Chapter

Venality: A French Addiction

William Doyle

in Venality

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780198205364
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676598 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205364.003.0001
Venality: A French Addiction

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The night of August 4, 1789 is justly remembered as the most radical legislative session of the entire French Revolution, when the National Assembly abolished or condemned many of the customs and institutions which had shaped French life for generations. Among the unplanned casualties was venality of public offices. The first concrete evidence of primitive venality in France came from protests against it by assemblies of estates, and royal laws formally prohibiting or renouncing it. But the regular recurrence of both shows that well before the end of the fourteenth century, the basic elements of the system were tenaciously established. The 1520s saw the establishment of two institutions which were to give the French financial system much of its distinctive character until the Revolution: the rentes, government stocks offered for public subscription; and the parts casual, established in 1522 to generate and collect, as the name implied, occasional and non-recurrent income. Jean-Baptiste Colbert saw no advantages in venality and tried, but failed, to curtail it.

Keywords: France; venality; public offices; parts casual; rentes; financial system; government stocks; income; Jean-Baptiste Colbert

Chapter.  12434 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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