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The secret soon got out. We must show that England has abused its power by searching neutral vessels trading with the colonists. However, Louis wrote these comments for himself and the French manifesto went out uncorrected. By now England would have been happy to end the naval arms race with France and actually proposed this in March In he claimed that his ministers had taken advantage of his youth and that intervention had led to the Revolution, but in he was twenty-four years old and already an experienced diplomat.
Vergennes argued at length that win or lose England would use its troops stationed in the American hemisphere to seize French and Spanish colonies in reprisal for aiding the colonists and that France should enter the war whilst an American alliance was available. There has long been scholarly dispute about whether Vergennes actually believed this argument or merely used it to try to bamboozle the king into entering the war.
On 4 December news reached Versailles that a British army of five thousand men had capitulated to American irregulars at Saratoga Springs on 17 October ; and this convinced the French government that the Americans who had previously suffered a series of defeats were a serious fighting force. Why not jump on their bandwagon? The very next day after the arrival of the news, French and American representatives started treaty negotiations.
Post hoc, propter hoc 13? But there are other interpretations.
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And in any case, would it not have been logical to support England rather than the colonists in order to perpetuate the war? For France could recruit quickly from a system of naval reserves classes , whereas England had to wait for returning merchantmen to crew all the ships in the Royal Navy. Vergennes hoped to capitalize on these factors to knock England out of the war in one campaign.
Louis had thought he could have his cake and eat it: he could indulge in naval rearmament without the risk of war. But Maurepas, who as an ex-naval minister had been as keen as the king to build up the navy, was beginning to think that since France was spending so much on rearmament it might as well go to war, which would justify additional taxation.
Montbarrey, the army minister was selflessly against. But given Spanish reluctance these ministers did not want to take responsibility for the gamble of a one-campaign war, though this could have paid off. In a combined forces attack similar to that which was pulled off at Yorktown failed through bad timing. Both strategies relied on perfect timing and France was either lucky in or unlucky in Maurepas tried to force the king to take responsibility for the decision to enter war without Spain as Vergennes reminded him in when the war was going badly:.
In letters to Vergennes of 7 and 8 January Louis makes it clear that he has made the decision to enter the war whatever the Spanish response, 18 even though such refusal would have given him a let out. Louis knew what would happen next.
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Now the danger was intensified by a finally pregnant Austrian fifth-columnist in the royal marriage bed. This concern could explain why the French government was so keen to present the Belle-Poule incident as the English aggression that started the war. For the Treaty of Versailles with Austria required an act of aggression as a casus foederis , whereas the limited help eighteen ships stipulated in the Family compact with Spain was unconditional. But above all Louis, in accord with his principle of retenue , had not sought major gains.
The real prize was diplomatic prestige and for a short period Louis was the arbiter of Europe. France could not support its allies because of its dire financial situation.
The naval defeat at The Saints in meant that Jamaica could not be taken to swap for Gibraltar. More Details Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Sermons de Bossuet, Vol. Be the first to ask a question about Sermons de Bossuet, Vol. Lists with This Book.
Louis XVI, Vergennes and the American Independence
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All Languages. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Sermons de Bossuet, Vol. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. He has been considered by many to be one of the most brilliant orators of all time and a masterly French stylist.
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Court preacher to Louis XIV of France, Bossuet was a strong advocate of political absolutism and the divine right of kings. He argued that government was divine and that kings received their power from God. He was also an important courtier and politician. Trivia About Sermons de Bossue No trivia or quizzes yet.