Fleury, André Hercule de
FLEURY, ANDRÉ HERCULE DE
French cardinal and statesman; b. Lodève, Languedoc, June 22, 1653; d. Paris, Jan. 29, 1743. He studied in Paris at the colleges of Navarre, Louis-le-Grand, Harcourt, and the Sorbonne. He was tonsured in 1666, and made canon of Montpellier in 1668; he became chaplain in 1675 of Queen Marie Thérèse, and in 1678 of Louis XIV, who made him bishop of Fréjus in 1699. Fleury pursued social and religious reforms in his diocese, which was invaded by armies in 1702 and 1707. He carefully observed the reforms of the Council of Trent and took a sound theological position toward jansenism in 1711 when he censured P. Quesnel in letters to Cardinal Noailles, and also in an episcopal letter of 1714. He resigned the see in 1715 to become tutor to Louis XV, for whose spiritual life he showed solicitude. In 1717 Fleury entered the Académie Française. He used his position on the Jansenistic Council of Conscience (in charge of church benefices) to work for religious peace, order, and unity.
Having been a respected counselor of louis xv during the regencies of the Dukes of Orleans and Bourbon, Fleury became prime minister in fact from June 1726 until his death. He was made a cardinal in September 1726. His policies were not fixed but were characterized by frugality and concern for peace. He stabilized the currency and the national credit, which had suffered from the extravagance and wars of Louis XIV. Commerce flourished, and France regained her position as arbiter of European affairs.
Fleury intervened reluctantly in the Wars of the Polish and Austrian Successions. His temporizing with the political and religious aspects of Jansenism was unpopular with both sides, and his quiet policy was not appreciated, but the years of his ministry were the happiest of the reign of Louis XV. He failed, however, to familiarize the king with matters of government.
Bibliography: g. hardy, Le Cardinal de Fleury et le mouvement janséniste (Paris 1925). a. m. wilson, French Foreign Policy during the Administration of Cardinal Fleury, 1726–1743 (Cam-bridge, Mass. 1936). m. de sars, Le Cardinal de Fleury, apôtre de la paix (Paris 1942). r. chalumeau, Catholicisme. Hier, aujourd'hui et demain, ed. g. jacquemet (Paris 1947–) 4:1344–45.
[w. e. langley]
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