Jean-Baptiste Colbert

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Jean-Baptiste Colbert (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ batist kolbɛʁ]; 29 August 1619 – 6 September 1683) was a French politician who served as the Controller-General of Finances of France from 1665 to 1683 under the rule of King Louis XIV. 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. 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 manufacturing industry was on sound footing) 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 develop the domestic economy by raising tariffs and by encouraging major public works projects. Colbert also worked to ensure that the French East India Company had access to foreign markets, so that they could always obtain coffee, cotton, dyewoods, fur, pepper, and sugar. In addition, Colbert founded the 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.


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