Superintendent of Finances

The surintendant des Finances was the chief official of the French tax authorities in the Ancien Régime the years 1561-1661; his job was in the statement of government spending. In his roles, he is the later Finance Minister comparable. The Office was dissolved in 1661 after the fall of Nicolas Fouquet and replaced by the new position of Contrôleur général des finances (General Controller of Finance).


From the time of King Charles VII (reigned 1422-1461 ) to the creation of the position of the Surintendanten were French royal finances managed by two financial boards which worked together collegially:

Together, they were often referred to as Messieurs des finances. The four members of each Council divided the country geographically among themselves, or générales Généralités in Recettes (initially Languedoïl, Languedoc, Normandy, and Outre -Seine and Yonne ), the authority responsible for the Languedoil officials typically had a somewhat prominent place. The double council was supported in its work by four controleur généraux.

Until 1523/24 the influence of the Conseil du Roi on the daily operations of financial officials was low. 1523 directed King Francis I. to his direct authority subordinate Trésor de l' Epargne one, another royal treasury, to win in the current times of war direct control over royal finances while the Doppelrat, which in these things lack of overview was accused of to deal ( similar institutions had existed in earlier times ). The results of these reforms, however, were disappointing. Over the next 40 years, numerous attempts have been made to rework:

  • Increasing the number of Généralités (eg 1542, 1558 )
  • Appointment of two " controleur généraux " which were subject to the royal treasurer
  • Changes in the royal courts of financial ( the Cour des Comptes and the Cour des Aides )
  • Appointment of a number of provincial finance officers and councils
  • Appointment of financial director ( director of finances ) ( 1552)

However, a result of the reform was an increase in the influence of the Conseil du Roi on government finances, which a number of high nobles (eg Anne de Montmorency, Charles de Lorraine ) were given greater emphasis on financial matters.

The most important officials in this period were:

Surintendant des finances

The office of " surintendant des finances " was in 1561 by King Charles IX. created. It grew from the post of director, which was established in 1552 by Henry II to ensure the monitoring of the royal finances during the journey of the monarch to Germany. Three directors were appointed, one of whom was a member of the Conseil d' État - and from this special position out then developed the office of Surintendanten but which was also occupied at the start with two people: Arthur de Cossé - Brissac and Louis d ' Ongnyes, comte de Chaulnes. 1567 Cossé was appointed Marshal of France, after which he resigned ( and presumably also the Comte de Chaulnes ) in favor of René de Birague. This then was the first sole surintendant.

After 1570 the office was replaced by the Conseil royal des finances, the Royal Fiscal Council, but, King Henry III. 1574 the old state is restored. King Henry IV sent a further a Fiscal, a Surintendanten there were then only with periodic interruptions.

On September 5, 1661, the surintendant Nicolas Fouquet was arrested for embezzlement, the Office again replaced on 12 September by a Fiscal, which a Director of Finances board, Jean -Baptiste Colbert, who then was Contrôleur général des finances later.

To the list of Surintendants des finances see: List of Finance Ministers of France for the years 1561-1661