Contraband: Louis Mandrin and the Making of a Global by Michael Kwass

By Michael Kwass

Louis Mandrin led a gang of bandits who overtly smuggled contraband into eighteenth-century France. Michael Kwass brings new lifestyles to the legend of this Gallic Robin Hood and the thriving underworld he helped to create. a long time prior to the storming of the Bastille, surging global alternate excited a revolution in intake that reworked the French nation. Contraband exposes the darkish facet of this early section of globalization, revealing hidden connections among illicit trade, criminal activity, and well known revolt.

France's economic climate used to be tailored for an enterprising outlaw like Mandrin. As French topics started to crave colonial items, Louis XIV covered the royal coffers by means of implementing a kingdom monopoly on tobacco from the USA and an embargo on brilliantly coloured calico textile from India. full of life black markets arose in which traffickers fed those unique items to keen French shoppers. Flouting the legislation with unprecedented panache, Mandrin captured common public recognition to develop into an emblem of a defiant underground.

This furtive economic system generated violent clashes among gangs of smugglers and customs brokers within the borderlands. finally, Mandrin used to be captured through French troops and positioned to dying in a brutal public execution meant to illustrate the king's absolute authority. however the spectacle in basic terms cemented Mandrin's prestige as a insurgent folks hero in an age of mounting discontent. Amid cycles of underground uprising and agonizing penal repression, the reminiscence of Mandrin encouraged usual matters and Enlightenment philosophers alike to problem royal energy and forge a circulate for radical political change.

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Not only did tax farming guarantee steady streams of revenue without the fi nancial risks and bureaucratic hassles of direct administration but, more important, it provided the monarchy with an extraordinarily useful credit mechanism, as tax The King Intervenes 47 farmers amassed capital from noble and bourgeois families to advance huge loans to the king, the interest from which could simply be deducted from the price of the lease. The lines of credit that monarchs tapped through tax farming were remarkably deep.

29 Such encounters became common as the first generations of Spanish, Portuguese, English, Dutch, and French explored and settled in the New World in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Although colonists sought gold, spices, and neglected souls, not tobacco, western Europeans rapidly took to the leaf, ingesting it in the same manner as the Amerindians. Soon, the leaf was trickling back across the Atlantic in the sea chests of merchants, sailors, and clergy who had smoked in America and wanted to bring tobacco home for personal use or to distribute as gifts to friends and acquaintances.

Insofar as it raises dopamine levels, however, it is also extremely addictive, as any smoker who has grown accustomed to an after-dinner cigarette (or two) can attest. 23 Physical addiction is only one explanation for the success of tobacco, however. At the very least, its psychoactive effects must be placed in a broader cultural context that accounts for the significance that consumers themselves attributed to the plant. And here we bump up against a complicated historical problem. To assess the cultural meaning of goods imported into Europe from overseas, it is important to consider what they meant in their indigenous environments and how those meanings were rejected, modified, or appropriated as they entered metropolitan Europe.

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