The event takes place during 1750, in the run up to the outset of the Seven Years War between Britain and France. Madame de Pompadour is stepping down from her position as the King’s official mistress.
France is still very much the dominant power in Europe, but its position as such is less than stable. Britain’s dominance of the seas is unparalleled, and tensions between the two nations regarding their colonial possessions are beginning to flare. Although the country has enjoyed peace and prosperity during the regency of Louis XV’s youth, the country is now recovering from the large-scale War of the Austrian Succession (1740 to 1748).
Discontent with the monarchy and the established order is growing, but at this stage it is merely a whisper. The strength and glory of the Sun King is now a distant memory - his successor, Louis XV is weak, vain, and highly unpopular. Revolutionary sentiment is still decades away, but the grumbling of the nobles can be heard in every salon across France. The nobles, seeing that their king can be influenced, scramble to expand their own family’s influence and standing at court.
Acceding to the throne in 1715, Louis XV came to be known as “le Bien-Aimé” (the Beloved). In 1722 he moved the Court and the seat of government back to the Palace of Versailles, which had been abandoned after the death of Louis XIV. In 1725 he married Marie Leszczyńska, who would bear him an heir. Louis XV was a passionate student of science, especially botany, and did much to enrich the Palace’s gardens. He also commissioned the construction of the Petit Trianon for his mistress, Madame de Pompadour.
Louis XV was somewhat of a moderniser, who sought to reduce France’s debt and modernise it’s taxation system. While many in the realm supported his modern measures, they were fiercely opposed by the clergy and the nobility. Over the course of Louis XV’s reign he would butt heads with his Parliament, which would sow seeds of the mindset that Parliament, not the King, was the legitimate source of laws in France.
Louis XV set out to tax the church which again met with resistance. His recurrent head-butting with Parliament and church led to most of his reforms failing to gain traction.
Louis XV was keen on science, and during his reign he encouraged the growth of Enlightenment ideas. He collected clocks and precision instruments, and the king's geographers worked with astronomers to map the country in detail. The monarch also backed maritime exploration and encouraged scientific expeditions to bring back plant specimens from distant climes. In the King’s Garden, in Paris, and in the Trianon Botanical Gardens, the king used the system of plant classification developed by the Swedish botanist Linné. Louis XV also took an interest in the first experiments with electricity. In 1746, at Versailles, Abbé Nollet performed a Leyden jar experiment for the King, successfully accumulating an electric charge.
While we expect our characters to be French (this is, after all, a game about the politics of the French nobility of the 18th century), you might like to know a little about the rest of the world at the time, how the French feel about them, and what impact the greater political climate might have on you.
Abroad, the power of Great Britain is growing and the shadow of the island nation looms across the channel. Great Britain has firmly established itself as the dominant maritime power in the world by this point.
Relations with France: France and Britain still smart from opposing each other in the War of the Austrian Succession.
Relations with France: France and Russia still smart from opposing each other in the War of the Austrian Succession.
The Habsburg family retained control of Austria at the end of the War of the Austrian Succession. Maria Theresa remained monarch of Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary. Her husband, Francis, was confirmed as Holy Roman Emperor.
Relations with France:
Throughout the 1750s, France and Prussia were allied.
Relations with France: France and Prussia fought alongside one another in the War of the Austrian Succession.
King Philip V of Spain, of the House of Bourbon, was a grandson of King Louis XIV, the Sun King, of France. Thus, both monarchies being controlled by the same House, the two nations were on friendly terms through an agreement known as the Pact de Famille.
Relations with France: France and Spain fought alongside one another in the War of the Austrian Succession. The closeness of the French and Spanish wings of the House of Bourbon mean the two nations have a good relationship.
Portugal is a firm ally of Great Britain.
Relations with France:
The Holy Roman Empire was led by Austria.
Relations with France:
In 1705, during the Great Northern War, King Augustus II, the Strong, was deposed by the King of Sweden, and replaced with King Stanislaus I. Through the marriage of King Philip V of Spain to Maria, daughter of King Stanislaus I of Poland, the French entered the War of the Polish Succession in 1733, alongside Spain. Although the forces of Stanislaus I lost the war, the House of Bourbon made territorial gains.
Relations with France: The Polish, loyal to King Augustus III, are mistrustful of the French.