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Rent-seeking, Reform and Conflict: French Parliaments at the End of the Ancien Régime

Jaaidane, Touria and Musy, Olivier and Tallec, Ronan (2022): Rent-seeking, Reform and Conflict: French Parliaments at the End of the Ancien Régime.

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Abstract

We analyze the conflicts between French kings and the office-holders who were members of the venal French Parliaments throughout the 18th century using an implicit contract approach in which Parliamentarians protect their rents, the king pays a financial bonus to office holders and obtains their cooperation. Stopping payments or introducing a competing body of civil servants (the intendants) leads to retaliation. We use the model to produce an analytic narrative of the end of the French Ancien Régime. We provide an empirical test of our predictions, which supports the idea that the political opposition of Parliaments was mainly dependent on the reform agenda of the king on matters that would lead to a decline in their income and political power.

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