Beyond Debate: Venality in the Public Mind

William Doyle

in Venality

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780198205364
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676598 | DOI:
Beyond Debate: Venality in the Public Mind

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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The growth of venality in France was accompanied at every stage by public controversy. In 1688, as Louis XIV prepared to launch a war whose costs would push the sale of public offices to its greatest extent ever, it was discovered that venality had a hitherto unsuspected defender in the person of Cardinal de Richelieu, whose Political Testament was first published that year. Written originally for the eyes of Louis XIII alone in the mid-1630s, manuscript copies of the great minister's reflections on the government and interests of the kingdom remained rare, and unknown to the public until Huguenot exiles in Amsterdam decided to embarrass Louis XIV by publishing the often equivocal thoughts of the greatest architect of absolute monarchy. With the collapse of absolute monarchy and the convocation of the Estates-General, it became possible to think realistically about attacking all manner of abuses committed by those who held venal offices. The cahiers bear witness to the dawning of that realization.

Keywords: France; venality; public offices; Louis XIV; Cardinal de Richelieu; absolute monarchy; cahiers

Chapter.  18373 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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