Epilogue: The Persistence of Venality

William Doyle

in Venality

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780198205364
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676598 | DOI:
Epilogue: The Persistence of Venality

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Two centuries after the Constitution of 1791 proclaimed its abolition, something close to venality of public offices continues to operate in crucial areas of French life. In one of those areas it never really disappeared. Even the constituents, for whom devenalizing national institutions was an article of faith, thought new notaries should put up caution money. As they pocketed compensation for the loss of functions they still exercised, notaries continued quietly to sell their practices to the highest bidder. Only under the Fifth Republic was any dent been made in this seemingly impregnable edifice, and then only because it was relatively cost-free. Two functions of the venal system before 1789 were recruiting public servants and newcomers to social elites. Once the French Revolution was launched, the experience of venality under the old order helped to determine the way it went. The arguments against venality were ideas whose time had come, although the change in perceptions was not peculiar to France.

Keywords: France; French Revolution; venality; notaries; public offices; public servants; social elites

Chapter.  5779 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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