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How important was Sully to the recovery of France under Henri IV?

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Introduction

How important was Sully to the recovery of France under Henri IV? The Duc de Sully is well known for making France solvent by the end of Henri IV's reign. Henri had 200,000 million livres in royal debt, but by the end of his reign he had none. Sully has a lot to be thanked for, but was it solely Sully's ability that brought France out of debt? The recovery of France under Henri IV may have been due to Sully's reforms in court and the introduction of the Paulette, but France already had the potential to be a great country, its financial resurrection may not have been due to Sully's ability, but simply due to his perseverance. Sully's luck in having a good king to rule France may have also been an underlying factor to his success. Sully became Surintendent des Finances in 1598 and then Grand Voyer in 1599 (which gave him control over roads bridges, artillery and fortifications). These roles made him an important, an invaluable member of Henri's court. ...read more.

Middle

Debt to the German Princes was also largely ignored. Sully's luck with war-weariness attitudes of the people again helped him with the Rentes that Henri owed, some were paid interest, for some he reduced people's interest and some Sully did not pay at all! Sully was important in taking measures to stop the embezzlement of royal treasurers. He defined the functions of provincial treasurers, partly through introduction of elus, new officials, sent to the pays d'elections. He also held several enquiries into the activities of tax farmers and financiers. Sully cleverly thought of keeping money aside, something that no other financial administrator had thought of before, he built up royal savings using the Bastille to keep the cash in, if there was ever war. However, it was Sully's tax reforms that were the most important. He investigated the French tax system and gathered important information from it. He realised that the tax burden was on the wrong people and so reduced the Taille and raised the Gabelle. By doing so he shifted the tax burden from the peasants and towns to the more privileged. ...read more.

Conclusion

All France needed was the right man to develop her strengths, which came in the form of Sully. Sully's luck can also not be forgotten, if Henri had not have been such a politique in nature, Sully may not have even got the positions he did as he was a Huguenot. The Edict of Nantes meant that he had this opportunity and without Henri he wouldn't have. Henri and Sully's strengths complimented each other. Henri was a powerful war leader and this struck a great deal of caution into the hearts of potential rebels, Sully's importance, intelligence and financial ability meant that the pair of them restored France together. Henri made emotive speeches to the Parlement of Paris, and Sully was in the background, restoring France onto a stronger financial footing. Sully contributed to France's recovery immensely, helped with the growing reputation of Henri IV. Sully's considerable power, bureaucratic habit, drive and determination meant that he was an "eminently practical man" (Briggs). He played a great part in placing the French monarchy on a sound financial footing. In conclusion, Sully was very important to the recovery of France under Henri IV. 22/03/04 ...read more.

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