Money for Honour: Offices in the Market

William Doyle

in Venality

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780198205364
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676598 | DOI:
Money for Honour: Offices in the Market

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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If few buyers of public offices thought only of the financial return on their investment, equally few gave it no thought at all. For that vast majority who enjoyed no gages and who acquired an office to acquire a living, the need to calculate a return was obvious enough. Yet, from the 1750s onwards, much-exploited companies such as the chanceries or bureaux of finances had to resign themselves to gages not covering all their collective obligations. Many more people than office-holders themselves and their families had a vested interest in the stability and profitability of venal offices in France. After the failure in the 1770s of the most spectacular attack on venality since Jean-Baptiste Colbert, office prices went up more than ever. Twelve years later, the most radical ministerial reform plan since the regency contained few proposals affecting venality. In these circumstances few could have dreamed that the end of the system was at hand, or that office was not among the most secure of all investments.

Keywords: France; venality; public offices; prices; investments; gages; financial return; chanceries; bureaux

Chapter.  20050 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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