Media library Media library Advanced search Advanced search
Help Help Shop of the Museum
THEMES Glossary Exhibitions - Discovery Show room
Information Information
WORKS Favourites list Favourites list Site map Site map
Media library
Favourites list
Advanced search
Exhibitions - Discovery
Site map
Home | Centuries | The 16th century - Great figures | Sully (1559-1649)
Sully (1559-1649)
Further information Add to the favourites list Print this page Send this page   Previous 23 / 27 Next

Maximilien de Béthune, Baron of Rosny and Duke of Sully, became a close companion of Henri de Navarre at a very early age. He became his most valuable adviser and his government minister.

The most faithful companion of Henri IV

Maximilien de Béthune was born in a Protestant family from northern France. He was still very young when, thanks to his school teachers who hid him in the Bourgogne College, he escaped the Saint Bartholomew's day massacre (1572).

From very early on, he moved into the immediate circles of Henri de Navarre who was to become Henri IV. He followed him when the latter managed to flee the court in 1576. In 1590, he was seriously wounded during the eighth war of religion, at the battle of Ivry.

Go to top From the role of warrior to that of statesman

Immediately after the coronation of Henri IV, Maximilien de Béthune played a major political role in the latter's entourage and thus began his career as a statesman. He was to become state councillor, member of the king's council, superintendent of the royal properties, and - most important of all - superintendent of finance in 1596. His management of public money was strict, he penalised corrupt practices and lavishness and reduced taxes (« taille »). He favoured agriculture and claimed that « tillage and grazing form the State's udder ». He encouraged efforts made by Olivier de Serres to breed silk worms. He did much to help recover the French economy so seriously drained by the religious wars.

He did not criticize the king for abjuring his faith but refused to do likewise. In 1599 he was appointed commander in chief of the artillery.

In 1606, Henri IV created the peerage dukedom of Sully for him.

Go to top His retirement

The king's assassination in 1610 brought an end to de Bethune's political career.

He was given the title of field-marshal by Louis XIII in 1634. He wrote his memoirs : les Économies royales.

BARBICHE, Bernard et DAINVILLE-BARBICHE, Ségolène, Sully. L'homme et ses fidèles, Fayard, Paris, 1997
GRAND, Roger, Sully, parrain de la rénovation française, Ministère de l'agriculture, Paris, s.d.
Related articles
In this collection
Henri IV (1553-1610)
St. Bartholomew's Day (24th August 1572)
Olivier de Serres (1539-1619)
Other collections
Henri IV (1553-1610) Themes
St. Bartholomew's Day (24th August 1572) Themes
Olivier de Serres (1539-1619) Themes
Further information Further information Add to the favourites listAdd to the favourites list Print this page Print this page Send this page Send this page   Previous 23 / 27 Next
 © Virtual Museum of French Protestantism