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IN THE YEARS before the French Revolution, the right in France, the monarchy and its allied nobles, was in trouble. When Louis XV died and was interred in the cathedral of St. Denis, burial place of French kings, no public mourning accompanied his passing. There were too many French households with empty seats from his reckless pursuit of military glory. While Louis XV had been at least a capable king and a wily diplomat, any productive genes in his son and heir, Louis XVI, remained distinctly, as Abbot Gregor Mendel would have said, recessive. The depletion of the treasury continued, with an archaic system of finances that never repaired the deficit. In January 1772, only 20 years before the fall of the monarchy, the ...

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