Article ID: CBB587360844

The Lives of Merchant Capital: The Frères Monneron and the Legacy of Old Regime Empire (2020)


This article scrutinizes the nineteenth-century legacy of the old regime’s commercial empire through the ambiguous case of the Monneron brothers. Having gained fortune and recognition in Indian Ocean trade, the brothers sat as deputies in the National Assembly, but by the end of the 1790s their affairs and reputations had been destroyed. Their experiences reveal how the politics of commerce fundamentally changed during the Revolution. But the Monnerons also draw our attention to structural developments in French commercial imperialism that preceded and transcended the Revolution. They helped facilitate French investment in the Indian Ocean in the final decades of the old regime, a ‘spatial fix’ in merchant capital that was carried out in anticipation of crisis in the Atlantic, and that was consolidated around the turn of the century through the introduction of sugar cultivation in the Mascarene islands. By reading the biographies of the Monnerons alongside the life of their capital, this article attempts to acknowledge the undeniable ruptures of revolutionary politics without losing sight of broader developments in the global history of capitalism.

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Authors & Contributors
Silvano, Giovanni
Duyker, Edward
Crosland, Maurice P.
Gissis, Snait B.
Goldstein, Jan E.
Walker, Mark
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Perspectives on Science
HOST: Journal of History of Science and Technology
History in Africa
French History
Franco Angeli
Harvard University Press
Cambridge University Press
Melbourne University Press
Northwestern University
Cornell University Press
French Revolution of 1789
Medicine and politics
Hospitals and clinics
Labillardière, Jacques-Julien Houtou de
Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Antoine Pierre de Monet de
Lukács, György
Tocqueville, Alexis de
Flaubert, Achille-Cléophas (1784-1846)
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century
17th century
Paris (France)
Great Britain
New Orleans (Louisiana, U.S.)
New York City (New York, U.S.)
Indian Ocean
Académie des Sciences, Paris
New York Cotton Exchange

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