Fouquet, Nicolas

Fouquet or Foucquet, Nicolas

(nēkôlä` fo͞okā`), 1615–80, superintendent of finance (1653–61) under King Louis XIV of France. His loyalty to Cardinal MazarinMazarin, Jules
, 1602–61, French statesman, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, b. Italy. His original name was Giulio Mazarini. After serving in the papal army and diplomatic service and as nuncio at the French court (1634–36), he entered the service of France
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 during the FrondeFronde
, 1648–53, series of outbreaks during the minority of King Louis XIV, caused by the efforts of the Parlement of Paris (the chief judiciary body) to limit the growing authority of the crown; by the personal ambitions of discontented nobles; and by the grievances of
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 helped to secure his position. By his transactions with financiers, to whom he allowed huge profits, he impoverished the treasury and accumulated a vast personal fortune. He spent large sums for his own purposes, notably on his mansion at Vaux, and was a patron of literary men, among them Jean Baptiste Molière and Jean de La Fontaine. He was created marquis of Belle-Isle. Aroused by Jean Baptiste ColbertColbert, Jean Baptiste
, 1619–83, French statesman. The son of a draper, he was trained in business and was hired by Cardinal Mazarin to look after his financial affairs.
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, who gave the king reports of Fouquet's mismanagement of funds, and made jealous by a magnificent fete he attended at Vaux, Louis XIV ordered Fouquet's arrest in 1661. The trial took three years. Fouquet was sentenced (1664) to banishment, but the king, still resentful, changed the sentence to life imprisonment.

Fouquet, Nicolas

 

(also N. Foucquet; Viscomte de Vaux, Marquis de Belle-Isle). Born 1615 in Paris; died Mar. 23, 1680, in the Château de Pignerol. French state figure.

Fouquet began his career as an intendant. During the Fronde he gained advancement by supporting Cardinal Mazarin. Mazarin brought Fouquet into the Royal Council, making him a minister and principal director of the Compagnie des Iles d’Amérique. From 1653 to 1661, Fouquet was superintendent of finances; he shared the post with A. Servien until 1659, when the post became Fouquet’s alone.

Following the example of Mazarin and Cardinal Richelieu, Fouquet sought to concentrate power in his own hands. He strengthened the system of loans and tax farming and surrounded himself with people who had made fortunes through the system. He transformed the Breton island of Belle-Isle, which he had bought, into a fortress. These actions alarmed Louis XIV, who had not forgotten the Fronde; the king feared that Belle-Isle would be put to use in a struggle against royal authority. Largely through the influence of J. B. Colbert, Fouquet was arrested at Nantes in September 1661 and in 1664 was found guilty of conspiracy and of embezzling state funds. Fouquet’s property was confiscated, and he spent the last 15 years of his life imprisoned in the Château de Pignerol.

A. I. KOROBOCHKO

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