chapter  8
The political culture of court society
Pages 14

The nearly seventeen years of the ascendancy of Fleury were years of stability. This was largely attributable to his policies, and was not due to weakness as critics have said. Faction was kept under control until the very end of his life, in spite of the machinations of the Orléans and the Condé families, the Noailles, the Tencin, BelleIsle and Richelieu. The almost unwavering support for Fleury from Louis XV was crucial in enabling the Cardinal to preserve a balance between the factions and among the ministers. This support also ensured that instead of there being a struggle to replace the aged prelate, in which there seemed little prospect of success, there was a struggle to succeed him when he died. The contrast between this period and the one immediately following it is deeply revealing of the strengths and weaknesses of the political culture of the court society. On the basis of the previous discussion, we can now consider in more general terms the characteristics of politics in a court society.