Jean Orry

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Jean Orry (Paris, 4 September 1652 – Paris, 29 September 1719) was a French economist whose broad financial and governmental reforms in early 18th-century Bourbon Spain helped to further the implementation of centralized and uniform administration in that country.

Jean Orry's career as a munitioneer for the army of Italy between 1690 and 1698, demonstrated his capacities.[1]

Louis XIV of France, whose grandson had just succeeded to the Spanish throne as Philip V (November 1700), sent Orry to Spain in 1701 to report on the finances of that kingdom, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14). Orry, working on information gathered during several residences at Madrid, drew up detailed memoranda advising not only the centralization of financial administration but also recommending a thoroughgoing reform of the basic governmental system on the French model; in Orry's proposals, political power would be transferred from the royal councils, dominated by nobles with strong vested interests, to a number of ministers, similar to the French secretaries of state, who would be loyal to the crown, from which all their authority would originate.

Under pressure because of the war, Philip first put Orry in charge of Spain's military finance. He reorganized and increased tax collection and devised various expedients to pay for troops and provisions for the war. He also instituted proceedings to recover stolen or alienated royal property. Shortly after May 1705 a position of secretary of war and finance was created, an initial step in Orry's reform program.

Except for the interval when Orry was recalled to France in the summer of 1706 and did not return to Spain until April 1713, he joined the royal favourite, the self-styled Princesse des Ursins, who had arrived in 1701 as Camarera mayor de Palacio to the young queen, as the de facto rulers of Spain. Orry continued his efforts to bring financial administration more fully under the control of the central government. He also packed the royal councils with his candidates, who would support his policies with their votes; he created four new secretaries of state who reported to him. Towards the end, by a royal decree composed by Orry (23 December 1713), traditional local governments (the Cortes) were centralized by the division of Spain into twenty-one provinces. The Consejos Territoriales were superseded by an intendant directly responsible to Orry. Some of the local councils, such as the Council of Castile retained influence through less direct channels.

Before his reforms could be fully implemented, however, Orry— who was inextricably connected with the disgraced French favourite— was dismissed through pressures brought to bear by the Parmesan contingent round the new queen, Elisabetta Farnese, and Giulio Alberoni, who within not much more than a year of his arrival was made a duke and grandee of Spain, and now became a member of the king's council and would soon be made cardinal by Pope Clement XI, under pressure from the court of Spain (July 1717); Orry was ordered from Spain (7 February 1715). The King signed the Decreto de Nueva Planta later that year, revoking most of the historical rights and privileges of the different kingdoms that conformed the Spanish Crown, unifying them under the laws of Castile, where the Cortes regained some of its power.

Though certain of Orry's reforms did not survive his departure, Giulio Alberoni, the cardinal who succeeded him in power, continued the main lines of his financial reorganization and his repression of the power of the royal councils in favour of a bureaucracy wholly dependent upon the central power. Orry's creation of secretaries of state and intendants continued as a significant element in Spanish governmental administration.

Further reading

  • Anne Dubet, 2006. Jean Orry et la réforme du gouvernement de l'Espagne (1701-1706) (Clermont-Ferrand)

See also


  1. ^ Denise Ozanam provides a well-documented account,
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