Ownership and heritability of an office. Sold by the state to raise money, these offices, mostly in the judicial apparatus and the administration, were retained in exchange for an annual tax of one-sixtieth of the value (the Paulette). These offices provided access to power and opportunities for profit. The more important offices, and thus the most expensive, also conferred personal noble status on the holder that became hereditary, generally after three generations. Through venality of office many bourgeoisie could hope for eventual noble status, which provided an important avenue of social mobility; yet as a governmental system it was inefficient because it made it very difficult to administer government policy consistently. Venal officeholders, treating their posts as property, could better resist general directives.
“Venality,” LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY: EXPLORING THE FRENCH REVOUTION, accessed May 10, 2021, https://revolution.chnm.org/d/1124.