André-Hercule de Fleury

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André-Hercule de Fleury
Bishop emeritus of Fréjus
Cardinal de Fleury by Rigaud.jpg
Cardinal de Fleury, official portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud, Château de Versailles.
Archdiocese Aix
Diocese Fréjus
See Fréjus
Installed18 May 1698
Term ended3 May 1715
Predecessor Louis d'Aquin
Successor Pierre de Castellane
Other posts Cardinal-priest, no title assigned
First minister for Louis XV of France
Consecration22 November 1698
by  Louis Antoine de Noailles
Created cardinal11 September 1726
by Pope Benedict XIII
Rank Cardinal-priest
Personal details
Born(1653-06-22)22 June 1653
Lodève, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Died29 January 1743(1743-01-29) (aged 89)
Issy-les-Moulineaux, Île-de-France, France
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post Bishop of Fréjus (1698–1715)

André-Hercule de Fleury, Bishop of Fréjus, Archbishop of Aix (22 June or 26 June 1653 29 January 1743) was a French cardinal who served as the chief minister of Louis XV.

Cardinal (Catholic Church) senior ecclesiastical official of the Catholic Church

A cardinal is a leading bishop and prince of College of Cardinals in the Catholic Church. Their duties include participating in Papal consistories, and Papal conclaves, when the Holy See is vacant. Most have additional missions, such as leading a diocese or a dicastery of the Roman Curia, the equivalent of a government of the Holy See. During the sede vacante, the day-to-day governance of the Holy See is in the hands of the College of Cardinals. The right to enter the Papal conclave of cardinals where the pope is elected is limited to those who have not reached the age of 80 years by the day the vacancy occurs.

Louis XV of France Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre 1715–1774

Louis XV, known as Louis the Beloved, was King of France from 1 September 1715 until his death in 1774. He succeeded his great-grandfather Louis XIV at the age of five. Until he reached maturity on 15 February 1723, the kingdom was ruled by Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, as Regent of France. Cardinal Fleury was his chief minister from 1726 until the Cardinal's death in 1743, at which time the king took sole control of the kingdom.


Life and government

He was born in Lodève, Hérault, the son of a tax farmer of a noble family. [1] He was sent to Paris as a child to be educated by the Jesuits in philosophy and the Classics as much as in theology. He entered the priesthood nevertheless and through the influence of Cardinal Bonzi became almoner to Maria Theresa, queen of Louis XIV, and, after her death, to the king himself. In 1698 he was appointed bishop of Fréjus, but seventeen years in a provincial see eventually determined him to seek a position at court. [2]

Lodève Subprefecture and commune in Occitanie, France

Lodève is a commune in the Hérault département in the Occitanie region in southern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department. The derivation of the city's name is from Gaulish Luteva, composed of lut-, swamp, mud + suffix -eva. It might therefore translate as the muddy place or the swamp city.

Hérault Department of France

Hérault is a department in Southern France named after the Hérault River. A part of the Occitanie region, it had a population of 1,132,481 in 2016.

Almoner chaplain in charge of assisting the poor

An almoner is a chaplain or church officer who originally was in charge of distributing money to the deserving poor. The title almoner has to some extent fallen out of use in English, but its equivalents in other languages are often used for many pastoral functions exercised by chaplains or pastors. The word derives from the Ancient Greek: ἐλεημοσύνη eleēmosynē (alms), via the popular Latin almosinarius.

In May 1715, a few months before the Sun-King's death, Fleury became tutor to Louis' great-grandson and heir, and in spite of a seeming lack of ambition, he acquired an influence over the child that was never broken, fostered by Louis' love and confidence. On the death of the regent Philippe d'Orléans in 1723, Louis XV came of age. Fleury, although already seventy years of age, deferred his own supremacy by suggesting the appointment of Louis Henri, duke of Bourbon, as first minister. Fleury was present at all interviews between Louis XV and his titular first minister, and on Bourbon's attempt to break through this rule Fleury retired from court. Louis made Bourbon recall the tutor, who on 11 July 1726 took affairs into his own hands and secured the exile from court of Bourbon and of his mistress Madame de Prie. He continued to refuse the formal title of first minister, but his elevation to cardinal, in 1726, confirmed his precedence over any others. [2]

Philippe II, Duke of Orléans member of the royal family of France, Regent of the Kingdom from 1715 to 1723

Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, was a member of the Royal Family of France and served as Regent of the Kingdom from 1715 to 1723. Born at his father's palace at Saint-Cloud, he was known from birth under the title of Duke of Chartres. His father was Louis XIV's younger brother Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, his mother was Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate.

Under the Régence, the Scottish economist John Law had introduced financial measures that were modern for the time: a national bank, easy credit to encourage investors, and paper money exchangeable for gold bullion. Investor overconfidence in the ability to exchange paper money for gold led to wild speculation after 1720, and when the bubble burst, Law and his policies were thoroughly discredited, and French finances were in as dire straits as they had been when Louis XIV died.[ citation needed ] Fleury was imperturbable in his demeanor, frugal and prudent, and he carried these qualities into the administration. In 1726 he fixed the standard of the currency and secured French credit by initiating regular payment of interest on the national debt, with the result that in 1738/39 there was a surplus of 15,000,000 livres instead of the usual deficit. Fleury's stringencies were enforced through the contrôleur général des finances Philibert Orry (who remained in office until 1745). By exacting forced labor from the peasants (see corvée) he improved France's roads, though at the cost of rousing angry discontent, which later found expression in the French Revolution. During the seventeen years of his orderly government, the country found time to recuperate its forces after the exhaustion caused by the ambitions of Louis XIV and extravagances of the regent, and national prosperity increased. Social peace was seriously disturbed by the severities which Fleury exercised against the Jansenists. [2] He was one of the minority of French bishops who published Clement XI's bull Unigenitus and imprisoned priests who refused to accept it, and he met the Jansenist opposition of the Parlement of Paris by exiling forty of its members to a "gilded cage" not far from Paris.

John Law (economist) Scottish economist

John Law was a Scottish economist who believed that money was only a means of exchange that did not constitute wealth in itself and that national wealth depended on trade. He was appointed Controller General of Finances of France under the Duke of Orleans, who served as regent for the youthful king, Louis XV.

Philibert Orry French politician

Philibert Orry, count of Vignory and lord of La Chapelle-Godefroy, was a French statesman.

The duc d'Orleans' Council with Cardinal Fleury Regence du duc d'Orleans, Council with Cardinal Fleury.jpg
The duc d'Orléans' Council with Cardinal Fleury

In foreign affairs, the maintenance of peace was a preoccupation he shared with Sir Robert Walpole, and the two old enemies refrained from war during Fleury's ministry. Some Jacobite sympathizers in France had formed lodges of Freemasons; their attempts to influence Fleury to support the Stuart faction led instead to raids on their premises, and Fleury urged Pope Clement XII to issue a bull in 1738 that forbade all Roman Catholics to become Freemasons under threat of excommunication.[ citation needed ] It was only with reluctance that he supported the ambitious projects of Elizabeth Farnese, queen of Spain, in Italy by guaranteeing in 1729 the succession of Don Carlos to the duchies of Parma and Tuscany. [2] French diplomacy however was losing its military bite. Fleury's cagey double game with the Corsican revolutionaries under the elder Paoli, smuggled arms to the island while assuring the Genoese of French support. Fleury thus began the manipulations that landed Corsica in the arms of France in 1768.[ citation needed ]

Robert Walpole British statesman and art collector, 1st Earl of Orford

Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford,, known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole, was a British politician who is generally regarded as the de facto first Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Pope Clement XII 18th-century Catholic pope

Pope Clement XII, born Lorenzo Corsini, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 12 July 1730 to his death in 1740.

Corsica Island in the Mediterranean, also a region and a department of France

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is located southeast of the French mainland and west of the Italian Peninsula, with the nearest land mass being the Italian island of Sardinia to the immediate south. A single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island.

Fleury's economies in the army and navy, as elsewhere, found the nation poorly prepared when in 1733 war was forced upon France. He was compelled by court opinion to support the claims of Louis XV's father-in-law Stanislaus Leszczynski to the Polish crown on the death of Augustus II, against the Russian and Austrian candidate; but the despatch of a French expedition to Gdańsk turned into a humiliation. Fleury was pressed by his advisor Germain Louis Chauvelin to more energetic measures; he concluded a close alliance with the Spanish Bourbons and sent armies against the Austrians twice. Military successes on the Rhine and in Italy secured the favorable terms of the treaty of Vienna (1735–1738). France had joined with the other powers in guaranteeing the succession of Maria Theresa under the Pragmatic Sanction. But by a diplomatic quibble, Fleury found an excuse on the death of Charles VI in 1740 for repudiating his engagements, when he found the party of war supreme in the king's counsels. After the disasters of the Bohemian campaign at the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession he wrote in confidence a humble letter to the Habsburg general, Königsegg, who immediately published it. Fleury disavowed his own letter, and died in Issy-les-Moulineaux, a few days after the French evacuation of Prague on 20 January 1743. [2]

Germain Louis Chauvelin French politician

Germain Louis Chauvelin, marquis de Grosbois, was a French politician, serving as garde des sceaux and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs under Louis XV.

Maria Theresa Ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg

Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg. She was the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Transylvania, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands, and Parma. By marriage, she was Duchess of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany and Holy Roman Empress.

Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 edict

The Pragmatic Sanction was an edict issued by Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, on 19 April 1713 to ensure that the Habsburg hereditary possessions, which included the Archduchy of Austria, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Kingdom of Croatia, the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Duchy of Milan, the Kingdom of Naples, the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Austrian Netherlands, could be inherited by a daughter.

He had enriched the royal library by many valuable oriental manuscripts, and was a member of the Académie française from 1717, of the Academy of Science, and the Academy of Inscriptions. [2]

In the years following Fleury's death, escalating Franco-British skirmishes at sea culminated in a declaration of war with Britain in March 1744, a war he had avoided for so long, a war effectively ending the relatively peaceful period from 1713–1744, a period sometimes referred to the "Thirty Years' Peace" of which Cardinal Dubois and Philippe D'Orléans were the primary architects.[ citation needed ]


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Events from the year 1726 in France.

De Fleury is the surname of:


  1. Jones, Collin (2003). The Great Nation. London: Penguin Books. p. 82. ISBN   978-0-14-013093-5.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Fleury, André Hercule de". Encyclopædia Britannica . 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 500–501.

Further reading