King of Queen's
- Mar 4, 2011
Dans le Service de Sa Majesté
Dans le Service de Sa Majesté is the non-fiction book written by Henri-Maurice de Saint-Germain, an unauthorised and unofficial biography on Saint Germain's friend, the duc du Sully. It was written shortly after the 1828 election which brought Sully's ministry to an end. Although by far not a hagiography, it was written in an overall positive tone, most likely due to Saint Germain's friendship with the former leader of the French Government. Also uncharacteristically to Saint Germain, it was written with a foreword in the first person by the noted French author, a personal invitation from Saint Germain to the reader.
The foreword expresses how Saint Germain truly met Sully, outlining their first meeting. Although (the foreword states) there were more than a few casual meetings between Sully and Saint Germain with the Ultraroyaliste social circles of Paris, their first meeting was during the 1824 election in Marsailles. A key election pitting Henri-Maurice against the noted liberal (and fellow plebeian) M. Duval, the race actually began due to a personal invitation from the duc du Sully to compete within the race on the King's behalf. Henri-Maurice, amazed and entirely unexpected, did his filial duty towards the King. This took place via a letter, and Sully met with Saint Germain shortly after, expressing how he was going to invest a grand portion of funds into his race (although the amount is unknown, it is suspected by historians to be the hundreds of thousands of francs). This first meeting was immensely detailed, presenting the imposing but moderately dour figure of Sully as due.
The book then continues to Sully's life prior to politics. It outlines, clearly and with little embellishment, Sully's childhood as the third son of the wealthy Duc de Béthune, including Sully's stay in Vienna during the Revolutionary French era. It then details Sully's rise in the Austrian military, his ennoblement, and then move to the Russian military than return to France. Due to not being a biography written with Sully's input, little on the early days are expanded on besides their most basic facts while the battles portrayed are vague but grandiose in writing.
The real meat of the book comes during Sully's life in politics, especially following Henri-Maurice's own entrance to national politics. It all began with the formation of the Ultraroyaliste Order of Varennes in 1817, which introduced Sully to such figures as the marquis de Valence, the duc de Saint Aigan (whom Sully fought with in Russia), and the Archbishop of Reims, hugely influential figures within French society and (sometimes hyper) conservative politicians.
During Valence's ministry, Sully moved himself ably, playing off the various personalities that dominated much of the Ultraroyalistes. This section casts Valence as a bit of a dilettante, Saint Aigan as a thoroughly uprighteous individual, and the Archbishop of Reims as a heroic ultramonatist. Following the collapse of Valence in 1821, Sully's maneuvering paid off and he was awarded with the Presidency of the Council.
Sully's ministry is then taken apart carefully. Brilliances such as Sully's win in the battle of perception on the rather (in the eyes of the author) unneeded Spanish Intervention was important in securing immense goodwill and support for Sully, as well as his calling of an election just past the winning of said Intervention, allowing the maximal capitalisation on the good will. However Sully's flaws are also exposed, like his inaction at times to present himself and his ministry in the premier light by publicly defending his bills (although this is said to be less due to unwillingness and more due to the surprisingly sickly nature of Sully himself). Furthermore, Sully is shown to have been unable to herd the egos which dominated the Ultras, preventing their de facto dissolution in the face of inner turmoil. Lastly, Sully is honestly criticised for throwing himself on the sword needlessly over the government's poorly received censorship bill. Sully's retirement from the Presidency is outlined, and it is extrapolated that while he may continue living in Paris and being a member of the Chamber, it is very likely that politics may take a backseat (at least openly) to more civil pursuits.
The book was released by the Publications de la Maison d'Herbes in Paris, and was one of the more prideful productions by Henri-Maurice, who thought it a nice but fair judgement of his friend.