Charles Alexandre de Calonne

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Calonne, Charles Alexandre de


Born Jan. 20, 1734, in Douai; died Oct. 29, 1802, in Paris. French statesman.

From 1783 to 1787, Calonne was controller-general of finances. He attempted to replenish the exhausted state treasury by borrowing at high interest, reminting gold coins, and increasing taxes. Threatened with the financial failure of the government, Calonne in 1786 followed the example of A. R. J. Turgot and J. Necker in proposing reforms: an increase in the tax obligations of the privileged classes by instituting a uniform land tax, abolition of the royal highway service duties (corvée) and of the salt tax (excise), sale of part of the royal estates, and curtailment of expenses at the royal court. However, the Assembly of Notables, which had been summoned upon his initiative in 1787, rejected these proposals. Calonne was forced to retire (April 1787), and in that same year he moved to Great Britain. During the Great French Revolution he was one of the leaders of the émigré counterrevolutionaries. Calonne returned to France in 1802.


Jolly, P. Calonne: 1734-1802. Paris [1949]
Lacour-Gayet, R. Calonne: Financier, reformateur, contrerévolution-naire, 1734-1802. Paris, 1963.
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He purchased several thousand mineral specimens from the collection of the French statesman Charles Calonne in 1801, at what was said to be a great price.