Venal office and the royal breakthrough
in Louis XIV and the parlements

This chapter shows how Louis XIV overcame the parlements' defence of venality. He forced them to pay for repeated augmentations de gages and to accept the creation of as many offices as the king could sell. This was at the cost to the magistrates of falling office prices and heavy personal debt, the social and economic consequences of political defeat. Although very different from forced loans and office creations, their traditional worries, the reforms posed an obvious threat to the venal interests of the magistrates, for whom this meant rising indebtedness, the mortgaging of their offices and the decline of office values. The government of Louis XIV, so far from respecting the venal interests of the parlements, as revisionist historians have argued, manipulated and exploited those offices to a degree that exceeded the abilities of its predecessors. It would be even more successful in the War of the Spanish Succession; and the financial difficulties of the judges would increase.

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Louis XIV and the parlements

The assertion of royal authority

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