The clash soured Franco-American relations for the next several years, but it increased Chirac’s profile at home as the French praised him for standing up to what were seen as bullying tactics from Washington. But while the Iraq crisis gave Chirac high approval ratings for a while, by the end of his second term in 2007, his popularity had plummeted. Despite having spent his adult life as an elected public servant — he was Mayor of Paris and Prime Minister before becoming the second longest-serving president — Chirac’s final days in office were beset by allegations of misuse of public funds. Suffering poor health after what was reported as a minor stroke in 2005, the president started to slip quietly out of the public eye. In December 2011, a Paris court found Chirac guilty of embezzling public funds. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s by then and wasn’t even in court. He was handed a two-year suspended sentence. In 2016 he was hospitalized for a lung infection and his health had reportedly continued to deteriorate in recent years, leaving him increasingly frail.

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