Late Medieval Polities and the Problem of Corruption: France, England and Portugal, 1250–1500

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnticorruption in History from Antiquity to the Modern Era
EditorsRonald Kroeze, André Vitória, G. Geltner
Place of PublicationOxford and New York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9780198809975
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • corruption
  • anticorruption
  • medieval
  • monarchy
  • France
  • England
  • Portugal
  • prosecution
  • polity

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