Jean-Baptiste Colbert

Jean -Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay (* August 29, 1619 in Reims, † September 6, 1683 in Paris) was a French statesman and the founder of mercantilism ( Colbert ). He can be counted on the pre-classical economics. Under the " Sun King" Louis XIV, he was successful finance minister. He reorganized the state budget to fund the very high costs, especially for the king himself, the court, the military and its campaigns. Colbert created the basis of the French Economic and colonial policy.


Colbert came from a Rheims cloth merchant family. His first fiscal experience under Cardinal Jules Mazarin as his private asset managers. Mazarin recommended him also King Louis XIV, who entrusted him with more and more demanding fiscal challenges.

Mazarin died in March 1661, Nicolas Fouquet, the host of the famous festival at the castle of Vaux- le -Vicomte in August 1661 to become powerful for Louis XIV and was organized by Colbert, was arrested by d' Artagnan on September 5, 1661. The location of the surintendant des Finances was abolished and Colbert intendant des finances.

Increasingly took over Colbert, the government (only the king over him and the army were outside his control ): "Minister " of Construction ( Bâtiments du Roi, 1664), finance, trade, transport ( Contrôleur général des finances, 1665), Navy, the colonies ( Secrétaire d' État de la Marine, 1669) and for Art and Science ( Secretary of the Royal household, Secrétaire d' État de la Maison du roi, 1669).

In 1664 he founded the French East India Company based in Lorient and the French West India Company with Le Havre as a home port. He was also involved in the establishment and in the reorganization of the Nordic Company, the Levant Company and the Senegal Company.

In 1666 he founded the Académie royale des sciences natural sciences. He encouraged many scientists; the historian Étienne Baluze became his librarian.

In 1674 he founded the Caisse des Emprunts as deposit bank; this has already been closed again in 1709 due to insolvency.

The most important source of national wealth he saw in an active foreign trade balance. By promoting factories and founded, he tried to avoid costly imports of the country. He brought foreign specialists into the country in order to produce the best products of other States in France can. In addition, he was responsible for the reduction of export duties, leaving the country roads to expand solid causeways. With detailed catalogs with production rules he tried to improve the quality of goods produced in France.

Colbert also dealt with classical tax policy to increase government revenues and reduce the almost chronic debts of the Ancien Régime. He reformed government accounting and simplified by the tax authorities. Overall, he reduced the direct and increased indirect taxes. His success in this area, however, remained limited.

For the administration, he sat in each district a superintendent. In order to tap the resources of the colonies, he did reinforce the fleet and thus regarded as the true creator of the French naval power. Also, the Code Noir, a scheme to deal with black slaves, goes back to Colbert.

Colbert's last words were allegedly based on Ludwig: "If I had done as much as for this man of God, I should have saved ten times over. "

His eponymous eldest son succeeded him as Secretary of State for the Royal House and the Navy.