This major new textbook addresses fundamental questions about the nature of the state in early modern Europe through an analysis of the most important continental state, France. Professor Collins abandons the traditional formulation of the absolute monarchy, and presents in its place a state that evolved to meet the needs of the French elites. Collins offers a detailed analysis of French society, to provide the broader context for the development of the French state. The model that emerges from his synthesis is one that relied more on persuasion and congruity of influence than on arbitrary authority, and Collins argues that fundamental changes in French society made the monarchical, ministerial state a dangerous anachronism by the 1750s, leading to political impasse by the second half of the eighteenth century. Collins offers a fundamental reinterpretation of the state relevant to historians and students of political thought.