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Financing a New Order: The Payment of Reparations by Restoration France, 1817-1818

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-400
Number of pages25
JournalFrench History
Issue number3
Early online date20 Aug 2016
Accepted/In press20 Aug 2016
E-pub ahead of print20 Aug 2016
Published30 Sep 2016

King's Authors


The French lost the Napoleonic wars, but they won the peace, for themselves and for Europe more generally, when they fulfilled the terms imposed by the victorious allies. To raise the money required to meet these obligations, the French resorted to borrowing, floating loans that were foundational in the history of French public debt. Despite their importance, these loans have received little recent attention. This article draws on previously unused documents to provide a fuller picture of the negotiations that produced the loans of 1817–18. More particularly, it suggests that, contrary to a widespread perception, the loans were financed largely with French capital. Furthermore, it argues that historians have exaggerated the importance of Gabriel-Julien Ouvrard, the French government’s intermediary with the issuing firms, in facilitating the loan negotiations. Given the consequences of the loans, the negotiations that produced them deserve more extensive consideration than they have hitherto received.

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