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55 Ecclesiastical diplomacy In relations with Rome, diplomacy was widely defined, and the crucial issues generally related to the situation of the Church within France, rather than to matters of wider diplomatic import, let alone the affairs of the Papal State. 56 Ministers and diplomats such as Choiseul who are generally associated with international power politics also had to spend much time on negotiations with Rome. The fate of the Jesuits was a major issue in the 1760s and 1770s, and a sign of the decline of Catholic internationalism and counter-Reformation politics.

Conclusions Royal preferences were serious because the emphasis within French government and politics was not on matters maritime, commercial or colonial. Louis XIV was no Peter the Great, keen to develop and sustain a navy and to move the capital to the coast, while Louis XV lacked the Emperor Charles VI’s ostentatious commitment to trading companies (‘the Emperor is so bent upon making a figure at sea’ according to the British envoy in 1728)162 and Louis XVI failed to match Charles III of Spain’s interest in the colonies and trade.

1 Since then much excellent work has appeared, but it has, on the whole, addressed particular periods of Ludovician foreign policy, rather than dealing with the reign as a whole. 2 Recent work helps to clarify the extent to which Louis’s policy neither conformed to any master plan nor consistently centred on one issue. Rather, the picture that emerges is a fractured one. This empirical development is underlined by two conceptual points. Firstly, the reification of early-modern foreign policy has not been without unfortunate consequences, not least in providing an analytical imperative for historians to clothe actions and events with signs of coherence and consistency, and especially to show that there was long-term planning.

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