Paul Riquet was born in Béziers, Hérault, France, the eldest son of solicitor, state prosecutor and businessman Guillaume Riquet. As a youth, Riquet was only interested in mathematics and science. He married Catherine de Milhau at age 19.
As a fermier général (“farmer-general”) of Languedoc-Roussillon, he was a tax farmer responsible for the collection and administration of the gabelle (salt tax) in Languedoc. He was appointed collector in 1630, and was also a munitions provider to the Catalan Army. Riquet became wealthy and was given permission by the King to levy his own taxes. This gave him greater wealth, which allowed him to execute grand projects with technical expertise.
More info at: Pierre-Paul Riquet – Wikipedia
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