Portrait of Guillaume Dubois (1656-1723), Chief Minister of the French Monarch (1715-1723), Archbishop of Cambrai (1720), Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church (1721)
Guillaume Dubois (6 September 1656 – 10 August 1723) was a French cardinal and statesman. When the Duc D'Orléans became regent (1715) Dubois, who had for some years acted as his secretary, was made councillor of state, and the chief power passed gradually into his hands. Dubois' policy was steadily directed towards maintaining the peace of Utrecht, and this made him the main opponent of the schemes of Cardinal Alberoni for the aggrandizement of Spain. To counteract Alberoni's intrigues, he suggested an alliance with Britain and in the face of great difficulties succeeded in negotiating the Triple Alliance (1717). In 1719 he sent armies into Spain as part of the Quadruple Alliance which forced Philip V to dismiss Alberoni. Otherwise his policy remained that of peace. Dubois' success strengthened him against the bitter opposition of a large section of the court. He prayed the regent to give him the archbishopric of Cambrai, the richest in France. This demand was supported by George I and the regent yielded. Dubois aimed for the Cardinal's hat because such an ecclesiastical title would give him the utmost prominence and precedence in the Conseil d'en haut, giving him the ability to remove his political adversaries with impunity. The regent was initially reluctant: though not himself a religious man, he could hardly regard Dubois as a suitable archbishop, at a time when the ambitious Claudine Guérin de Tencin was universally believed to be his mistress. In one day all the usual orders were conferred upon him, and even the great preacher Massillon consented to take part in the ceremonies. His next aim was the cardinalate, and, after long and most profitable negotiations on the part of Pope Clement XI, the red hat was given to him by Innocent XIII (1721), whose election was largely due to the bribes of Dubois. It is estimated that this cardinalate cost France about eight million francs. In the following year he was named first minister of France (August). He was soon after received at the Académie française; and he was named President of the Assembly of Clergy. When Louis XV attained his majority in 1723 Dubois remained chief minister. He had accumulated an immense private fortune (though nothing compared to the avaricious acquisition of wealth of Concini, Richelieu, Mazarin, Fouquet, and Colbert) possessing in addition to his see the revenues of seven abbeys. He was, however, a prey to the most terrible pains of body and agony of mind. His health was ruined by his debaucheries, and a surgical operation became necessary. This was almost immediately followed by his death, at Versailles, on 10 August 1723.
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