Jean-Baptiste Colbert

Jean-Baptiste Colbert

Reims, Departement de la Marne, Champagne-Ardenne, France
Death 6 Sep 1683 (aged 64)
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Burial Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Memorial ID 1637 · View Source
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French Minister. Before the age of 20, Jean-Baptiste Colbert had a post in the French war office, as an inspector of troops. In 1649 he became the councilor of state, a political minister. In 1657, with inheritances and income from positions, he purchased the Barony of Seignelay. In 1652 he was asked to manage the affairs of Cardinal Mazarin (chief minister to the kings of France) while he was away. He attempted tax reform in a letter to Mazarin, showing that most of the taxes paid by the people were being embezzled by government officers. In 1661, Mazarin died and he ingratiated himself to the king by revealing the location of some of Mazarin's hidden wealth. In 1664 he became the Superintendent of buildings; in 1665 he became Controller-General of Finances; in 1669, he became Secretary of State of the Navy; he also gained appointments as minister of commerce, of the colonies and of the palace. France was at the time a nearly bankrupt nation, and he began reforms to try to improve the country’s finances. He accused a government financial officer of embezzling, leading to his removal from office, and the abolition of the position. With the closing of the position and of many other offices dependent upon it, the supreme control of the finances became vested in a royal council. Though he possessed only the title of intendant on the council, the king turned over control to him, and he effectively ruled it. Through this council he attempted to level taxation on different classes, denied false claims for tax exemption, and changed many taxes to indirect types, thus making them more difficult to avoid. He then began to work on the state of the nation’s commerce. New industries were founded, inventors were encouraged and supported, French workmen were prohibited from emigrating, and roads and canals were improved. He had the quality and measure of each article set by law. His market reforms included the foundation of factories to make glass products to replace imported glass, and to encourage cloth and tapestry manufacturing. He made changes to ensure that the French East India Company had access to foreign markets, so that they could obtain coffee, cotton, dyewoods, fur, pepper and sugar, and he founded the French merchant marine. He founded a number of institutions, such as the Academies of Inscriptions and Medals, of Sciences, of Architecture, the French Academy at Rome, and Academies at Arles, Soissons, and Nîmes, among others. He helped bring Italian architect-sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, to Paris, in order to design the East Facade of the Louvre and sculpt a marble portrait bust of Louis XIV. In 1673 he presided over an exhibition of the paintings, and he enriched the Louvre with hundreds of pictures and statues.

Bio by: Pete Mohney

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1637
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Jean-Baptiste Colbert (29 Aug 1619–6 Sep 1683), Find a Grave Memorial no. 1637, citing Saint Eustache Church, Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .