Villèle, Jean Baptiste Séraphin Joseph, comte de (zhäN bätēstˈ sāräfăNˈ zhôzĕfˈ kôNt də vēlĕlˈ) [key], 1773–1854, French statesman and premier (1822–28). Elected (1815) a deputy after the Bourbon restoration, he became leader of the extreme royalists in the chamber of deputies. He entered the ministry of the duc de Richelieu in 1820, and in 1822 King Louis XVIII named him president of the council, or premier. He stabilized France's finances to such a degree that they remained sound until the 20th cent. His reactionary government suppressed press freedom, intervened (1823) in Spain against Spanish revolutionaries, prolonged (1824) the term of the chamber of deputies from four to seven years, gave the Roman Catholic Church increasing control of education, and indemnified (1825) the émigrés for lands confiscated during the French Revolution. Assailed in 1827 by both the liberals and the extreme ultraroyalists, who found his methods too slow, he dissolved the chamber. He was defeated in the new elections and resigned.
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