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18th Century France

... France's unwieldy administration, a patchwork of provinces, municipalities, judicial territories and bishoprics... had grown steadily more complicated and arcane. Nothing, in fact, was more bewildering than the absurd array of taxes, both direct and indirect, shot through with anomalies, and from which the nobility and clergy were largely exempt. p. 10
In 1764, Voltaire wrote that he regretted that he would not be alive to witness 'a revolution that cannot fail to happen'. Rousseau... believed the royal families of Europe... did not have much time left on their thrones. 'They have all shone brightly, and every state that shines so brightly is on its path to decline ... We are approaching a moment of crisis and a century of revolutions.' But that was in the 1760s, and neither Versailles nor the court was listening.... p. 19
- Caroline Moorhead, Dancing to the Precipice, HarperCollins, 2009


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