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Anti-corruption in HistoryFrom Antiquity to the Modern Era$
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Ronald Kroeze, André Vitória, and Guy Geltner

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198809975

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198809975.001.0001

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Late Medieval Polities and the Problem of Corruption

Late Medieval Polities and the Problem of Corruption

France, England and Portugal, 1250–1500

(p.77) 5 Late Medieval Polities and the Problem of Corruption
Anti-corruption in History

André Vitória

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores how politics and private interest affected the anticorruption apparatus gradually put in place by French, English and Portuguese kings between 1250 and 1500. This apparatus was comprised of judicial prosecution and procedures for appointing and replacing officials, rules defining the duties and duration of office, improved record-keeping and accounting practices and mechanisms for administrative supervision. The chapter also argues that these royal regimes were structurally incapable of punishing and restraining corruption effectively and in a sustained manner, essentially because they could not control political society directly and because political constraints and their dependence on informal service often made a strict approach to corruption injudicious. Late medieval states, therefore, were confronted with the dilemma of having to fight corruption with inadequate means and without unduly disturbing the social and political equilibrium on which their authority depended.

Keywords:   corruption, anticorruption, medieval, monarchy, France, England, Portugal, prosecution, polity

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