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Playtest #1: Revolutionary France


vcczar

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The following are the issues facing King Louis XVI and his government on January 1, 1789. These issues have been lingering with no solution in sight for almost a decade.:

Issues Facing the French Government in 1789
Frequent recessions
Frequent bad harvests
Debt crisis because of excessive loans for war and expenditure
A nation not adapting quick enough to accelerating urban growth
High unemployment because of poor economy, industrialization, and urbanization
Wages for laborers and poor farmers plummeting
Both bread prices and cost of living soaring; malnutrition is rampant in some areas
Nobility & clergy make up 5% of the population and have a virtual monopoly on power and a near-monopoly on wealth
Powerless middle class is growing to 10%, mostly because of urbanization
Peasants and poor make up 80% with almost no chance of upward mobility
Inconsistent tax rates throughout France and inconsistent collection of taxation b/c complex tax system
Tax farmers collect most of the tax, and they often keep some of it for personal profit
Military expenditures exceeds revenue
State pensions exceeds revenue
Corrupt clergy, many who are non-religious aristocrats or nobles
Corrupt nobility, many who don't contribute to society
Tax exemptions of nobility put burden of taxation on the peasants
Tax exemptions of clergy put burden of taxation on the peasants
Flaws in tax system leads to inefficient tax system for middle class, depriving revenue
tax laws required approval from regional parlements who opposed tax reform
King could rule by decree but regional parlements and noble class oppose reform on tax
Half of revenue going to paying off debt
Calonne's universal land tax rejected
Calonne's abolition of grain controls instituted
Calonne's abolition of internal tariffs instituted
Difficulty getting new loans because can't pay back existing loans
Regional parlements are hostile to the King's government
Censorship and laws on political clubs have been relaxed, but this is leading to worrying political activism among the growing, middle class
Middle class and intellectuals, religious or not, are critical of the Catholic Church and organized religion in France
Rural peasants, especially in the West are often conservative and very religious and opposed to reform, even if in their best interest
Regional parlements are more popular than the King's government
King has recently caved and doubled the representation of the 3rd estate, upsetting the nobility and clergy, but upsetting the 3rd estate has that vote was not decreed as a vote by head, making it pointless.
Under the laws of the Estates-General each estate gets 1 vote (majority carries) and the first two are natural allies, overruling the 3rd
Estates-General has not met in 175 years
Absolute monarch
Enlightenment principles at odds with the 1st and 2nd estates
Peasant, laborerers, and unemployed, are not really represented by 3rd estate, who are mostly intellectuals, lawyers, and the rare wealthy middle class
Hated royal corvee on peasants, a tax in the form of forced labor (forced military service, farm work, maintaining the roads)
Slavery is still legal, but mostly in the carribean
Feudalism is still extant in France
Women cannot hold office and have almost no rights
Jews and other openly non-Catholics cannot hold office
Protestants cannot hold office
Military officers and ministers are selected almost exclusively from the nobility
The hated gabelle tax on salt
The hated taille tax, a direct land tax on peasants and other-non-nobles
The hated tithe tax, a heavy tax that goes directly to the Church
The hated aide tax on wine
The hated vingtieme tax, a 5% tax on all incomes, with exemptions and loopholes for the nobility and clergy only
The hated capitation tax, a poll tax
Maritime trade and the oceans dominated by rival UK, restricting trade
Expensive, difficult to mantain overseas colonies
A growing 28 million population, the largest population in Europe

Just for fun, I'm a little curious how you all would work to resolve these if you were King Louis XVI for one year. Keep in mind that the clergy and nobility and regional parlements (equiv to state legislatures) are hostile to change. You're two brothers (future Louis XVIII and Charles X) are also hostile to change, and would easily get the backing from nobles to replace Louis if they feel threatened. Traditionally, Louis was sympathetic to the people (whereas his Queen is notoriously not) but was too ignorant of the common people (esp. peasants) to be truly empathetic. Considering the list above and the factors against the King was he in a no win situation for himself or for the people? @OrangeP47 @Blockmon @Ich_bin_Tyler @Arkansas Progressive @ConservativeElector2 @Euri @10centjimmy @matthewyoung123 @WVProgressive

 

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Honestly, while part of me wants to be cliche and say "I don't believe in no win scenarios", the fact of the matter is they do exist.  The proper question then becomes "at what point" does that become inevitable.  I often like to think of timelines akin to falling into a black hole.  The event horizon of a black hole isn't a physical location, it's simply where all your possible futures lead to to the singularity.  Where was the French Revolution's event horizon, and are we past it at this point?  I don't have the answer, but I find this is a helpful perspective to think in terms of.

As for actual practical advice, all I can offer is that tax reform is a must, and it likely must come with structural reform.  I'm not sure how realistic a shot it has of happening or how palatable it would be to Louis directly, but the one thing I can think of when put on the spot like this that might save Royalist France is decentralization.  The nobles want power?  Well maybe they'll be more agreeable to the monarch if you give them some, on the condition they actually offer you some substantial support instead of just being obstinate.  Now, this is easier said than done, of course.  Done too recklessly and you're basically just consigning yourself to irrevelency or worse, but if you can play the nobles/clergy off one another, and do it at a suitably slow pace, you may, just maybe pull it off.  The goal of this newfound leeway with the 1st and 2nd estates is then to ease tensions with the 3rd.  Additionally, some way of gaining personal popularity may be required, a cult of personality if you will.  In other circumstances, a war might be good, plunder, conquest, glory (in this era), but with the budget strained, alternatives might have to be sought.  Right now I'm drawing a blank, but maybe something could be arranged.

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46 minutes ago, OrangeP47 said:

Honestly, while part of me wants to be cliche and say "I don't believe in no win scenarios", the fact of the matter is they do exist.  The proper question then becomes "at what point" does that become inevitable.  I often like to think of timelines akin to falling into a black hole.  The event horizon of a black hole isn't a physical location, it's simply where all your possible futures lead to to the singularity.  Where was the French Revolution's event horizon, and are we past it at this point?  I don't have the answer, but I find this is a helpful perspective to think in terms of.

As for actual practical advice, all I can offer is that tax reform is a must, and it likely must come with structural reform.  I'm not sure how realistic a shot it has of happening or how palatable it would be to Louis directly, but the one thing I can think of when put on the spot like this that might save Royalist France is decentralization.  The nobles want power?  Well maybe they'll be more agreeable to the monarch if you give them some, on the condition they actually offer you some substantial support instead of just being obstinate.  Now, this is easier said than done, of course.  Done too recklessly and you're basically just consigning yourself to irrevelency or worse, but if you can play the nobles/clergy off one another, and do it at a suitably slow pace, you may, just maybe pull it off.  The goal of this newfound leeway with the 1st and 2nd estates is then to ease tensions with the 3rd.  Additionally, some way of gaining personal popularity may be required, a cult of personality if you will.  In other circumstances, a war might be good, plunder, conquest, glory (in this era), but with the budget strained, alternatives might have to be sought.  Right now I'm drawing a blank, but maybe something could be arranged.

The one thing I notice in crises like this is when a leader relinquishes power for something well-intended, those that get the new power abuse it, often forcing out the well-intentioned leader. This is probably the prime example. Others are Gorbachev and George III, both relinquished power and got bit. For George III, it was him trying to make some concessions by retracting some harsh bill he had instituted. Other examples exist. 

I think by Jan 1, 1789, Louis's best hope is survival. If he wants to stay King of France, he'd have to basically cave completely to the 3rd estate, probably after the National Guard is formed that could protect him. I think this creates a civil war between Bourbons, but he might survive that if the people are on his side. However, realistically, he'd never think to do that. His other option is escaping France before the Revolution spreads outside Paris. His best bet is probably to refuse to join the women's march back to Paris, and instead escape the palace and leave France at that time. After this date, it becomes almost impossible for him to leave. His other option, more risky, is to not abscond during the "Flight to Varennes" and just stay put in Paris. However, I think he still gets killed as alleged plots or real plot emerge trying to "save" him. Maybe abdicating in favor of the new government was the only way to go, but he probably still gets killed if one of his brothers tries ot retake the throne. He'd have to disinherit all potential heirs and then disband the monarchy. He'd have to stay in Paris to avoid seemingly like he's plotting. He'd have to be at the mercy of the legislature. 

I think he's doomed by Jan 1 1789, but maybe this playtest will show a way for him. 

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2 minutes ago, vcczar said:

The one thing I notice in crises like this is when a leader relinquishes power for something well-intended, those that get the new power abuse it, often forcing out the well-intentioned leader. This is probably the prime example. Others are Gorbachev and George III, both relinquished power and got bit. For George III, it was him trying to make some concessions by retracting some harsh bill he had instituted. Other examples exist. 

I think by Jan 1, 1789, Louis's best hope is survival. If he wants to stay King of France, he'd have to basically cave completely to the 3rd estate, probably after the National Guard is formed that could protect him. I think this creates a civil war between Bourbons, but he might survive that if the people are on his side. However, realistically, he'd never think to do that. His other option is escaping France before the Revolution spreads outside Paris. His best bet is probably to refuse to join the women's march back to Paris, and instead escape the palace and leave France at that time. After this date, it becomes almost impossible for him to leave. His other option, more risky, is to not abscond during the "Flight to Varennes" and just stay put in Paris. However, I think he still gets killed as alleged plots or real plot emerge trying to "save" him. Maybe abdicating in favor of the new government was the only way to go, but he probably still gets killed if one of his brothers tries ot retake the throne. He'd have to disinherit all potential heirs and then disband the monarchy. He'd have to stay in Paris to avoid seemingly like he's plotting. He'd have to be at the mercy of the legislature. 

I think he's doomed by Jan 1 1789, but maybe this playtest will show a way for him. 

I didn't elaborate, but here's actually what I was thinking:  To use a very French Revolution term, you let the 1st and 2nd Estates hoist themselves by their own petard.  They want to run things? Let them.... specifically.... let them fail... then the 3rd Estate will blame them.  Now, I do acknowledge, this is a very tricky, very dangerous line to take, but what I'm basically proposing is what if Louis XVI can shift the blame for France's ills from himself onto the nobility/clergy?  Again, I acknowledge this is probably very difficult, because honestly the nobility/clergy are doing this exact strategy in reverse, and have a head start.  That's why I know it'll work, though, because it did work, it just worked in reverse.  Or rather, it worked right up until the point where it blew up in *everyone's* faces.

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1 minute ago, OrangeP47 said:

I didn't elaborate, but here's actually what I was thinking:  To use a very French Revolution term, you let the 1st and 2nd Estates hoist themselves by their own petard.  They want to run things? Let them.... specifically.... let them fail... then the 3rd Estate will blame them.  Now, I do acknowledge, this is a very tricky, very dangerous line to take, but what I'm basically proposing is what if Louis XVI can shift the blame for France's ills from himself onto the nobility/clergy?  Again, I acknowledge this is probably very difficult, because honestly the nobility/clergy are doing this exact strategy in reverse, and have a head start.  That's why I know it'll work, though, because it did work, it just worked in reverse.  Or rather, it worked right up until the point where it blew up in *everyone's* faces.

He was kind of doing that already with his indecisiveness. 

He seems to have only done three things by Jan 1 1789 aside from doing whatever his brothers, nobles, or clergy told him to do. 

  • Called the Estates-General
  • Double the 3rd estate's representation (although it was pointless since they didn't vote by head)
  • Appoint the reformist Necker as minister of finance, who the people liked because he was the closest person to a commoner in the government. 

The King relented to a lot of earlier reform but the regional governments blocked those. He seems ot have avoided ruling by decree, which can override these governments, to prevent riots and such. Basically, he was kind of checked out anyway, and sort of allowed the first two estates to 'hoist themselves."

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1 minute ago, vcczar said:

He was kind of doing that already with his indecisiveness. 

He seems to have only done three things by Jan 1 1789 aside from doing whatever his brothers, nobles, or clergy told him to do. 

  • Called the Estates-General
  • Double the 3rd estate's representation (although it was pointless since they didn't vote by head)
  • Appoint the reformist Necker as minister of finance, who the people liked because he was the closest person to a commoner in the government. 

The King relented to a lot of earlier reform but the regional governments blocked those. He seems ot have avoided ruling by decree, which can override these governments, to prevent riots and such. Basically, he was kind of checked out anyway, and sort of allowed the first two estates to 'hoist themselves."

What I'm proposing, and perhaps I'm beating around the bush because my pro-revolution tendencies and other biases make it hard to post from a pro-monarchy standpoint, is actually devolve control formally (albeit slightly) to the regional assemblies and nobles.  This wouldn't actually fix anything, and indeed, would probably make things worse (for some of the reasons you observed, and for some others).  But what it would do is when these problems continue, the nobles and the regional assemblies would be blamed for the taxes/famines, etc instead of Louis personally.  The point is not to reform, the point is not help the 3rd estate or curry favor with them (at this time), it's accelerationism vis-a-vis the 3rd Estate and the other two while he sits back and watches.

To be fair, when I put it that way, I can kind of see how you interpret this plan as the same as his "indecisiveness", but what you cite as "indecisiveness" I don't see that way.  Those actions you cite I see as pro-reform, not hands off.

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Just now, OrangeP47 said:

What I'm proposing, and perhaps I'm beating around the bush because my pro-revolution tendencies and other biases make it hard to post from a pro-monarchy standpoint, is actually devolve control formally (albeit slightly) to the regional assemblies and nobles.  This wouldn't actually fix anything, and indeed, would probably make things worse (for some of the reasons you observed, and for some others).  But what it would do is when these problems continue, the nobles and the regional assemblies would be blamed for the taxes/famines, etc instead of Louis personally.  The point is not to reform, the point is not help the 3rd estate or curry favor with them (at this time), it's accelerationism vis-a-vis the 3rd Estate and the other two while he sits back and watches.

To be fair, when I put it that way, I can kind of see how you interpret this plan as the same as his "indecisiveness", but what you cite as "indecisiveness" I don't see that way.  Those actions you cite I see as pro-reform, not hands off.

Because, at the end of the day, the things you listed, Louis will get blamed for when the failed, because they're things he did.  That's bad.  You want to pass the ball to someone else right before they get tackled, not be left holding the bag yourself.

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4 hours ago, vcczar said:

The following are the issues facing King Louis XVI and his government on January 1, 1789. These issues have been lingering with no solution in sight for almost a decade.:

 

Issues Facing the French Government in 1789
Frequent recessions 
Frequent bad harvests 
Debt crisis because of excessive loans for war and expenditure 
A nation not adapting quick enough to accelerating urban growth
High unemployment because of poor economy, industrialization, and urbanization
Wages for laborers and poor farmers plummeting
Both bread prices and cost of living soaring; malnutrition is rampant in some areas
Nobility & clergy make up 5% of the population and have a virtual monopoly on power and a near-monopoly on wealth
Powerless middle class is growing to 10%, mostly because of urbanization
Peasants and poor make up 80% with almost no chance of upward mobility
Inconsistent tax rates throughout France and inconsistent collection of taxation b/c complex tax system
Tax farmers collect most of the tax, and they often keep some of it for personal profit
Military expenditures exceeds revenue
State pensions exceeds revenue
Corrupt clergy, many who are non-religious aristocrats or nobles
Corrupt nobility, many who don't contribute to society
Tax exemptions of nobility put burden of taxation on the peasants
Tax exemptions of clergy put burden of taxation on the peasants
Flaws in tax system leads to inefficient tax system for middle class, depriving revenue
tax laws required approval from regional parlements who opposed tax reform
King could rule by decree but regional parlements and noble class oppose reform on tax
Half of revenue going to paying off debt
Calonne's universal land tax rejected
Calonne's abolition of grain controls instituted
Calonne's abolition of internal tariffs instituted
Difficulty getting new loans because can't pay back existing loans
Regional parlements are hostile to the King's government
Censorship and laws on political clubs have been relaxed, but this is leading to worrying political activism among the growing, middle class
Middle class and intellectuals, religious or not, are critical of the Catholic Church and organized religion in France
Rural peasants, especially in the West are often conservative and very religious and opposed to reform, even if in their best interest
Regional parlements are more popular than the King's government
King has recently caved and doubled the representation of the 3rd estate, upsetting the nobility and clergy, but upsetting the 3rd estate has that vote was not decreed as a vote by head, making it pointless.
Under the laws of the Estates-General each estate gets 1 vote (majority carries) and the first two are natural allies, overruling the 3rd
Estates-General has not met in 175 years
Absolute monarch
Enlightenment principles at odds with the 1st and 2nd estates
Peasant, laborerers, and unemployed, are not really represented by 3rd estate, who are mostly intellectuals, lawyers, and the rare wealthy middle class
Hated royal corvee on peasants, a tax in the form of forced labor (forced military service, farm work, maintaining the roads)
Slavery is still legal, but mostly in the carribean
Feudalism is still extant in France
Women cannot hold office and have almost no rights
Jews and other openly non-Catholics cannot hold office
Protestants cannot hold office
Military officers and ministers are selected almost exclusively from the nobility
The hated gabelle tax on salt
The hated taille tax, a direct land tax on peasants and other-non-nobles
The hated tithe tax, a heavy tax that goes directly to the Church
The hated aide tax on wine
The hated vingtieme tax, a 5% tax on all incomes, with exemptions and loopholes for the nobility and clergy only
The hated capitation tax, a poll tax
Maritime trade and the oceans dominated by rival UK, restricting trade
Expensive, difficult to mantain overseas colonies
A growing 28 million population, the largest population in Europe

Just for fun, I'm a little curious how you all would work to resolve these if you were King Louis XVI for one year. Keep in mind that the clergy and nobility and regional parlements (equiv to state legislatures) are hostile to change. You're two brothers (future Louis XVIII and Charles X) are also hostile to change, and would easily get the backing from nobles to replace Louis if they feel threatened. Traditionally, Louis was sympathetic to the people (whereas his Queen is notoriously not) but was too ignorant of the common people (esp. peasants) to be truly empathetic. Considering the list above and the factors against the King was he in a no win situation for himself or for the people? @OrangeP47 @Blockmon @Ich_bin_Tyler @Arkansas Progressive @ConservativeElector2 @Euri @10centjimmy @matthewyoung123 @WVProgressive

 

honestly, as King Louis, I would just either work with the revolutionaries or just use suppress as much as possible. The bad part is that only extreme options are opened and even they have higher risk than any other options. I just don't really think he could do anything.

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17 hours ago, vcczar said:

The following are the issues facing King Louis XVI and his government on January 1, 1789. These issues have been lingering with no solution in sight for almost a decade.:

 

Issues Facing the French Government in 1789
Frequent recessions
Frequent bad harvests
Debt crisis because of excessive loans for war and expenditure
A nation not adapting quick enough to accelerating urban growth
High unemployment because of poor economy, industrialization, and urbanization
Wages for laborers and poor farmers plummeting
Both bread prices and cost of living soaring; malnutrition is rampant in some areas
Nobility & clergy make up 5% of the population and have a virtual monopoly on power and a near-monopoly on wealth
Powerless middle class is growing to 10%, mostly because of urbanization
Peasants and poor make up 80% with almost no chance of upward mobility
Inconsistent tax rates throughout France and inconsistent collection of taxation b/c complex tax system
Tax farmers collect most of the tax, and they often keep some of it for personal profit
Military expenditures exceeds revenue
State pensions exceeds revenue
Corrupt clergy, many who are non-religious aristocrats or nobles
Corrupt nobility, many who don't contribute to society
Tax exemptions of nobility put burden of taxation on the peasants
Tax exemptions of clergy put burden of taxation on the peasants
Flaws in tax system leads to inefficient tax system for middle class, depriving revenue
tax laws required approval from regional parlements who opposed tax reform
King could rule by decree but regional parlements and noble class oppose reform on tax
Half of revenue going to paying off debt
Calonne's universal land tax rejected
Calonne's abolition of grain controls instituted
Calonne's abolition of internal tariffs instituted
Difficulty getting new loans because can't pay back existing loans
Regional parlements are hostile to the King's government
Censorship and laws on political clubs have been relaxed, but this is leading to worrying political activism among the growing, middle class
Middle class and intellectuals, religious or not, are critical of the Catholic Church and organized religion in France
Rural peasants, especially in the West are often conservative and very religious and opposed to reform, even if in their best interest
Regional parlements are more popular than the King's government
King has recently caved and doubled the representation of the 3rd estate, upsetting the nobility and clergy, but upsetting the 3rd estate has that vote was not decreed as a vote by head, making it pointless.
Under the laws of the Estates-General each estate gets 1 vote (majority carries) and the first two are natural allies, overruling the 3rd
Estates-General has not met in 175 years
Absolute monarch
Enlightenment principles at odds with the 1st and 2nd estates
Peasant, laborerers, and unemployed, are not really represented by 3rd estate, who are mostly intellectuals, lawyers, and the rare wealthy middle class
Hated royal corvee on peasants, a tax in the form of forced labor (forced military service, farm work, maintaining the roads)
Slavery is still legal, but mostly in the carribean
Feudalism is still extant in France
Women cannot hold office and have almost no rights
Jews and other openly non-Catholics cannot hold office
Protestants cannot hold office
Military officers and ministers are selected almost exclusively from the nobility
The hated gabelle tax on salt
The hated taille tax, a direct land tax on peasants and other-non-nobles
The hated tithe tax, a heavy tax that goes directly to the Church
The hated aide tax on wine
The hated vingtieme tax, a 5% tax on all incomes, with exemptions and loopholes for the nobility and clergy only
The hated capitation tax, a poll tax
Maritime trade and the oceans dominated by rival UK, restricting trade
Expensive, difficult to mantain overseas colonies
A growing 28 million population, the largest population in Europe

Just for fun, I'm a little curious how you all would work to resolve these if you were King Louis XVI for one year. Keep in mind that the clergy and nobility and regional parlements (equiv to state legislatures) are hostile to change. You're two brothers (future Louis XVIII and Charles X) are also hostile to change, and would easily get the backing from nobles to replace Louis if they feel threatened. Traditionally, Louis was sympathetic to the people (whereas his Queen is notoriously not) but was too ignorant of the common people (esp. peasants) to be truly empathetic. Considering the list above and the factors against the King was he in a no win situation for himself or for the people? @OrangeP47 @Blockmon @Ich_bin_Tyler @Arkansas Progressive @ConservativeElector2 @Euri @10centjimmy @matthewyoung123 @WVProgressive

 

Honestly drink myself into a stupor and hand the ball to a noble. Up shit creek and no paddle. 

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20 hours ago, vcczar said:

The following are the issues facing King Louis XVI and his government on January 1, 1789. These issues have been lingering with no solution in sight for almost a decade.:

 

Issues Facing the French Government in 1789
Frequent recessions
Frequent bad harvests
Debt crisis because of excessive loans for war and expenditure
A nation not adapting quick enough to accelerating urban growth
High unemployment because of poor economy, industrialization, and urbanization
Wages for laborers and poor farmers plummeting
Both bread prices and cost of living soaring; malnutrition is rampant in some areas
Nobility & clergy make up 5% of the population and have a virtual monopoly on power and a near-monopoly on wealth
Powerless middle class is growing to 10%, mostly because of urbanization
Peasants and poor make up 80% with almost no chance of upward mobility
Inconsistent tax rates throughout France and inconsistent collection of taxation b/c complex tax system
Tax farmers collect most of the tax, and they often keep some of it for personal profit
Military expenditures exceeds revenue
State pensions exceeds revenue
Corrupt clergy, many who are non-religious aristocrats or nobles
Corrupt nobility, many who don't contribute to society
Tax exemptions of nobility put burden of taxation on the peasants
Tax exemptions of clergy put burden of taxation on the peasants
Flaws in tax system leads to inefficient tax system for middle class, depriving revenue
tax laws required approval from regional parlements who opposed tax reform
King could rule by decree but regional parlements and noble class oppose reform on tax
Half of revenue going to paying off debt
Calonne's universal land tax rejected
Calonne's abolition of grain controls instituted
Calonne's abolition of internal tariffs instituted
Difficulty getting new loans because can't pay back existing loans
Regional parlements are hostile to the King's government
Censorship and laws on political clubs have been relaxed, but this is leading to worrying political activism among the growing, middle class
Middle class and intellectuals, religious or not, are critical of the Catholic Church and organized religion in France
Rural peasants, especially in the West are often conservative and very religious and opposed to reform, even if in their best interest
Regional parlements are more popular than the King's government
King has recently caved and doubled the representation of the 3rd estate, upsetting the nobility and clergy, but upsetting the 3rd estate has that vote was not decreed as a vote by head, making it pointless.
Under the laws of the Estates-General each estate gets 1 vote (majority carries) and the first two are natural allies, overruling the 3rd
Estates-General has not met in 175 years
Absolute monarch
Enlightenment principles at odds with the 1st and 2nd estates
Peasant, laborerers, and unemployed, are not really represented by 3rd estate, who are mostly intellectuals, lawyers, and the rare wealthy middle class
Hated royal corvee on peasants, a tax in the form of forced labor (forced military service, farm work, maintaining the roads)
Slavery is still legal, but mostly in the carribean
Feudalism is still extant in France
Women cannot hold office and have almost no rights
Jews and other openly non-Catholics cannot hold office
Protestants cannot hold office
Military officers and ministers are selected almost exclusively from the nobility
The hated gabelle tax on salt
The hated taille tax, a direct land tax on peasants and other-non-nobles
The hated tithe tax, a heavy tax that goes directly to the Church
The hated aide tax on wine
The hated vingtieme tax, a 5% tax on all incomes, with exemptions and loopholes for the nobility and clergy only
The hated capitation tax, a poll tax
Maritime trade and the oceans dominated by rival UK, restricting trade
Expensive, difficult to mantain overseas colonies
A growing 28 million population, the largest population in Europe

Just for fun, I'm a little curious how you all would work to resolve these if you were King Louis XVI for one year. Keep in mind that the clergy and nobility and regional parlements (equiv to state legislatures) are hostile to change. You're two brothers (future Louis XVIII and Charles X) are also hostile to change, and would easily get the backing from nobles to replace Louis if they feel threatened. Traditionally, Louis was sympathetic to the people (whereas his Queen is notoriously not) but was too ignorant of the common people (esp. peasants) to be truly empathetic. Considering the list above and the factors against the King was he in a no win situation for himself or for the people? @OrangeP47 @Blockmon @Ich_bin_Tyler @Arkansas Progressive @ConservativeElector2 @Euri @10centjimmy @matthewyoung123 @WVProgressive

 

To me, it's almost the perfect shit storm for Louis XVI.  Even if he had been more open to change and more dynamic, the enlightenment, combined with what the French saw going on in America, were bound to have consequences in France.

I know there are some radical ideas, but I would go this direction;

1) It's my belief that the French should suspend payment on the national debt (tell the creditors to wait or to f-off).  This creates more revenue in the short term, though will damage the ability of the government to borrow later.  What are the creditors going to do?  France has the largest Army in the world.  Which leads me to

2) Military reforms (that Napoleon would later do) to minimize the costs of maintaining the army and the navy.  This in turn helps reduce the costs of maintenance of colonies.  No more pay for play for noble officers.  They are to be promoted on merit, not aristocratic connections.  Retain mandatory government service for men.

3) Uniform tax code with no loopholes for anyone.  This is a pipe dream, we can't even get that today, but why not throw it out there.

4) Political reforms similar to those in 15-16th Century England, where the monarch gradually gives up some of his power to an elected parliament (though restricting the right to vote to landowners wouldn't do a whole lot of good in this case).  I think it's a case of France was just way behind the times.  I really despise Henry VIII, but he made some interesting reforms that I think helped to preserve the monarchy until the English Civil War.

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1 hour ago, matthewyoung123 said:

To me, it's almost the perfect shit storm for Louis XVI.  Even if he had been more open to change and more dynamic, the enlightenment, combined with what the French saw going on in America, were bound to have consequences in France.

I know there are some radical ideas, but I would go this direction;

1) It's my belief that the French should suspend payment on the national debt (tell the creditors to wait or to f-off).  This creates more revenue in the short term, though will damage the ability of the government to borrow later.  What are the creditors going to do?  France has the largest Army in the world.  Which leads me to

2) Military reforms (that Napoleon would later do) to minimize the costs of maintaining the army and the navy.  This in turn helps reduce the costs of maintenance of colonies.  No more pay for play for noble officers.  They are to be promoted on merit, not aristocratic connections.  Retain mandatory government service for men.

3) Uniform tax code with no loopholes for anyone.  This is a pipe dream, we can't even get that today, but why not throw it out there.

4) Political reforms similar to those in 15-16th Century England, where the monarch gradually gives up some of his power to an elected parliament (though restricting the right to vote to landowners wouldn't do a whole lot of good in this case).  I think it's a case of France was just way behind the times.  I really despise Henry VIII, but he made some interesting reforms that I think helped to preserve the monarchy until the English Civil War.

I’m pretty much in agreement here. The UK allowed aristocrats to purchase military offices to help fund the military. Not sure if that’s how the French did it or if they just made being a noble a prerequisite for the office. I think having them purchase their way in could stay in provided they also pay for the upkeep of their unit. This obviously weakens the ability of the army but it could be made into something where that noble man is the commander of their unit in name only, unless they’ve proven themselves. 
 

A major thing that needs to be addressed is how to make the unemployed and poor on the King/government’s side. This would reduce populists ability to unleash a reign of terror. Fixing the tax loopholes might help in giving some sort of investment into the people, but the situation is so urgent that Louis needs a solution for this 80% of the French demographic within like a month. Basically, bribe them to prevent mob violence until reform can be placed into action to replace the “bribe.” That might save Louis’s life. This is basically what Saudi Arabia did during Arab Spring, even though their situation wasn’t remotely as dire. 

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1 hour ago, vcczar said:

I’m pretty much in agreement here. The UK allowed aristocrats to purchase military offices to help fund the military. Not sure if that’s how the French did it or if they just made being a noble a prerequisite for the office. I think having them purchase their way in could stay in provided they also pay for the upkeep of their unit. This obviously weakens the ability of the army but it could be made into something where that noble man is the commander of their unit in name only, unless they’ve proven themselves. 
 

A major thing that needs to be addressed is how to make the unemployed and poor on the King/government’s side. This would reduce populists ability to unleash a reign of terror. Fixing the tax loopholes might help in giving some sort of investment into the people, but the situation is so urgent that Louis needs a solution for this 80% of the French demographic within like a month. Basically, bribe them to prevent mob violence until reform can be placed into action to replace the “bribe.” That might save Louis’s life. This is basically what Saudi Arabia did during Arab Spring, even though their situation wasn’t remotely as dire. 

The other elephant in the room is the Catholic Church and its power in France.  One of the reasons I mentioned Henry VIII is because he was able to seize a large amount of land and wealth from the church and award to it loyal nobles and keep some for himself and the coffers in England.  It made him a target of every other Catholic monarch though...

I'm not suggesting that Louis XVI could have done ANYTHING like what Henry VIII did, but some church reforms would also have been necessary.  Perhaps view it as a crusade within the church itself to prevent it from becoming corrupted by Huguenots and other pro-Protestants in Europe.  I don't know if it would work but...

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3 hours ago, matthewyoung123 said:

To me, it's almost the perfect shit storm for Louis XVI.  Even if he had been more open to change and more dynamic, the enlightenment, combined with what the French saw going on in America, were bound to have consequences in France.

I know there are some radical ideas, but I would go this direction;

1) It's my belief that the French should suspend payment on the national debt (tell the creditors to wait or to f-off).  This creates more revenue in the short term, though will damage the ability of the government to borrow later.  What are the creditors going to do?  France has the largest Army in the world.  Which leads me to

2) Military reforms (that Napoleon would later do) to minimize the costs of maintaining the army and the navy.  This in turn helps reduce the costs of maintenance of colonies.  No more pay for play for noble officers.  They are to be promoted on merit, not aristocratic connections.  Retain mandatory government service for men.

3) Uniform tax code with no loopholes for anyone.  This is a pipe dream, we can't even get that today, but why not throw it out there.

4) Political reforms similar to those in 15-16th Century England, where the monarch gradually gives up some of his power to an elected parliament (though restricting the right to vote to landowners wouldn't do a whole lot of good in this case).  I think it's a case of France was just way behind the times.  I really despise Henry VIII, but he made some interesting reforms that I think helped to preserve the monarchy until the English Civil War.

I mean, while I like and dislike some of your points individually, I will say the whole basis of my "platform" was including some mechanism for "how" to get from A to B.  When I had a grad level ideology class that was the one thing that took my term paper on ideology down, for forgetting the how after including lofty ideas.  I could quibble over the actual points, but I think we're aligned in spirit, but not particulars.

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Here are the starting factions:

I'll fill out these rosters so that each faction has 10 people when I get the chance.

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Your initial faction rosters are now on the spreadsheet. Here are the abilities & traits & etc for clarification:

  • Current offices = current office held, including denoting who is the faction leader. 
  • Prestige = this is how points are scored, and if a politician in your faction gets more prestige than the faction leader, then you can switch the faction leader to the politician with the highest prestige.
  • Total value = is abilities + traits (doesn't include prestige)
  • Legislative = the higher the number the more votes the politician is worth if he is in the legislature
  • Administrative = liklihood of success if this politician is a minister
  • Executive = liklihood of success if this politician is a governor, prefect, director, consul, king, or emperor
  • Admiral = liklihood of success if this politician is leading a fleet
  • Command = liklihood of success if this politician is in command of an army
  • General = liklihood of success if this politician is a general fighting at a tactical level (beneath commander)
  • Elan = liklihood to rouse support among the masses, either politically or militarily
  • Loyalty = liklihood to stay loyal to the faction and not join another faction
  • Traits power = number of special traits
  • Special traits that will play a role in deciding what kind of actions politicians can make and etc:
    • Opportunistic - similar to loyalty but could switch sides because of an event if another faction seems powerful or more popular
    • Clergy - can be appointed to church positions
    • Royalty - can inherit the throne but can also be targeted by regicides
    • Lawyer - can hold judicial positions
    • Economist - can hold economic positions
    • Artillerist - provides artillery boost to mil
    • Cavalry - provides cavalry boost to mil
    • Logistics - provides logistic boost to mil
    • Diplomat - can hold foreign affairs and amb offices
    • Nobility - has some special actions so long as the nobility is legal but can be targeted by populists
    • Pamphleteer - Can commit some actions that encourage popular support
    • Orator - Can sway votes
    • Populist - can commit populist actions
    • Manipulative - can manipulate the decision of another
    • Sociable - better at getting someone to switch factions
    • Ruthless - can commit some really brutal actions
    • Irascable - good at causing disharmony, but it's a two-edged sword
    • Pragmatic - provides some boosts or actions
    • Ambitious - Can become the leader of France because wants it; in some cases can lose loyalty if not given sovereignty over a territory conquored, say if Holland becomes conquered and France installs a puppet King. 
    • Tireless - Can hold two offices (excluding faction leader) simultaneously. For instance, Napoleon can be Emperor and Commander in Chief. 
    • Theorist - Can commit actions that lead to faction support as they help develop faction philosophy
    • Spying - can hold police jobs and commit spy actions
    • Ideological pref - if a free agent, must first join a faction with its preference, although can be poached later by another faction once picked up by initial faction
    • Dynasty - plays a role in dynasty actions. 
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JANUARY 1789

The Kingdom of France is in a dire situation with the new year (playtesters: see the issues and budget tabs). Reform is require today because the nation is in total administrative, financial, economic, and social crisis. 

King Louis XVI is still highly popular, but he's showing some cracks in his popularity as he waffles between desired reform for commoners and appeasing the traditionally-minded nobles and clergy. More recently, since 1787, the King has considered calling the Estates-General to fix the finances. It has not met in 175 years. The King has issued a royal decreed doubling the 3rd estate (commoners) to appease them, but the move is powerless as each estate votes seperately, easily allowing the 1st and 2nd estate to squash reform 2 to 1 anytime they want. 

Event:

Recently, Emmanuel Sieyes, a former clergyman, has risen as a reform leader, arguing that the Third Estate -- and not the 1st and 2nd -- truly represent France, and that the first two estates shouldn't take part in the metting of the Estates-General. Sieyes is basically arguing for a unicameral legislature....a house of commons or house of representatives without threat of the nobles or clergy interfering.

 

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January 1789 Actions!

  • King Louis XVI summons the Estates-General by Royal Decree (+20 prestige). The legislature will not meet until May, while elections will take place in March (rules TBD). On the same day the King summons the Estates-General, Lafayette is heard in Paris demanding to a crowd that the King summon this body. 
  • Minister of Finance Necker spends $1 million livres of money they don't really to keep a close eye on tax collectors, but this will ultimately show no improvement. However, Necker, while scrutinizing the budget books and etc., finds 5 million livre! It's impressive (+10 prestige), even if it is only liking taking a glass of water from the ocean. We still have to make up $176 mil before the end of the year. 
  • Barnave and Target demand the King add a reformist minister (a non-noble, non-royal--a commoner). The King will immediately respond. If he accepts, he must fire a minister and issue a royal decree to allow a commoner to be a minister. He will only need to appoint 1 to satisfy both of these politicians. 
  • Madam Roland convinces Barrere to leave the liberals for the moderates (+10 prestige); Maury leaves the faction to make room.
  • Maximilien Robespierre joins the liberals; Ruhl leaves the faction
  • Lebrun joins UA3; Besanval leaves the faction
  • UA2 convinces Vien and Bougainville--both 50 years old or older--to retire, freeing up to spots while also banking their prestige pts. 
  • Mirabeau recruits Thomas Paine to join UA2. This faction also has one more vacancy to recruit someone else next time. 
  • Bailly (+5 prestige) for setting up a political club in French India (Pondicherry), presumably via writing letters to friends abroad. 

Note: I won't report support numbers going up or down. You'll have to investigate those yourself. I might make some analysis at year's end. This turn some factions seem to roll their die number constantly and some couldn't seem to ever get that 25% they needed. 

If you are reading this soon after I'm posting, then the spreadsheet might not reflect some of the changes. 

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