« In many senses, the eighteenth century was France’ s century […] Culturally, France was the storm-center of the movement of intellectual and artistic renewal known as the Enlightenment: for most contemporaries, the lumière of this siècle des Lumieres shone from France. In terms of politics and international relations, France remained the power that other states had to take into account, to worry about, to keep if possible on their side »