“Thy favourites grow not up by fortune’s sport,
Or from the crimes or follies of a Court;
On the firm basis of desert they rise,
From long-tried faith, and friendship’s holy ties.”
Maximilien de Béthune, 1st Duke of Sully, Marquis of Rosny and Nogent, Count of Muret and Villebon, Viscount of Meaux (13 December 1560 – 22 December 1641) was a nobleman, soldier, statesman, and faithful right-hand man who assisted king Henry IV of France in the rule of France. Historians emphasize Sully’s role in building a strong centralized administrative system in France using coercion and highly effective new administrative techniques. His policies were not original, and most were reversed. Historians have also studied his neo-Stoicism and his ideas about virtue, prudence, and discipline.
Sully in power
- Sully left a collection of memoirs written in the second person very valuable for the history of the time and as an autobiography, in spite of the fact that they contain many fictions, such as a mission undertaken by Sully to Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1601. Perhaps among his most famous works was the idea of a Europe composed of 15 roughly equal states, under the direction of a “Very Christian Council of Europe”, charged with resolving differences and disposing of a common army. This famous “Grand Design”, a utopian plan for a Christian republic, is often cited as one of the first grand plans and ancestors for the European Union. Two folio volumes of the memoirs were splendidly printed, nominally at Amsterdam, but really under Sully’s own eye, at his château of Sully in 1638; two other volumes appeared posthumously in Paris in 1662.
- The Pavillon Sully (Pavillon de l’Horloge) of the Palais du Louvre is named in honor of the Duc de Sully.
- The Ormeau Sully, an ancient field elm Ulmus minor, reputedly planted by Sully, survives (2016) in the village of Villesequelande near Carcassonne.
- In the independent principality of Boisbelle, which he acquired in 1605, he started construction of a capital at Henrichemont.