Sully, Maximilien de Béthune, duc de

Sully, Maximilien de Béthune, duc de sülēˈ [key], 1560–1641, French statesman. Born and reared a Protestant, he fought in the Wars of Religion under the Huguenot leader Henry of Navarre (later King Henry IV of France). Before 1606 he was known as baron de Rosny. Appointed to the finance commission in 1596, he became sole superintendent of finances in 1598. To restore the finances, which King Henry III's extravagance and the Wars of Religion had plunged into disorder, he canceled portions of the public debt, recovered alienated sources of revenue, instituted an annual tax on officeholders, and strictly controlled all expenditures. As a result, there was a large surplus in the treasury at the end of Henry's reign. Sully restored French prosperity by encouraging agriculture and public works; he set about building a network of roads and canals. He was Henry IV's closest adviser and had gained his personal friendship; after Henry's assassination (1610), he resigned his office (1611). Besides being an admirable administrator, Sully was a man of remarkable vision, as is shown in his Great Design, a plan for a federation of all Christian nations, which appeared in his memoirs (1638); he attributed the plan to Henry IV.

See E. C. Lodge, Sully, Colbert, and Turgot (1931, repr. 1970); D. Buisseret, Sully and the Growth of Centralized Government in France (1968).

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