The Move From Aristocracy To Bureaucracy — страница 7

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peers and great officers (reflecting the roots of the noblesse d??p?e), by the late sixteenth century, the power of the old aristocrats even at the highest levels was being eroded.? In 1594, the Constable Montmorency-Damville sat on the Royal Financial Commission with three other great nobles, but by 1598, with the exception of the Protestant Sully, the King?s council was a representation of the noblesse de robe. The accumulation of offices in France in some cases did reinforce the aristocracy as they bought they way to influence, and in some cases, wealthier aristocrats amassed such a number of offices of such influence that they could become local sovereigns.? This is paradoxical, given that a strong argument for the cultivation of the culture of venality was as a means to

counter the growing irritation of the local Parlements and estates that were enforcing forms of local independence.? However, in general, this era saw a usurping of the great nobles by the gentry. The growth of the influence of the gentry was not just recognition of the growth of their numerical strength and improved status as noblesse de robe, but as a result of the faction and intrigue that pervaded France?s old nobility throughout the Wars of Religion.? As a result, the nobility tended only to return to favour as regards appointments during exceptional cases of excellence or during times of royal weakness.? (For example, Gaston and Conde were recalled to the royal chambers during the minority of Louis XIV.)? Louis XIV?s reign, starting in 1661, typifies the trend: of his

seventeen councillors, just two were from old aristocratic houses.? Not only were the old nobility racked with ancient grudges and prone to faction, but they almost universally lacked the legal training necessary to maintain a seventeenth century administrative position.? By the advent of the seventeenth century, all that the nobility were fit for were regional posts and army or ecclesiastical positions. Whilst the high nobility suffered, the robins (lawyers) gained a monopoly over the sercretaryships in all of the sections of royal affairs requiring routine administration and in the sovereign courts.? It must be realised that the old system of old families dominating the court had neither stigma nor problem for Early Modern Europe.? It was the order in which things lay.? As

such, the growth of legal and financial noblesse de robe dynasties was a hallmark of this era.? The Phelypeaux family provided nine secretaries of state without a break between 1610 and 1777 whilst the Nicolay family provided the nine first presidents of the Chambre des Comptes of Paris between 1506 and 1791. By 1521, Francois I was complaining that ?most of the offices of the kingdom, of all types, are owned in expectancy?.? Paradoxically, given their nouveau riche means, the old hereditary principle of office was actually reinforced by the noblesse de robe, who having bought offices, saw them as bought property and as a means of reinforcing their membership of the second estate. Although Francois insisted that one had to survive the changeover of office by forty days in order

to prevent the establishment of new dynasties and to allow the reversion of offices back to the Crown for their resale, the droit annuel was later adopted in exchange for the forty days rule, as a means of extracting money from the offices.? Time-shared offices were opposed at every turn, and eventually the format for the retention of offices was of offices that could be inherited, but which were taxed.? The price of offices was hit by inflation, which although reflected by the tied-in droit annuel, made offices unobtainable by the royalty, so the crown could not benefit from the rise in values. As another consequence of the inflation, the Crown could not afford to buy any offices and so could not reform them.? The growth in offices occurred at all levels. Offices, such as the

businesses of urban fishmongers, were soon acquired by the government in an attempt to raise more revenue, but they succeeded only in confusing the convoluted societal structure further.? With offices out of the price range of the government, reform of the system was impossible.? Revenue was raised by the sale of new offices, created by adding layers upon layers were added to the state administrative system.? The Parlements recorded feelings of being threatened by a new executive justice across the kingdom. The French bureaucratic class grew massively, though most of the posts were redundant (the old taille office found itself monitoring the activities of a new office in charge of all taxes and levies) and so reduced the number of bureaucrats without increasing the active power