chapter  2
THE ACQUISITION OF A MINISTERIAL POST 1721–3
Pages 18

The bewildering proliferation of factional conflict in the last two years of the Regency created a situation which is so complicated that it almost defies attempts at coherent analysis. In the past, historians have tended to neglect almost entirely the state of the factions at that time and overlook the existence of an increasingly vehement opposition to d’Orléans-probably because his sudden death in December 1723 occurred before it brought about a reduction in the extent of his influence.1 Although the due d’Orléans died before effective steps could be taken to curtail his power, his ministry was in danger of complete and imminent defeat in 1723, after Dubois’ death. It was his awareness of the dangers of this situation that led the Regent, first prince of the blood, to revive the commission of premier ministre which is a feature of the royal government during the second quarter of the eighteenth century. (Fleury was not of, course, able to hold such an office by that name, but he did have all the attributes of the position, and the term was frequently used to describe him.) Equally, it was the instability of the situation which gave Fleury the chance to advance himself from preceptor to minister.