By Michael Kwass
Louis Mandrin led a gang of bandits who overtly smuggled contraband into eighteenth-century France. Michael Kwass brings new existence to the legend of this Gallic Robin Hood and the thriving underworld he helped to create. many years sooner than the storming of the Bastille, surging global exchange excited a revolution in intake that remodeled the French nation. Contraband exposes the darkish part of this early part of globalization, revealing hidden connections among illicit trade, criminal activity, and well known revolt.
France's economy was once tailored for an enterprising outlaw like Mandrin. As French topics started to crave colonial items, Louis XIV covered the royal coffers via implementing a country monopoly on tobacco from the United States and an embargo on brilliantly coloured calico fabric from India. energetic black markets arose by which traffickers fed those unique items to keen French shoppers. Flouting the legislations with exceptional panache, Mandrin captured common public cognizance to develop into a logo of a defiant underground.
This furtive economic system generated violent clashes among gangs of smugglers and customs brokers within the borderlands. finally, Mandrin used to be captured by way of French troops and placed to dying in a brutal public execution meant to illustrate the king's absolute authority. however the spectacle basically cemented Mandrin's prestige as a insurgent people hero in an age of mounting discontent. Amid cycles of underground uprising and agonizing penal repression, the reminiscence of Mandrin encouraged usual matters and Enlightenment philosophers alike to problem royal strength and forge a move for radical political change.
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Extra info for Contraband: Louis Mandrin and the Making of a Global Underground
For if tobacco and calico generated an ordinate amount of consumer demand, they did not do so without attracting the attention of European rulers. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, several European polities, including France, established elaborate regulatory apparatuses to control tobacco and calico, bringing the full weight of the state to bear on their trade and consumption. Mandrin’s illustrious career suggests that such efforts were not perfectly successful. 2 The King Intervenes T of Western European consumption from 1650 to 1800 did not take place in a political vacuum.
To extract textiles from the subcontinent, companies hired Indian brokers to act as their intermediaries with local producers. Brokers retained merchants, who provided ﬁnancial advances to weavers, who used the working capital to buy large quantities of raw materials and support themselves while completing orders. Long experienced at adapting their products to the par tic ular tastes of far-ﬂung markets, Indian textile artisans were quick to tailor their cloth to European sensibilities. European companies guided them, sending speciﬁc written instructions regarding the size, shape, color combinations, designs, and borders that were likely to sell best in the year ahead.
3). 3. Fashionable Pastime. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Réserve QB-201 (75). 30 Contraband depicts a nobleman reclining in an armchair as he grates a “carrot” of tobacco into snuff. If, according to the caption, the powder “awakens the mind and purges the brain”— a medicinal effect— it also served as an object of obsessive personal entertainment, keeping the fashionable gentleman busy doing nothing. ” Tobacco was understood not only to heal but also to amuse by keeping its consumer in an oxymoronic state of active idleness.
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