French revolution biographies

Necker biography

Necker was Louis XVI's very popular finance minister. He supported the Third estate in their request for more egality. However, Necker quickly lost his popularity when he failed to convince the revolutionaries.


Necker by Duplessis (1793)

Necker Early Life

Necker was born on September 30th, 1732 in Geneva, Switzerland. He came to Paris in 1747 to work in a bank. He had a very successful career and soon became very wealthy. Few years later, in 1765, he founded his own bank named “Thellusson, Necker & Cie”.

Necker Political career - 1st mandate

In 1772, Necker started to focus on his political career. He was named Finance Minister by Louis XVI in October 1776.

He was a good politician and allowed the country to curb its debt. He used loans to help fund the American war of independence and made some very popular reforms like the abolishment of serfdom.

In 1781, Necker criticized the royal pension system and the royal family expenditures in an open letter called “Compte rendu au roi”. For the first time ever, the people of France could have a look on the royal family expenses. The content of this letter shocked the people and this could be considered as one of the causes of the French Revolution. As a consequence, Louis XVI fired Necker.

Necker Political career - 2nd mandate

However, Louis XVI had to rehire the very popular Necker on August 25th, 1788 when France was stuck in a financial turmoil.

Necker urged the king to call for the Estates General meeting and obtained to double the number of the Third Estate representatives. But Necker was not able to change the voting process. There was still one vote by Estate instead of a vote by head.

Necker position was controversial. Upset by his declarations during the meeting, Louis XVI fired him again on July 11th, 1789. But the king had to face the people of Paris rage during the Storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789. So he recalled Necker 5 days later, on July 16th, 1789.

Necker retirement

Necker was then considered a hero by the French citizen. But he was not able to control the mob's anger against the Monarchy.

Necker wanted to work alone and refused to collaborate with Mirabeau or Lafayette. But his job was quite inefficient and his reputation started to fade. Necker finally exiled to Switzerland in 1790 with his daughter Madame de Staël. He died in Coppet, Switzerland on April 9th, 1804.

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