This fully revised second edition takes account of historical work produced during the last decade. Covering the period between Louis XIV's death in 1715 and the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, it discusses:
* France's accomplishments in international affairs, commercial expansion, and intellectual and artistic life
* the significance of long-term political, social and economic forces in causing the Revolution
* how the changing perception of government, from one of divine-right kingship towards the idea of a national enterprise, ultimately undermined the old regime.