Venality: The Sale of Offices in Eighteenth-Century France by William Doyle

Venality: The Sale of Offices in Eighteenth-Century France

byWilliam Doyle

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

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In ancien regime France almost all posts of public responsibility had to be bought or inherited. Rather than tax their richer subjects directly, French kings preferred to sell them privileged public offices, which further payments allowed them to sell or bequeath at will. By the eighteenthcentury there were 70,000 venal offices, comprising the entire judiciary, most of the legal profession, officers in the army, and a wide range of other professions - from financiers handling the king's revenues down to auctioneers and even wigmakers. Though now yielding diminishing returns to theking, offices were more in demand than ever for the privileges and prestige, profit and power, that they conferred; and although it was widely accepted that selling public authority was undesirable, nobody imagined that those who had invested in offices could ever be bought out. The Revolutionbrought an unexpected opportunity to do so, but the legacy of venality has marked French institutions down to our day. William Doyle, one of the foremost historians of early modern Europe, has written the first comprehensive history of the last century of venality. He traces the evolution and dissolution of a system which was fundamental to the workings of state and society in France for over threecenturies.

About The Author

William Doyle is a Professor of History at University of Bristol, Fellow of the British Academy.

Details & Specs

Title:Venality: The Sale of Offices in Eighteenth-Century FranceFormat:HardcoverDimensions:364 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.98 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198205368

ISBN - 13:9780198205364

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`excellent book'Times Literary Supplement