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Venality – The Sale of Offices in Eighteenth-Century France - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Venality: The Sale of Offices in Eighteenth-Century France

William Doyle


In ancien régime France, almost all posts of public responsibility had to be bought or inherited. Rather than tax their richer subjects directly, French kings preferred to sell them privileged public offices, which further payments allowed them to sell or bequeath at will. By the eighteenth century, there were 70,000 venal offices, comprising the entire judiciary, most of the legal profession, officers in the army, and a wide range of other professions — from financiers handling the king's revenues down to auctioneers and even wigmakers. Though now yielding diminishing returns to the king, off ... More

Keywords: France, ancien régime, public officials, taxes, French kings, French Revolution, state, society

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 1996 Print ISBN-13: 9780198205364
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205364.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

William Doyle, author
University of Bristol, Fellow of the British Academy
Author Webpage