Louis Phélypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain

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Portrait of Louis Phélypeaux wearing the cross and star of the Order of the Holy Spirit

Louis Phélypeaux (29 March 1643 – 22 December 1727), marquis de Phélypeaux (1667), comte de Maurepas (1687), comte de Pontchartrain (1699), known as the chancellor de Pontchartrain, was a French politician.


After serving as head of the Parlement of Brittany, he held office as Controller-General of Finances and as Navy Secretary and, from 1690, Secretary of State of the Maison du Roi, owner of the chateau de Pontchartrain.

Long considered[who?] a failure, his reputation has been reevaluated by recent historiography[who?] which has shown that, in a period of difficulty, he was a capable administrator of an immense department which had responsibility for the French Navy, trade, colonies, matters of religion, Paris, the royal household and for finances. Nonetheless, his handling of the French Navy, a powerful force under Colbert and Seignelay, is criticised,[who?] and he is considered[who?] to be in part responsible for the defeat at the battles of Barfleur and La Hougue in 1692.

He conducted a census of the population from 1693 onward, the first since Vauban's of 1678. At court he was an opponent of Fénelon and the Quietists.

Phélypeaux served as Chancellor of France from 5 September 1699 to 1 July 1714. Historian François Bluche wrote that "he gave the Chancellor's office an importance and authority not seen since the early years of Pierre Séguier." Saint-Simon painted a flattering portrait of Phélypeaux in his diaries, and his discretion was appreciated by Louis XIV.

He was made clerk of the prestigious Order of the Holy Spirit in May 1700.

He resigned in 1714 for having failed to affix the seals to the decree of 5 July 1714, condemning a document by the Bishop of Metz, Henri-Charles de Coislin, as contrary to the papal bull Unigenitus. He had found it difficult to reconcile his religious beliefs with those of the increasingly authoritarian Louis XIV. He retired to an Oratorian institution where he died in 1727.

Personal life

In 1668 he married Marie de Maupeou. They had one son, Jérôme Phélypeaux (1674–1747), comte de Pontchartrain.


Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana was named after him, as well as the historic Hotel Pontchartrain in New Orleans.

In Michigan his name was given to Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit (the site of modern-day Detroit), and to Detroit's Hotel Pontchartrain.

Isle Phelipeaux, Isle Pontchartrain, and Isle Maurepas, which appear on early maps of Lake Superior, were named in his honor by Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix.[1] It was later determined that Phelipeaux did not actually exist, and it is uncertain whether Pontchartrain and/or Maurepas refer to real islands known today by other names.[2][1]

Blason Maurepas.png

See also


  • Sara E. Chapman, Private Ambition and Political Alliances the Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain Family and Louis XIV's Government, 1650-1715. Rochester N.Y. : University of Rochester Press, 2004. ISBN 1580461530.


  1. ^ a b "1743 Bellin Map of North America". Geographicus Rare Antique Maps. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  2. ^ Seymour I. Schwartz, The Mismapping of America. Rochester N.Y. : University of Rochester Press, 2003. Chapter 5 French Fantasies. 173-213.
Political offices
Preceded by
Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay
Secretary of State for the Navy
7 November 1683 – 6 September 1699
Succeeded by
Jérôme Phélypeaux
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