chapter  3
THE MINISTRY OF THE DUC DE BOURBON, 1723–6
Pages 24

Even so, a re-examination of the Bourbon administration is not without interest in its own right. Early historians of this short period, focusing their attention on the political failure of Bourbon, and taking their evidence too much from memoirs and not enough from archives, have generally been content with condemning what they saw as his ineptitude or stupidity. His government has been characterised as the reign of a dissolute mistress, Mme de Prie, and corrupt financiers, the Pâris brothers. The textbook myths in history die hard and, in spite of the now dated but still excellent study of foreign policy by Dureng, which does much to revise these opinions, more recent works have adhered to the original interpretation. The present chapter has therefore been written in the awareness that this administration is in need of a general reassessment. With the integration of a considerable body of new evidence into the broad explanation of the fall of Bourbon (or rise of Fleury), some old judgements are bound to be revised. From under the archival dust, a new picture emerges.