Cite JOURNAL ARTICLE
Der Preis des Erfolgs. Gunst, Kapital und Patrimonialisierung am Hof von Versailles (1661–1789)
Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, Vol. 36 (2009), Iss. 1 : pp. 71–91
1 Citations (CrossRef)
1Dr. Leonhard Horowski, Südwestkorso 13, 12161 Berlin.
The Intriguing Madame de Rosemain and the Economy of Deal Making at Louis Xiv's Versailles
French Historical Studies, Vol. 40 (2017), Iss. 1 P.33https://doi.org/10.1215/00161071-3686044 [Citations: 1]
This article aims at exploring the interdependence of material, social and “favour capital” at the court of Versailles beyond the truism that there, as at all courts, royal favour could much more easily be converted into money than vice versa. After a short (and necessarily incomplete) typology of faction-related gifts among courtiers themselves as well as between courtiers and the king (I), the argument focuses on the idiosyncratic form of office venality that distinguished French court offices not only from those of other countries, but also (by placing them halfway between officier and commissaire) from virtually all other French offices (II). Paradoxically, the very mechanism of the so-called brevet de retenue, which could theoretically have made a good royal disciplining tool, soon helped office-holding families to achieve dynastic permanence. They alone could de facto inherit what everybody else had to buy at an enormous price. However, the system also necessitated huge material and political effort once per generation to ensure proper transmission, and generated interesting testimony of cooperation among courtiers. In a final section (III), the example of the Duc de Charost's appointment as capitaine des gardes in 1711 is discussed to develop and illustrate some of the most characteristic points inherent in this system of court relations. Charost successfully instrumentalised a future king's favour, useful kinship and re-activated lukewarm friendships, and obtained the help of the powerful yet menaced Noailles in managing the problematic financial operation which was needed to pay for his office. In the process he demonstrated the need for co-existence felt by all members of the never-changing cast of Versailles. The episode also shows how even an apparently banal material transaction could be part of a much larger scenario, involving in this case ecclesiastical intrigues and the royal succession. Above all, the almost immediate and unpredictable changes that followed and the long-term fate of the participants' families remind us of how superficially turbulent court politics could be, and how at the same time the dynastic mechanisms of office-holding ensured its actors would always be the same happy few.