‘All that Finance has spoil'd’: The Government and Venality, 1722–1768

William Doyle

in Venality

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780198205364
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676598 | DOI:
‘All that Finance has spoil'd’: The Government and Venality, 1722–1768

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The rule of Louis XV as king of France began with confusing signals about how his ministers would regard venality. This ambiguity would continue throughout the financial administration of Pâris Duverney, Bourbon's chief adviser on these matters. On the one hand, whole swathes of venal offices, such as the municipal ones remarketed as recently as 1722, were abolished once again. And in 1724 came a public attack on venality and its consequences in the preamble to an edict which suppressed 100 of the 340 offices of king's secretary in the grand chancery. The creation of such a great number of offices, it proclaimed, had been ‘one of the greatest abuses which the needs of the late wars have introduced’. Offices in the chanceries were identified as far too numerous. In the closing months of 1768, new financial crises and ministerial upheavals at Versailles would bring profound consequences for the venal system. Within three years it would be shaken to its foundations; and then, reinvigorated, it would enter a final phase of existence quite transformed.

Keywords: France; Louis XV; venality; venal offices; Pâris Duverney; financial administration; chanceries

Chapter.  12851 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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