Portrait engraving of Maximilien de Bethune, Duke of Sully.

BETHUNE, Maximilien.

From Krul Antiquarian Books (Hoofddorp, Netherlands)

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1850. Engraved by Nordheim, Gerard pinx., 22 x 14 cm in passe-partout. - Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, No. 715. Maximilien de Béthune, first Duke of Sully (13 December 1560 - 22 December 1641) was the doughty soldier, French minister, staunch Huguenot and faithful right-hand man who assisted Henry IV of France in the rule of France. He was born at the Château de Rosny near Mantes-la-Jolie into a branch of the House of Bethune, a noble family originating in Artois, and was brought up in the Reformed faith, a Huguenot. Still a boy, Maximilien was presented to Henry of Navarre in 1571 and remained permanently attached to the future king of France. The young Baron of Rosny was taken to Paris by his patron and was studying at the College of Bourgogne at the time of the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre, from which he escaped by discreetly carrying a book of hours under his arm. He then studied mathematics and history at the court of Henry of Navarre. - On the outbreak of civil war in 1575 he enlisted in the Protestant army. In 1576 he accompanied the Duke of Anjou on an expedition into the Netherlands in order to regain the former Rosny estates, but being unsuccessful he attached himself for a time to the Prince of Orange. Later rejoining Henry of Navarre in Guienne, he displayed bravery in the field and particular ability as a military engineer. In 1583 he was Henry's special agent in Paris, and during a respite in the Wars of Religion he married an heiress who died five years later. - On the renewal of civil war, Rosny again joined Henry of Navarre, and at the battle of Ivry (1590) he was seriously wounded. He counselled Henry IV's conversion to Roman Catholicism but steadfastly refused to become a Catholic himself. Once Henry IV of France's succession to the throne was secured, the faithful and trusted Rosny received his reward in the shape of numerous estates and dignities. - From 1596, when he was added to Henry's finance commission, Rosny introduced some order into France's economic affairs. Acting as sole Superintendent of Finances (officially) so at the end of 1601, he authorized the free exportation of grain and wine, reduced legal interest, established a special court to try cases of peculation, forbade provincial governors to raise money on their own authority, and otherwise removed many abuses of tax-collecting. Rosny abolished several offices, and by his honest, rigorous conduct of the country's finances, he was able to save between 1600 and 1610 an average of a million livres a year. - His achievements were by no means solely financial. In 1599, he was appointed grand commissioner of highways and public works, superintendent of fortifications and grand master of artillery; in 1602 governor of Nantes and of Jargeau, captain-general of the Queen's gens d'armes and governor of the Bastille; in 1604 he was governor of Poitou; and in 1606 made first duke of Sully and a pair de France, ranking next to princes of the blood. He declined the office of constable of France because he would not become a Roman Catholic. - Sully encouraged agriculture, urged the free circulation of produce, promoted stock-raising, forbade the destruction of the forests, drained swamps, built roads and bridges, planned a vast system of canals and actually began the Canal de Briare. He strengthened the French military establishment; under his direction, the construction of a great line of defences on the frontiers began. Abroad, Sully opposed the king's colonial policy as inconsistent with French interests, and likewise showed little favor to industrial pursuits, but on the urgent solicitation of the king, he established a few silk factories. He fought together with Henry IV in Savoy (1600-1601) and negotiated the treaty of peace in 1602; in 1603, he represented Henry at the court of James I of England; and throughout the reign, he helped the king to put down insurrections of the nobles, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant. It was Sully, too, who arranged the marriage between Henry IV and Marie de' Medici. - The political role of Sully effectively ended with the assassination of Henry IV on 14 May 1610. Although a member of the Queen's council of regency, his colleagues were not inclined to put up with his domineering leadership, and after a stormy debate he resigned as superintendent of finances on 26 January 1611, retiring into private life. - The queen mother gave him 300,000 livres for his long services and confirmed him in possession of his estates. He attended the meeting of the Estates-General in 1614, and on the whole was in sympathy with the policy and government of Richelieu. He disavowed the plots at La Rochelle, in 1621, but in the following year was briefly arrested at Moulins. - The baton of marshal of France was conferred on him on 18 September 1634. The last years of his life were spent chiefly at Villebon, Rosny and his chateau of Sully. He died at Villebon. (Wikipedia). KEYWORDS:france/maps. Bookseller Inventory # 55121

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Title: Portrait engraving of Maximilien de Bethune,...

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