Joseph Marie TERRAY

Family tree of Joseph Marie TERRAY

Politician in the French Ancien Régime

FrenchBorn Joseph Marie TERRAY

Controller-General of Finances during the reign of Louis XV of France

Born on November 09, 1715 in Boën-sur-Lignon, France , France

Died on February 22, 1778 in Paris, France

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Terray, tonsured but not a priest, was appointed in 1736 an ecclesiastical counsellor in the Parlement of Paris, where he specialized in financial matters. In 1764 he was made abbot in commendam of the rich abbey of Molesme. The support of his uncle, physician in ordinary to the duchess of Orléans, mother of the Regent, eventually rendered him rich, enabling him to set aside his former circumspect style of life and openly seat his mistresses at his table. His genuine capacity attracted the attention of Louis XV's chancellor, René Nicolas Charles Augustin de Maupeou, who made him controller general in December 1769. His first big venture was helping Mme du Barry's partisans to bring down the minister of foreign affairs, Étienne François, duc de Choiseul the very next year by demonstrating that the government could not afford to go to war with Great Britain. "Intelligent, plain-speaking, hard-working and rich", Terray spent the next few years stabilizing the finances of the country by repudiating part of the national debt, suspending payments on the interest on government bonds, and levying forced loans. These reforms aroused mass protest among nobles and commoners alike, which forced Maupeou to strip the Parlements of their political power in 1771, so that further reforms could be enacted.

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Geographical origins

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