1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Machault d'Arnouville, Jean Baptiste de

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

MACHAULT D'ARNOUVILLE, JEAN BAPTISTE DE (1701-1794), French statesman, was a son of Louis Charles Machault d'Arnouville, lieutenant of police. In 1721 he was counsel to the parlement of Paris, in 1728 maître des requêtes, and ten years later was made president of the Great Council; although he had opposed the court in the Unigenitus dispute, he was appointed intendant of Hainaut in 1743. From this position, through the influence at court of his old friend René Louis, Marquis d'Argenson, he was called to succeed Orry de Fulvy as controller-general of the finances in December 1745. He found, on taking office, that in the four years of the War of the Austrian Succession the economies of Cardinal Fleury had been exhausted, and he was forced to develop the system of borrowings which was bringing French finances to bankruptcy. He attempted in 1749 a reform in the levying of direct taxes, which, if carried out, would have done much to prevent the later Revolutionary movement. He proposed to abolish the old tax of a tenth, which was evaded by the clergy and most of the nobility, and substitute a tax of one-twentieth which should be levied on all without exception. The cry for exceptions, however, began at once. The clergy stood in a body by their historical privileges, and the outcry of the nobility was too great for the minister to make headway against. Still he managed to retain his office until July 1754, when he exchanged the controllership for the ministry of marine. Foreseeing the disastrous results of the alliance with Austria, he was drawn to oppose more decidedly the schemes of Mme de Pompadour, whose personal ill-will he had gained. Louis XV. acquiesced in her demand for his disgrace on the 1st of February 1757. Machault lived on his estate at Arnouville until the Revolution broke out, when, after a period of hiding, he was apprehended in 1794 at Rouen and brought to Paris as a suspect. He was imprisoned in the Madelonnettes, where he succumbed in a few weeks, at the age of ninety-three.

His son, Louis Charles Machault d'Arnouville (1737-1820), was bishop of Amiens from 1774 until the Revolution. He was famous for his charity; but proved to be a most uncompromising Conservative at the estates general of 1789, where he voted consistently against every reform. He emigrated in 1791, resigned his bishopric in 1801 to facilitate the concordat, and retired to the ancestral chateau of Arnouville, where he died in 1820.