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Maurepas, Jean Frederic Phelypeaux, Comte De

MAUREPAS, JEAN FREDERIC PHELYPEAUX, COMTE DE (1701-1781), French statesman, was born on the gth of July 1701 at Versailles, being the son of Jer6me de Pontchartrain, secretary of state for the marine and the royal household. Maurepas succeeded to his father's charge at fourteen, and began his functions in the royal household at seventeen, while in 1725 he undertook the actual administration of the navy. Although essentially light and frivolous in character, Maurepas was seriously interested in scientific matters, and he used the best brains of France to apply science to questions of navigation and of naval construction. He was disgraced in 1749, and exiled from Paris for an epigram against Madame de Pompadour. On the accession of Louis XVI., twenty-five years later, he became a minister of state and Louis XVI. 's chief adviser. He gave Turgot the direction of finance, placed Lamoignon-Malesherbes over the royal household and made Vergennes minister for foreign affairs. At the outset of his new career he showed his weakness by recalling to their functions, in deference to popular clamour, the members of the old parlement ousted by Maupeou, thus reconstituting the most dangerous enemy of the royal power. This step, and his intervention on behalf of the American states, helped to pave the way for the French revolution. Jealous of his personal ascendancy over Louis XVI., he intrigued against Turgot, whose disgrace in 1776 was followed after six months of disorder by the appointment of Necker. In 1781 Maurepas deserted Necker as he had done Turgot, and he died at Versailles on the 21st of November 1781.

Maurepas is credited with contributions to the collection of facetiae known as the Etrennes de la Saint Jean (2nd ed., 1742). Four volumes of Memoires de Maurepas, purporting to be collected by his secretary and edited by J. L. G. Soulavie in 1792, must be regarded as apocryphal. Some of his letters were published in 1896 by the Soc. de I' hist, de Paris. His eloge in the Academy of Sciences was pronounced by Condorcet.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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