The comte de Vergennes is best known as one of the great foreign ministers of modern French history. For much of the 1780s he was also first minister in all but name. This is the first book to deal in depth with this lesser-known aspect, and the critical part he played in French domestic policies on the eve of the Revolution. This book studies Vergennes' role in the context of the debate on the nature and future of the French monarchy in the two decades before the Revolution. In this debate Vergennes stood firmly on the side of royal authority. His previously neglected financial reforms, fully examined here, were the last attempt to restructure the monarchy in accordance with its traditional principles. The failure of this undertaking accelerated the final collapse of the royal government. Preserving the monarchy is based on important new archival material, as well as on established sources which here are often reinterpreted. The result is a significant new study, not merely of Vergennes but of the end of the ancien régime.