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Cardinal Fleury was 73 years old when he began to govern France. He was cautious, peaceable, and a great diplomat. He did much for France during his 17 years in office.

France needed time to regain prosperity following the War of the Spanish Succession. When Louis XIV died in 1715, he left a five-year-old heir, Louis XV, and an unstable period of regency government ensued. On reaching the age of 16, Louis XV appointed Fleury, his tutor, as chief minister. Fleury's government encouraged industrial and commercial growth, reform of the state's finances, and codification of the law. He made sound alliances with foreign powers, and built up the French navy. Above all, Fleury's administration provided stability. However, his ignorance of working class problems caused growing resentment in this period.

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