In spite of the reactionary right wing’s ambitions, the Bourbon Restoration following the fall of Napoleon in 1814 was characterized by the need of establishing some continuity with the recent past by purging the most politically compromised governmental officials. This essay shows how a powerful administrative structure, having inherited a long tradition, was able to ensure a smooth transition from the imperial regime to the monarchic one, mostly through economic measures. The technocratic elite, acting during the Restoration early years, was familiar with the ideas of Turgot, Necker and even Colbert and was a passionate reader of the English laissez-faire literature. Besides, its administrative staff had gained experience during the previous years or even during the Ancien Regime. By drawing upon a strongly pragmatic liberalism the technocratic elite was therefore able to manage a delicate transition by assigning the State the task of modernizing the economy, a task which was unavoidable if France was to keep its role as a European power.
Keywords: Transition from empire to monarchy, liberalism, modernization, state structure