In the pays d’états the central government had little direct control over many aspects of local administration, which were under the supervision of the Estates. Even in the pays d’élections the mayors and consuls of the towns had power to organise municipal government in a manner which Colbert found intolerable. Although these urban councils could not mount the sustained opposition to royal policy of the kind seen at the Estates, they were frequently more selfish, corrupt and inefficient, and their members showed less inclination to protect the interests of the people they represented. The problem of imposing order and discipline on the town councils was one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks attempted by Colbert, and success was far from universal. Often he could do no more than consider the needs of the state and the royal treasury, leaving the local population at the mercy of their exploiters.
KeywordsCentral Government Town Hall Municipal Official Town Council Municipal Administration
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