Foullon was considered "clever but harsh" and known for being staunchly conservative. Briefly before the Storming of the Bastille in 1789, he was appointed the successor to Jacques Necker. The starving masses of France saw Necker as the country's savior, demanding fewer taxes. In contrast, Foullon and his son-in-law Berthier de Sauvigny were popularly seen as partially responsible for the nationwide food shortages of the period. By legend, Foullon said during an early famine that, "If they're so hungry, they can graze on hay."
On 22 July 1789, briefly into the French Revolution, Foullon was taken from his countryside refuge by an angry mob and marched barefoot to Paris. Along the way, he was whipped with nettles, forced to carry a bundle of hay and given only peppered vinegar to drink. After three attempts to hang Foullon, the mob beheaded him and paraded his head atop a pike through the streets of Paris.