Joseph Pâris-Duverney. Financier d’état (1684-1770)

Work published with the financial support of the CRCV.

Marc Cheynet de Beaupré, Joseph Pâris-Duverney. Financier d’état (1684-1770). tome II : La vertu des maîtresses royales (1720-1770), Paris: Honoré Champion, collection “Bibliothèque d’histoire moderne et contemporaine”, September 2016, 984 p., 15,5 x 23,5 cm, €120 (ISBN: 978-2-7453-3071-0).


In 1720, the four Pâris brothers – and most significantly the third one, Joseph Pâris-Duverney – were recalled from exile to supervise the liquidation of John Law’s system. For the following five years, they played an almost governmental role. This period is decisive in understanding the rise to power of the Pâris brothers, who began by supplying provisions to the armies, then consolidated their position with building projects, and finally strengthened it through a constant search to obtain the protection of princes and sovereigns using an unusual approach of systematically exploiting the influence of women close to the seat of power. These ranged from Mme de Maintenon to Queen Maria Leszczinska and the Marquise de Pompadour, and included Alexandrine de Tencin, Mme de Prie and the Duchess of Châteauroux. When the four brothers went their different ways in 1726, it was only for a short period, after which the two younger brothers, Duverney and Monmartel, came back to take centre stage where they would remain. From this date onwards, through the royal mistresses, Duverney reached the height of his power. He was initially appointed director and general administrator of food supplies, distinguishing himself in provisioning, and indeed the strategic management of the armies, and taking an active part in the economic and financial policies of the kingdom, before devoting most of his time to the École Militaire. Right up until his voluntary retirement, his influence continued to grow, supported at first by the Duchess of Châteauroux and later by the Marquise de Pompadour, the goddaughter of his brother Monmartel, who was the court banker.
Over and above the unusual life story, this career as financier and statesman can be considered as archetypal in that it forms a link between two generations in the final years of the French monarchy: the old world of finance and the new world of modern administrators that retained an element of capitalist culture but was more modern and more open to society as a whole.

Marc Cheynet de Beaupré, born in Lyon in 1963, has written several books on the economic and social history of the Ancien Régime. This book, analysing the system of power and the economic and political influence of the Pâris brothers, is taken from the second part of his doctoral thesis in History.

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