The intendants of provinces of the ancien regime were taken as a model, and there is a great resemblance between their respective functions.
They came principally from the provincial intendants, or from the tours des aides, which were animated by a liberal spirit.
The intendants, by an exercise of their general or special powers, took the place of the elus, and delegated commissaires aux tailles (commissaries of the taille) for the assessment of the parishes, who guided and supervised the elected collectors - for the most part ignorant and partial peasants.
These were the provinces of the east and north, which were united to the crown at a period when the power of the intendants was already fully developed; they were sometimes known as pays d'imposition.
The former palace of the intendants of Gascony is now used as the prefecture.
They were issued by the intermediary on the advice of the intendants in the provinces and of the lieutenant of police in Paris.
At the beginning of that reign Malesherbes during his short ministry endeavoured to infuse some measure of justice into the system, and in March 1784 the baron de Breteuil, a minister of the king's household, addressed a circular to the intendants and the lieutenant of police with a view to preventing the crying abuses connected with the issue of lettres de cachet.
As an historian he published Origines de l'institution des intendants de provinces (1884), which is the authoritative study on the intendants; Etudes historiques sur les X VI e et X VIP siecles en France (1886); Histoire de Richelieu (2 vols., 1888); and Histoire de la Troisieme Republique (1904, &c.), the standard history of contemporary France.
The colony continued to rise in value during the time it was held by the French crown, and to one of the intendants,2 Pierre Poivre, was due the introduction of the clove, nutmeg and other spices.
In addition to the prerogatives commonly invested in his office, the president is authorized to supervise the judiciary, to nominate candidates for the higher ecclesiastical offices, to intervene in the enforcement of ecclesiastical decrees, papal bulls, &c., to exercise supervisory police powers, and to appoint the intendants of provinces and the governors of departments, who in turn appoint the sub-delegates and inspectors of subordinate political divisions.
The president is authorized to appoint the governors of departments, the intendants of territories, the judges of the supreme and superior courts, and the diplomatic representatives of the republic. His salary, as fixed by the 1905 budget, is £3600 a year, and his cabinet ministers receive f1200 each.