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Brokerage at the Court of Louis XIV

Sharon Kettering
The Historical Journal
Vol. 36, No. 1 (Mar., 1993), pp. 69-87
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2639516
Page Count: 19
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Brokerage at the Court of Louis XIV
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Abstract

For a commission brokers negotiated an exchange between those who had patronage to grant and those in need who were willing to give something in return. They received a fee for their help as intermediaries in the search for patronage. Brokerage differed from patronage in that it was a mercenary service which did not by itself create a personal bond. Noble brokers of royal patronage in the provinces and at court were prevalent during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Provincial brokers included the governors, lieutenants general, intendants, clerics, first presidents of the sovereign courts, military commanders, great nobles, and any resident provincials related to, or well-known by, high-ranking court or government personages. Court brokers included all those regularly at court, and ranged from those immediately surrounding the king, as the fount of royal patronage, downward and outward in layers of influence calculated upon their distance from the king. Brokers in the provinces became less important during Louis XIV's reign because the king himself insisted on supervising the distribution of royal patronage at court. Patronage became more easily obtainable at Versailles than in the provinces, and, increasingly, nobles in need of patronage went to court to find it, aided in their search by courtiers acting as brokers. During Louis XIV's reign, an absolute monarchy sought successfully to centralize the brokerage of royal patronage at court, a hitherto unrecognized aspect of the process of social and political centralization known as early modern statebuilding.

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