Royal Administration in a Frontier Province: the Intendancy of Alsace under Louis XIV

  • G. Livet


Besides the pays d’élection and pays d’état usually recognised by historians of French institutions, the Ancien Régime in France might be understood better if one also recognised a third category, the frontier provinces. At that time the frontier was not so much a dividing line — demarcated by fortresses and fortified lines — as a zone of contact; and because of conquest, and royal policy, these provinces show a strange mixture of old institutions and new administrative realities. Alsace is a good example of this kind of province, and a study of it will also be of interest for our knowledge of the comparative institutions of France and the Holy Roman Empire. The essential agent of royal power, the intendant of justice, police and finance, was introduced there in 1643, and it was around this new institution that the complex play of the forces of change and those of conservatism took place. This interplay determined the administrative and social evolution of the province between 1634 — the time of ‘the appeal of the towns to France’ — and 1714, when the wars which had gone on almost continuously along the Rhine throughout Louis XIV’s reign came to an end with the peace treaties of Rastadt and Baden.


Wide Breach Parish Priest Complex Play Absolute Monarchy Administrative Pressure 
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  1. 1.
    For a brief explanation of these interpretations see R. Hatton, Europe in the Age of Louis XIV (London, 1969) p. 92ff. and authorities there cited.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See my ‘Louis XIV et les provinces conquises. Etat des questions et remarques de méthode’, XVIIe Siècle (1952) 481–507, which defines the role of Flanders, Franche-Comté, Roussillon and the Lorraine bishoprics of Metz, Toul and Verdun in the French monarchy. See also: R. Dion, Les frontières de la France (Paris, 1947);Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Owen Lattimore, ‘The Frontier in History’, Relazioni of the International Congress of the Historical Sciences at Rome (1955) vol. i, pp. 103–38;Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    G. Zeller, Les Temps Modernes, i and ii, in ‘Histoire des relations internationales’, ed. P. Renouvin (Paris, 1953, 1955).Google Scholar

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© The Macmillan Press Ltd 1976

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  • G. Livet

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