The French politician and author Frédéric Alfred Pierre, comte de Falloux, was born in Angers on 11 May 1811. His father had been ennobled by King Charles X and Falloux began his career as a Legitimist and clerical journalist under the influence of Madame Swetchine. In 1846 he entered the legislature as deputy for Maine-et-Loire, and with many other ultra-Catholics he gave real or pretended support to the revolution of 1848. Louis-Napoleon made him minister of education in 1849, but disagreements with the president led to his resignation within a year.
He had nevertheless secured the passage of the Loi Falloux (15 March 1850) for the organization of primary and secondary education. This law provided that the clergy and members of ecclesiastical orders, male and female, might exercise the profession of teaching without producing any further qualification. This exemption was extended even to priests who taught in secondary schools, where a university degree was exacted from lay teachers. Falloux was elected to the Académie française in 1856.
His failure to secure re-election to the legislature in 1866, 1869, 1870 and 1871 was due to the opposition of the stricter Legitimists, who viewed with suspicion his attempts to reconcile the Orléans princes with Henri, comte de Chambord. In spite of his failure to enter the National Assembly he still exercised great influence, which was increased by his personal friendship with Adolphe Thiers. However, in 1872 he offended both sections of the monarchical party at a conference arranged in the hope of effecting a fusion between the partisans of the comte de Chambord and of the Orléans princes, divided on the vexed question of the flag. He suggested that the comte de Chambord might recede from his position with dignity at the desire of the National Assembly, and not content with this encroachment on royalist principles, he insinuated the possibility of a transitional stage with the duc d'Aumale as president of the republic. His disgrace was so complete that he was excommunicated by the Bishop of Angers in 1876.
Of his numerous works the best known are his Histoire de Louis XVI (1840); Histoire de Saint Pie (1845); De la contrerevolution (1876); and the posthumous Mémoire d'un royaliste (2 vols., 1888).
The comte de Falloux died at Angers on 16 January 1886.
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