Jean-Baptiste Colbert  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Jean-Baptiste Colbert (29 August 1619 – 6 September 1683) served as the French minister of finance from 1665 to 1683 under the rule of King Louis XIV. He was described by Mme de Sévigné as "Le Nord" (the north), because he was deemed cold and unemotional. His relentless hard work and thrift made him an esteemed minister. He achieved a reputation for his work of improving the state of French manufacturing and bringing the economy back from the brink of bankruptcy. Historians note that, despite Colbert's efforts, France actually became increasingly impoverished because of the King's excessive spending on wars. Colbert worked to create a favourable balance of trade and increase France's colonial holdings. Historians of mercantilism consider Colbert a key figure. Colbert's plan was to build a general academy.

Colbert's market reforms included the foundation of the Manufacture royale de glaces de miroirs in 1665 to supplant the importation of Venetian glass (forbidden in 1672, as soon as French glass manufacture was on a sound basis) and to encourage the technical expertise of Flemish cloth manufacturing in France. He also founded royal tapestry works at Gobelins and supported those at Beauvais. Colbert worked to improve the economy via tariffs and the construction of internal improvements. In regard to foreign markets, Colbert aimed to ensure that the French East India Company could obtain coffee, cotton, dyewoods, fur, pepper, and sugar. In addition, Colbert founded a French merchant marine.

Colbert issued more than 150 edicts to regulate the guilds. One such law had the intention of improving the quality of cloth. The edict declared that if the authorities found a merchant's cloth unsatisfactory on three separate occasions, they were to tie him to a post with the cloth attached to him.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Jean-Baptiste Colbert" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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