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This article explores the intendants, the pre-modern French bureaucrats, as proto-modern bureaucrats. Historical research highlights their role in strengthening the state's fiscal capacity, but few works provide empirical evidence on the intendants as bureaucrats. My paper fills this gap by constructing a new data set of 430 intendants from 1640 to 1789, the period in which these officials were systematically assigned. I use this data set to explore personnel recruitment and appointment in comparison to venal officeholding. My findings indicate that only less than a half of the recruits went through the legally-specified training path, and a wide variability in appointment duration suggests that the state did not run it mechanically. Strong familial and marital ties in appointment also threaten impersonality. My analysis highlights the process of political development for investigation as fiscal capacity hinges on how states manage staff who administer revenue collection.
Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 1, Issue 2 Special Issue - Frontiers in HPE: Articles Overview
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.