The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Boisguilbert, Pierre le Pesant, Sieur de (1645–1714)

  • Peter Groenewegen
Reference work entry


French economist and lawyer. Born at Rouen into a noblesse de robe family, Boisguilbert was educated at a Jesuit college in Rouen, the city where he spent most of his life and where he died in 1714. The famous Port Royal and the Paris law school trained him as an avocat but initially inspired a literary career. This produced translations from the Greek (Dion Cassius and Herodotus) and some historical novels, one of which, Marie Stuart, Reyne d’Ecosse (1675) went through three editions. Marriage to a rich heiress in 1677 allowed him to pursue profitable activities in trade and agriculture for several years and enter the magistrature of Normandy. Such experiences brought home to him the deteriorating French economic position and the need to reverse this through fiscal and economic reform. His first economic work, Le détail de la France (1695) reflects these concerns. For the remainder of his life he unsuccessfully pressed plans for fiscal reform on various finance ministers, ultimately republishing his ideas, including the new Factum de la France, in various collected editions from 1707 (a detailed biography and bibliography is in Boisguilbert, 1966).


Boisguilbert, P. Cantillon, R. Circular flow Colbert, J.-B. Equilibrium trade models Hoarding Physiocracy Proportional income tax Tax farming Underconsumptionism 

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  1. Cantillon, R. 1755. Essai sur la nature du commerce en général. London: Fletcher Gyles. Reprinted with an English translation and other material by Henry Higgs, London, for the Royal Economic Society, 1931.Google Scholar
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  3. Roberts, H. Van Dyke. 1935. Boisguilbert, economist of the reign of Louis XIV. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Spengler, J.J. 1984. Boisguilbert’s economic views vis-à-vis those of contemporary réformateurs. History of Political Economy 16: 69–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Groenewegen
    • 1
  1. 1.