(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