The charges against him were never a surprise (he did work in politics for decades, after all) but his conviction was a surprise considering his old age and the old-boy network that exists. I'm less convinced that this will be remembered for the most, because many already suspected as much for him and the rest of the political class to begin with. His fight against the Iraq war is much more likely to be what people remember about him in France and beyond. Does his corruption conviction really change anything? The Guardian:
Jacques Chirac may have hoped to be remembered as the dapper president and diplomatic heavyweight who retired from the world stage to become the unofficial grandfather of his nation. A man of "flesh and blood and principles … employed in the service of his country," as he put it. Instead, his place in French history has been seriously tarnished after a Paris court convicted him of embezzling public funds and gave him a two-year suspended prison sentence on corruption charges. Posterity may judge that the former president's greatest achievement was not taking France into the euro or opposing the Iraq war, but inadvertently shining a light on the cronyism and corruption that have long dogged French politics.