies of the Ségur ministry. In the case of the centralization of military administration, a modern-looking measure of rationalization also bolstered noble privilege.


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pp. 223-246
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2004
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