By: Casimir Stryienski (1853-1912)
This panoramic history of the last days of Bourbon France opens with the death of Louis XIV in 1715 and the minority of the ill-educated, Louis XV. The financial genius, John Law, precipitates a market bubble, with speculators frantic to buy and sell shares. The King, indolent and sensual, is content to leave the government to his cardinals and his mistresses. Meanwhile, France loses India and North America in the Seven Years' War. In 1774, Louis XVI succeeds his grandfather. Well-intentioned, but ineffectual, he falls under the sway of Marie-Antoinette and her favorites, so that when at last competent ministers are found to confront France's problems, it is too late.