Jean Baptiste Seraphin Joseph De Villele, count, a French statesman, born in Toulouse, Aug. 14,1773, died there, March 13,1854. He entered the navy, married in the island of Bourbon (Reunion), became a member of the colonial assembly, and in 1803 returned to France with a fortune. From 1815 he was for several years mayor of Toulouse and member for that city of the chamber of deputies, where he was a recognized leader of the ultra-royalists. In December, 1820, he was appointed minister without portfolio, and in December, 1821, minister of finance. On Sept. 7, 1822, he was made president of the council with the portfolio of foreign affairs, having previously received the title of count. Among the first important incidents of his administration was the military expedition to Spain in 1823 for the restoration of Ferdinand VII., which he had in vain resisted. After the accession of Charles X. (1824) he retained his influence at court, which became fatal to the monarchy, as his ultramontane and ultra-royalist policy paved the way for its final overthrow. In 1825 he succeeded, against much opposition, in securing an indemnity of 1,000,000,000 francs to the emigrants whose property had been confiscated during the revolution, and in reducing the interest on the public debt.
He placed the public credit on a firmer basis, and from the Haytians he secured in 1825 an indemnity of 150,000,000 francs (later reduced to 90,000,000) as a condition for the recognition of their independence. But his creation of a new ecclesiastical ministry, the admission of bishops to the council of state, his partiality for the Jesuits, and his abortive attempts to restore the rights of primogeniture and to muzzle the press, subjected him to popular insults on the occasion of the king's review of the national guards, April 29, 1827. That corps as well as the chamber being thereupon dissolved, and the restriction of the press and other obnoxious measures being sanctioned by the new chamber, Villele succumbed to the public exasperation in January, 1828, and was succeeded by Martignac. After the revolution of July, 1830, he retired to private life.