FALLOUX DU COUDRAY, Frédéric Alfred Pierre, comte de
(1811-1886) Minister for Public Instruction and Religion during the Second Republic
Frédéric Falloux du Coudray was born in Angers on 7 May, 1811, into a family of merchants enobled by Louis XVIII in 1825 for their monarchical and clerical zeal. After studying at the college in Angers, Frédéric came up to Paris, and it was here that he made his entrance into society via Madame Swetchine, a Russian convert to Catholicism, who held a salon and who oversaw the young man's political education. At this time he moved in liberal, clerical circles, frequenting the likes of Montalembert and Lacordaire. He also began writing, publishing a history of Louis XVI in 1840, clearly marked by its excessively clerical position.
In 1842 he stood (unsuccessfully) for election as Député for the Maine-et-Loire département. Four years later he he stood for a second time, and on winning he took his seat in the Chambre amongst the legitimists championing the cause of freedom in education. Rallying to the Second Republic, he was elected to the Constituante, and it was as a direct result of his report that the "ateliers nationaux" were dismantled which in turn lead directly to the semaine sanglante. In December 1848, he entered Odilon Barrot's government as minister for Public Instruction and Religion. After re-election in May 1849, he resigned on 31 October in disagreement with Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte's policies towards the Vatican.
During his ten months as education minister, Falloux threw out Carnot's project for primary education and had a bill passed (which still bears his name) laying the foundations for freedom in primary and secondary education: «Any Frenchman, aged at least 25, can found an establishment for secondary education». The Falloux law was to be voted in by Falloux' successor Parieu. For Falloux, the system was simple: «God in education. The pope at the head of the church. The Church at the head of civilisation».
After the Coup d'Etat of 1851, Falluox was imprisioned for two days at Mont Valérien and he was then to retire to Anjou where he wrote for the liberal catholic newspaper, Le Correspondant.
In 1856 he was elected (as successor to Molé) to the Académie française, taking up seat n°34 on 26 March, 1857. In 1866, he attempted a return to politics standing, once again unsuccessfully, for the département, Maine-et-Loire mais échoue. He died in Angers on 6 January, 1886. His Mémoires d'un royaliste were to be published three years after his death.