FLEURY, CLAUDE: French historian and ecclesiastic; b. at Paris Dec. 6, 1640; d. there July 14, 1723. He was educated at the college of Clermont, studied law, and for nine years practised as an advocate at Paris, where in 1674 he published his Histoire du droit français. Following the bent of his contemplative nature, however, and influenced by such men as Bossuet, he took orders, and was appointed tutor to the princes of Conti (1672), the count of Vermandois (1680), and the dukes of Burgoyne, Anjou, and Berry (1689). In 1683 he received the Cistercian abbey of Locdien in Rhodes and was elected to the Academy in 1696 as the successor of La Bruyère. He declined the proffered see of Montpellier, but in 1706 accepted from Louis XIV. the priory of Nôtre Dame d'Argenteuil, where he remained until 1716, when he was recalled to court as the confessor of Louis XV. This position he resigned in 1722, the year before his death. Fleury's reputation rests chiefly upon his Histoire ecclésiastique (20 vols., Paris, 1691-1720), a history of the Church to 1414, written with much detail and moderation of tone from a standpoint of pronounced Gallicanism, but marred by a lack of critical acumen. It was continued to 1778 by Jean Claude Faber and Alexandre la Croix, though with less happy results. In the middle of the nineteenth century the manuscript of Fleury's own continuation to 1517 was discovered at Paris and published in the latest edition of the entire work (Histoire ecclésiastique par l’Abbé Fleury, augmentée de quatre livres, 6 vols., Paris, 1640), but is far inferior in value to the preceding part of the work.
For his pupils, Fleury wrote Les Mæurs des Israélites (Paris, 1681; Eng. transl., The Manners of the Christians, . . . with Biographical Notes, Oxford, 1872); Les Mæeurs des Chrétiens (1682); and Grand catéchisme historique (1679). His Institution au droit ecclésiastique (Paris, 1692), like his Discours sur lee libertés de l'eglise gallicane (1690), is permeated by a spirit of firm Gallicanism. His pedagogical system was developed in his Traité du choix et de la méthode des etudes (1675). The minor works of Fleury were collected in his Opuscules (5 vols., Nimes, 1780-81).