editors: apricot & juurensha
At the six-person council table.
The players sat down on either side, one after another, with a clear distinction between the left and right.
Candle light shone down from the dome. The curtain was at least four meters long, and the silver iris patterned embroidery flowed along the heavy cloth. In the silence, Wu Jin glanced over at the six ‘parliament members’ who had grabbed the seats.
Wei Yan was very strong, and he had a noble card in hand. To Wei Yan’s left was Ning Fengbei. The Hyacinth Show Red Rose could achieve promotion through Thin Fire’s cardinal card. Further behind them was the Marshal Qin Jinbao.
The three groups had sufficient noble cards, and their promotion was guaranteed. Any newly conferred nobles would be regarded as a threat to their rankings by these three groups.
On Wu Jin’s side, in addition to the big boss, there was the commoner Caesar who was still banging on his bowl. Ming Yao’s buttocks were stuck to his chair, his hands jammed on the gun, his sharp eyes darting around, his expression a little anxious––
Based on Ming Yao’s actions, it must be that Zuo Botang hadn’t obtained a noble card.
Three against three. Wu Jin narrowed his eyes slightly.
At the head of the long table.
The King set down Wu Jin’s proposal and spoke slowly, “Titles? For sale?”
Louis XV was taller and more heavily-built than his great-grandfather the Sun King, but his face looked wearier. The Sun King’s great achievements were like heavy stones on the shoulders of this new king, leaving this Louis breathless. He tried his best to imitate the Sun King’s dress and mannerisms, even if the memory of this great-grandfather had already been completely blurred by time.
The proposal was left at the table, and the King’s secretary handed out quills and smooth pieces of paper to everyone, “Gentlemen, please vote.”
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
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“The nobility is the foundation of the glory of France, and I want to hear your opinions.” The envelope for the ballot was held in the King’s hand, and Louis XV’s voice rose abruptly with unquestionable momentum. He rapped on the table with his knuckles, “Use your reason to convince me.”
However, his gaze was aimed straight at Wu Jin, who’d been the one to deliver the motion.
Wu Jin nodded to the King and spoke slowly and forcefully, “Your Majesty, conferring noble titles is the best way to reduce the financial deficit from the war. The bourgeoisie are willing to contribute their assets to your cause. Not only will you obtain capital assistance, you will also have their loyalty. They will gather at the Palace of Versailles and surround you like the entire French aristocracy.”
“This is a business transaction where there is no possible loss.”
Louis XV’s eyes brightened slightly, but he held the King’s vote and looked to the other side of the long table.
Ning Fengbei stood up amidst everyone’s gazes.
From behind Wu Jin, Chu Chu instantly came to attention. She quickly reminded them angrily, “Sister Ning never loses with words. She once made eight Star Blog accounts to fight against 200 anti-fans and still came out on top…”
Vera looked coolly at Ning Fengbei.
The Red Rose smiled lightly at the King. “The French nobility has always been exempt from taxes. If the big bourgeoisie are also awarded with the tax exemption status––let me speculate how much will the tax income reduce next year? By half? Three quarters?”
Louis XV suddenly woke up and looked at Wu Jin with a cold expression.
“……” Wu Jin was shocked by how quickly the King’s expression changed. However, it did seem that the Louis XV from history had indeed been given full play to his wavering character, and successfully passed it on to Louis XVI who’d lost his head to the guillotine––
Wu Jin listened calmly to Ning Fengbei’s argument and retorted, “I agree with Miss Ning’s concerns, however, once the bourgeoisie are promoted to nobility,” The youth raised his eyebrows slightly, “The King reduced the salary tax out of his benevolence, but the profit tax was not within the scope of this grace.”
“For example, the banker, Mister Dwerney.” Wu Jin continued without hesitating, using the big boss as a hammer, “If he is promoted to Baron, his salary will be 20 francs, tax-free, but the profit tax from his cigarette factory, winery, and bank will remain at 6000 francs. There is also the factory tax. Mister Dwerney will still be a faithful contributor to France’s financial revenue. His Majesty will only have lost 20 francs.”
Ning Fengbei’s expression changed slightly. Louis XV was soon convinced by the numbers and once again switched to saying, “So it’s like that. In this case––”
“Wait a minute!” Ning Fengbei suddenly pushed back her chair, her phoenix eyes full of defiance. She enunciated her words clearly as she stepped forward, “Aristocrats were born with noble blood. If the common people are conferred titles and cause shame––France’s reputation will be destroyed in their hands.”
Louis XV’s expression was hesitant.
Wu Jin’s presence didn’t lose to hers at all as he quickly refuted her point, “Based on the bourgeoisie’s social influence, they are obviously not inferior to the aristocracy.”
Ning Fengbei’s lips curved, and she gritted her teeth as she argued, “Your Majesty, please remember. Any title you sell is a drain on France’s reputation, and one on your reputation as well.”
The light in Wu Jin’s eyes flickered. At the front, Louis XV was once again undecided. He was obviously more concerned about his reputation as a King than his budget deficit.
A long time later, the King raised his eyebrows and seemed ready to veto the proposal.
There was an instant uproar from beneath the platform.
Ning Fengbei had adopted extremely high-handed means to determine whether or not Louis XV would pass the motion. She didn’t make use of the French deficit, the economy, or even the future; her arguments only poked at the King’s most tender areas. At this time, even Ming Yao’s expression was a little blank as he shared his thoughts with his captain in a low voice. It was unknown what Chu Chu was chattering on about, and Vera seemed to be thinking about sniping at Ning Fengbei––
Wu Jin finally spoke up again, “These titles are indeed ‘selling French honor’, but the sales of such things will be kept within the limits of what Your Majesty allows and can be done in a reasonable fashion.”
Everyone looked at Wu Jin. Wu Jin continued, “When the bourgeoisie class is promoted to nobility, the capital under them will be firmly tied to the honor of France, greatly reducing the chance of capital flight during the Seven Years’ War. This is one point to consider.”
“The titles are equivalent to a land grant, and their salaries are exempt from tax.” Wu Jin paused for a second, “That means that the bourgeoisie are not without gains––in this transaction, the noble position is a mixed financial product that integrates territory with tax-free dividends. If France has a great victory, the bourgeoisie can be paid a small dividend. Even if the war is lost, the bourgeoisie are there to pad the bottom with their money. This is the second point.”
“I prefer to call this kind of deal––akin to issuing French government bonds. It is about linking the national economy and glory with circulating capital, sharing assets with national bonds, reducing the deficit, and being able to fight at the front without worrying about the rear.”
There was silence.
The youth stood there, drawing all the light beneath the whole dome. Louis XV was deep in thought, and Ming Yao slapped the table, giving Wu Jin a thumbs up. Wei Shi’s eyes drifted through the crowd, locking in on the place where the light gathered.
Ning Fengbei had already narrowed her eyes.
She suddenly spoke up, and her tone was unhappy, “The bourgeoisie can buy a title once then enjoy the aristocratic dividends handed down from generation to generation in France. This is taking too much of an advantage of the situation.”
Wu Jin instantly shot back, “The titles are hereditary, but the dividends will have long been exhausted. Of course, national debt can also be issued and purchased many times. The national war debt of Poland and Austria… Your Majesty can even regulate the French financial markets through the sale of titles.”
Ning Fengbei was dazed for a few seconds and gave a last struggle, “The assets of a few capitalists aren’t enough to support the war at the front lines…”
Wu Jin quietly waited for the Red Rose to finish talking, then spoke two words, “Financial leverage. The sale of the titles is only the first step. The capital injection can become the start-up capital for the entire French financial industry. Not only can the national debt be sold, but profits from the colonial wars can also be converted into shares.”
“If one bourgeoise’s resources aren’t enough, then two, three… even the entire population can become shareholders.”
Ning Fengbei’s expression changed again. What Wu Jin was saying was extremely absurd, but it wasn’t difficult to fool an 18th century King with very limited knowledge and scanty information––
Wu Jun was no longer worried. He handed the document to Louis XV, “Raising war through commerce, and building commerce through war. In the name of Your Majesty, France will become the unshakeable number one overlord of Europe.”
There was a light sound.
Louis XV happily signed the document, “You mentioned just now, Mister Dwerney the banker…”
The youth instantly took out the big boss’s card from his pocket and placed it beneath the King’s seal.