Louis XVI, 1774 -1792
Louis XVI, on his accession, inherited his grandfather’s debts and yet became a big spender too. The one billion livres he borrowed to pursue France’s part in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) represented a whole year’s national income. He raised the national debt from eight billion livres to over twelve billion and pushed France to the brink of bankruptcy.
But this impacted on the French king Henry II who tried not to follow suit, but he ended up defaulting in 1558. This cascaded right around Europe through to the 1560s.
Francis I had started a trend to seek out money now at the expense of long-term tax revenues. This tendency overlaid by corruption in public office meant that defaults became a regular feature.
The failure to win any of these wars on the part of the two kings coincided gave a boost to the thinking that had emerged from the Enlightenment, and to the Republican thinking that had gone in to the birthing of the USA.
More in 7 – The French Revolution, below,