French 'Absolutism'?

David Parker defends a controversial term against its critics.

It is absurd to imagine that a single individual can wield total power in any society and certainly not in the context of ancien régime France. It would take only a few minutes reflection to establish a long list of factors which inhibited a full exercise of royal authority, from the sheer size of the realm to the vested interests of the 80,000 venal officeholders who administered it.

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