Thank you for your question regarding the practice of purchasing
You asked for a short history, so here are two links that will provide
you, in under 23 pages (one webpage and 22 pages of a paper), a
complete overview and history of this practice!
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
"Until 1870, the usual way for an officer of the cavalry or infantry
to obtain his commission was by purchase. A new candidate had to
produce evidence of having had "the education of a gentleman", to
obtain the approval of his regimental colonel, and to produce a
substantial sum which was both proof of his standing in society and a
bond for good behaviour."
Allen, D. COMPATIBLE INCENTIVES AND THE PURCHASE OF MILITARY COMMISSIONS
excerpt, page 6:
"II. Overview of the Purchase System
The practice of purchasing a position in an army dates back to the thirteenth
century, peaks in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and dies
out in the nineteenth century.10 Throughout this time the purchase system
evolved, and thus the purchase of command in 1200 was considerably different
from purchase in 1870. Although the purchase system was used by
all European powers, the focus here is on the British army.
The purchase system has its beginnings when Henry II (1133?89) relieved
the landed class of a medieval tradition introduced by William the
Conqueror which required landowners to supply the king with knights for
40 days of the year. Instead, Henry II began a form of taxation with which
he hired mercenary companies. The modern commercial connotation of
the word ??company,?? in part, reflects the commercial nature of these armies.
In addition to pay, the companies received a fraction of the plunder
of war, including any ransom from captured prisoners and contributions
protected property.12 Shares in these companies were determined by the
capital investment of its members and were tradable.13 The purchase of
shares by active soldiers was the institutional forerunner of the
formal purchase of commissions, which fully developed in the
I hope that this Answer is sufficient for your needs!
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