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Henri IV - An unfinished reign

Institutions: the King's Council

The king did not rule alone. He gathered a certain number of persons around him in the form of the King's Council (Conseil du roi), also known as the Conseil d’État, the Conseil des parties or the Conseil privé (Privy Council). In theory, the king was free to choose the Council members. In reality, tradition meant that certain people, such as princes of the blood, pairs, great officers of the crown and cardinals often claimed the right to a seat on the Council.

At the beginning of his reign, circumstances did not allow Henri IV to reorganise the Council. However, once the kingdom had been brought under control and peace was more or less achieved, i.e. between 1594 and 1598, Henri began reform efforts. He created three special subcouncils, which remained in place even after his reign. The first was the Conseil des Parties, which regulated disputes between individuals. In 1594, he created the Conseil des Finance, which was merged with the Conseil d'Etat and became the Conseil d’État et des Finances in 1596. This body was in charge of financial affairs as well as cases that the Conseil des Parties referred to it. Finally, the most important and confidential affairs were dealt with by the Conseil des Affaires, whose members were chosen exclusively by the king.

Related multimedia

Title: Grand Règlement of the Conseil des Finances

Grand Règlement of the Conseil des Finances
© Archives nationales
Caption:
Grand Règlement of the Conseil des Finances (25 novembre 1594, handwritten copy, 8 pages) © Archives nationales, 120 AP 29 f. 1 à 8.

Title: Alleged portrait of chancelier Nicolas Brulart de Sillery

Alleged portrait of chancelier Nicolas Brulart de Sillery
© RMN / Jean-Gilles Berizzi
Caption:
Alleged portrait of chancelier Nicolas Brulart de Sillery (1544–1624), by Daniel Dumonstier. Musée du Louvre, INV26366

Title: Portrait of Pomponne de Bellièvre, chancelier de France

Portrait of Pomponne de Bellièvre, chancelier de France
© RMN /René-Gabriel Ojéda
Caption:
Portrait of Pomponne de Bellièvre, chancelier de France, by Thierry Bellange, 17th century. Musée du château de Pau, P.78.9.1.19

Title: Portrait of the duc de Sully

Portrait of the duc de Sully
© RMN / René-Gabriel Odéja
Caption:
Portrait of the duc de Sully, by Daniel Dumonstier. Musée du Louvre, RF1435

Title: Henri IV and his ministers

Henri IV and his ministers
© BnF
Caption:
Henri IV and his ministers. In: L’Histoire de France by M. Guizot. Département des estampes et de la photographie de la BnF
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