Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

From New World Encyclopedia

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Portrait by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (1817)

Ambassador of France to the United Kingdom
In office
September 6, 1830 – November 13, 1834
Preceded by Pierre de Montmercy-Laval
Succeeded by Horace Sébastiani de La Porta

1st Prime Minister of France
In office
July 9, 1815 – September 26, 1815
Succeeded by Armand-Emmanuel de Vignerot du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu

Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
May 13, 1814 – March 19, 1815
Preceded by Antoine de Laforêt
Succeeded by Louis de Caulaincourt
In office
November 22, 1799 – August 9, 1807
Preceded by Charles-Frédéric Reinhard
Succeeded by Jean-Baptiste de Nompère de Champagny
In office
July 15, 1797 – July 20, 1799
Preceded by Charles-François Delacroix
Succeeded by Charles-Frédéric Reinhard

Member of the National Constituent Assembly
In office
July 9, 1789 – September 30, 1791

Deputy to the Estates-General
for the First Estate
In office
April 12, 1789 – July 9, 1789

Born February 2 1754(1754-02-02)
Paris, Kingdom of France
Died 17 May 1838 (aged 84)
Paris, Kingdom of France
Political party Independent (1789–1799)

Bonapartist (1799–1813)
Royalist (1814–1815)
Doctrinaires (1815–1830)

Alma mater University of Paris
Profession Clergyman, politician, diplomat
Signature Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord's signature

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (/ˌtælɪrænd ˈpɛrɪɡɔːr/, French: [ʃaʁl mɔʁis də tal(ɛ)ʁɑ̃ peʁiɡɔʁ, – moʁ-]; February 2, 1754 – May 17, 1838), 1st Prince of Benevento, then Prince of Talleyrand, was a French clergyman, politician and leading diplomat. After studying theology, he became Agent-General of th2 e Clergy in 1780. In 1789, just before the French Revolution, he became Bishop of Autun. He worked at the highest levels of successive French governments, most commonly as foreign minister or another diplomatic capacity. His career spanned the regimes of Louis XVI, the years of the French Revolution, Napoleon, Louis XVIII, and Louis-Philippe. He was sometimes distrusted by those he served but, like Napoleon, his talents made him extremely useful. The name "Talleyrand" has become a byword for crafty, cynical diplomacy.

He was Napoleon's chief diplomat during the years when French military victories brought one European state after another under French hegemony. He succeeded in obtaining peace with Austria through the 1801 Treaty of Lunéville and with Britain in the 1802 Treaty of Amiens. He could not prevent the renewal of war in 1803 but by 1805 he opposed his emperor's renewed wars against Austria, Prussia, and Russia. He resigned as foreign minister in August 1807, but retained the trust of Napoleon. He conspired to undermine the emperor's plans through secret dealings with Tsar Alexander of Russia and Austrian minister Metternich. Talleyrand sought a negotiated secure peace in order to perpetuate the gains of the French revolution. Napoleon rejected peace and, when he fell in 1814, Talleyrand supported the Bourbon Restoration decided by the Allies. He played a major role at the Congress of Vienna in 1814–1815, where he negotiated a favorable settlement for France and played a role in unwinding the conquests of Napoleon.

Early life

Talleyrand was born in Paris into an aristocratic family which, though ancient and illustrious, was not particularly prosperous. His father, Count Charles Daniel de Talleyrand-Périgord, was 20 years of age when Charles was born. His mother was Alexandrine de Damas d'Antigny. Both his parents held positions at court, but as the youngest children of their respective families, had no significant income. Talleyrand's father had a long career in the Army, reaching the rank of lieutenant general, as did his uncle, Gabriel Marie de Périgord, despite having the same infirmity.

From childhood, Talleyrand walked with a limp, which caused him to later be called le diable boiteux[1] (French for "the lame devil") among other nicknames. In his Memoirs, he linked this infirmity to an accident at age four, but recent research suggests that his limp was congenital.[2] In any case, his handicap made him unable to follow his father into a military career, leaving the obvious career of the Church.

The latter held out the hope for Charles-Maurice of succeeding his uncle, Alexandre Angélique de Talleyrand-Périgord, then Archbishop of Reims, one of the most prestigious and richest dioceses in France.[3] At eight years old, Talleyrand attended the Collège d'Harcourt, the seminary of Saint-Sulpice,[4] while studying theology at the Sorbonne until the age of 21. In his free time he read the works of Montesquieu, Voltaire, and other writers who were beginning to undermine the authority of the Ancien Régime, both in church and state. As subdeacon he witnessed the coronation of Louis XVI at Reims in 1775.[5]

He was not ordained a priest until four years later, on December 19, 1779, at the age of 25.[6]Soon after, in 1780, he attained the influential position of Agent-General of the Clergy,[7] and was instrumental in promoting a general inventory of Church properties in France as of 1785, along with a defense of "inalienable rights of the Church," a stance he was later to deny. In 1788, the influence of Talleyrand's father and family overcame the King's dislike and obtained his appointment as Bishop of Autun, with a stipend of 22,000 livres. He was consecrated a bishop on January 4, 1789 by Louis-André de Grimaldi.[6] The undoubtedly able Talleyrand, though hardly devout and even free-thinking in the Enlightenment mold. As a young mad he made a pilgrimage to visit the dying Voltaire.[8] Still, he remained outwardly respectful of religious observance. In the course of the Revolution, however, he was to manifest his cynicism and abandon all orthodox Catholic practice. He resigned his bishopric on April 13, 1791.[6] On June 29, 1802, Pope Pius VII laicized Talleyrand, an event most uncommon at the time in the history of the Church.[6][9]

French Revolution

On February 14th, 1787, Talleyrand was summoned to Versailles by the Controller-General, Charles Alexandre de Calonne. Calonne had convinced the King to call the Assembly of Notables as part of an effort to address the country's financial crisis. Calonne wanted Talleyrand to help draft a memorandum to present to the Assembly.[10] When that plan failed, the King was persuaded to call the Estates General of 1789, which Talleyrand would attend representing the clergy, the First Estate. During the French Revolution, Talleyrand strongly supported the anti-clericalism of the revolutionaries. Along with Mirabeau, he promoted the appropriation of Church properties.[11] He participated in the writing of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and proposed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy that nationalized the Church in preference to allegiance to the Pope, and swore in the first four constitutional bishops, even though he had himself resigned as Bishop following his excommunication by Pope Pius VI in 1791. During the Fête de la Fédération on July 14, 1790, Talleyrand celebrated Mass. Notably, he promoted public education in full spirit of the Enlightenment by preparing a 216-page Report on Public Instruction. It proposed pyramidical structure rising through local, district, and departmental schools, parts of which were later adopted.[12] During his 5 month tenure in the Estates-General, Talleyrand was also involved in drawing up the police regulations of Paris, proposed the suffrage of Jews, supported a ban on the tithes and invented a method to ensure loans.[13] Few bishops followed him in obedience to the new decree, and much of the French clergy came to view him as schismatic.[14]

The oath of La Fayette at the Fête de la Fédération, 14 July 1790. Talleyrand, then Bishop of Autun, can be seen at the extreme right. French School, 18th century. Musée Carnavalet.

Just before his resignation from the bishopric, Talleyrand had been elected, with Mirabeau and the Abbé Sieyès, a member of the department of Paris. In that capacity he worked for some eighteen months to support the cause of order in the turbulent capital. Though he was often on strained terms with Mirabeau, their views generally coincided. Before he died is said to have advised Talleyrand to develop a close understanding with England.[14]

In 1792, he was sent twice, unofficially, to London to avert war, and he was cordially received by Pitt and Grenville. After his first visit, he persuaded the then foreign minister, Charles François Dumouriez, of the importance of having a fully accredited ambassador in London. The marquis de Chauvelin was duly appointed, with Talleyrand as his deputy.[14] Still, after an initial British declaration of neutrality during the first campaigns of 1792, his mission ultimately failed. In September 1792, he left Paris for England just at the beginning of the September Massacres. The National Convention issued a warrant for his arrest in December 1792. In March 1794, with the two countries at the brink of war, he was forced to leave Britain by Pitt's expulsion order. He then went to the neutral country of the United States where he stayed until his return to France in 1796. During his stay, he supported himself by working as a bank agent, involved in commodity trading and real estate speculation. He was a house guest of Aaron Burr of New York and collaborated with Theophile Cazenove in Philadelphia.[15] Burr would later seek similar refuge in Talleyrand's home during his self-imposed European exile (1808–12); however, Talleyrand would refuse to return the favor. Burr killed Talleyrand's friend Alexander Hamilton in an 1804 duel.[16]

French Directory

After 9 Thermidor, he mobilized his friends (most notably the abbé Martial Borye Desrenaudes and Germaine de Staël) to lobby in the National Convention and the newly established Directoire for his return. His name was suppressed from the émigré list and he returned to France on September 25, 1796. After gaining attention by giving addresses on the value of commercial relations with England, and of colonization as a way of renewing the nation, he became Foreign Minister in July 1797. He was behind the demand for bribes in the XYZ Affair which escalated into the Quasi-War, an undeclared naval war with the United States, 1798–1800. Talleyrand saw a possible political career for Napoleon during the Italian campaigns of 1796 to 1797. He wrote many letters to Napoleon, and the two became close allies. Talleyrand was against the destruction of the Republic of Venice, but he complimented Napoleon when the Treaty of Campo Formio with Austria was concluded (Venice was given to Austria), probably because he wanted to reinforce his alliance with Napoleon. Later in 1797, Talleyrand was instrumental in assisting with the Coup of 18 Fructidor, which ousted two moderate members of the Directory in favor of the Jacobins headed by Paul Barras.[17]

Under Napoleon

Talleyrand, along with Napoleon's younger brother, Lucien Bonaparte, was instrumental in the 1799 coup d'état of 18 Brumaire, establishing the French Consulate government, although he also made preparations for flight, if necessary. He also persuaded Barras to resign as Director. Talleyrand was soon made Foreign Minister by Napoleon, although he rarely agreed with Napoleon's foreign policy. Domestically, Talleyrand used his influence to help in the repeal of the strict laws against émigrés, refractory clergy, and the royalists of the west.[17] The Pope released him from the ban of excommunication in the Concordat of 1801, which also revoked the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. Talleyrand was instrumental in the completion of the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. He wanted Napoleon to keep peace afterwards, as he thought France had reached its maximum expansion.

Talleyrand was an integral player in the German mediatization. While the Treaty of Campo Formio of 1797 had stripped German princes of their lands beyond the left bank of the Rhine, it was not enforced until the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801. As the French annexed these lands, leaders believed that rulers of states such as Baden, Bavaria, Württemberg, Prussia, Hesse and Nassau, who lost territories on the Left Bank, should receive new territories on the Right Bank through the secularization of ecclesiastical principalities. Many of these rulers gave out bribes in order to secure new lands, and Talleyrand and some of his associates amassed about 10 million francs in the process. This was the first blow in the destruction of the Holy Roman Empire.[18]

While helping to establish French supremacy in neighboring states and assisting Bonaparte in securing the title of Premier Consul for life, Talleyrand sought all means of securing the permanent welfare of France. He worked hard to prevent the rupture of the peace of Amiens which occurred in May 1803, and he did what he could to prevent the Louisiana Purchase earlier in the year. These events, as he saw them, were against the best interests of France and endangered the gains which she had secured by war and diplomacy. Thereafter he strove to moderate Napoleon's ambition and to preserve the European system as far as possible.[17]

Napoleon forced Talleyrand into marriage in September 1802 to longtime mistress Catherine Grand (née Worlée). Talleyrand purchased the Château de Valençay in May 1803, at the urging of Napoleon. This later was used as the site of imprisonment of the Spanish Royalty in 1808–1813, after Napoleon's invasion of Spain.

In May 1804, Napoleon bestowed upon Talleyrand the title of Grand Chamberlain of the Empire, with almost 500,000 francs a year. In 1806, he was made Sovereign Prince of Benevento (or Bénévent), a former papal fief in southern Italy. Talleyrand held the title until 1815 and administered the principality concurrently with his other tasks.[19]

Talleyrand was opposed to the harsh treatment of Austria in the 1805 Treaty of Pressburg and of Prussia in the Peace of Tilsit in 1807. In 1806, after Pressburg, he profited greatly from the reorganization of the German lands, this time into the Confederation of the Rhine. He negotiated the Treaty of Posen with Saxony, but was shut out completely from the negotiations at Tilsit. After Queen Louise of Prussia failed in her appeal to Napoleon to spare her nation, she wept and was consoled by Talleyrand. This gave him a good name among the elites of European nations outside France.

Changing sides

Portrait of Talleyrand as Grand Chamberlain of France by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, 1807

Weary of serving a master in whom he no longer had confidence, Talleyrand resigned as minister of foreign affairs in 1807, although the Emperor retained him in the Council of State as Vice-Grand Elector of the Empire.[20] He disapproved of Napoleon's Spanish initiative, which resulted in the Peninsular War beginning in 1808. At the Congress of Erfurt in September–October 1808, Talleyrand secretly counseled Tsar Alexander. The Tsar's attitude towards Napoleon was one of apprehensive opposition. Talleyrand repaired the confidence of the Russian monarch, who rebuked Napoleon's attempts to form a direct anti-Austrian military alliance. Napoleon had expected Talleyrand to help him convince the Tsar to accept his proposals and never discovered that Talleyrand was working against him. Talleyrand believed Napoleon would eventually destroy the empire he had worked to build across multiple rulers.[21]

After his resignation in 1807 from the ministry, Talleyrand accepted bribes from hostile powers (mainly Austria, but also Russia) to betray Napoleon's secrets.[22] Talleyrand and Joseph Fouché, who were typically enemies in both politics and the salons, had a rapprochement in late 1808 and entered into discussions over the imperial line of succession. Napoleon had yet to address this matter and the two men knew that without a legitimate heir a struggle for power would erupt in the wake of Napoleon's death. Even Talleyrand, who believed that Napoleon's policies were leading France to ruin, understood the necessity of peaceful transitions of power. Napoleon received word of their actions and deemed them treasonous. This perception caused the famous dressing down of Talleyrand in front of Napoleon's marshals, during which Napoleon famously claimed that he could "break him like a glass, but it's not worth the trouble" and added with a scatological tone that Talleyrand was "shit in a silk stocking,"[23] to which the minister coldly retorted, once Napoleon had left, "Pity that so great a man should have been so badly brought up!"

Talleyrand opposed the further harsh treatment of Austria in 1809 after the War of the Fifth Coalition. He was also a critic of the French invasion of Russia in 1812. He was invited to resume his former office in late 1813, but Talleyrand could see that power was slipping from Napoleon's hands. He offered to resign from the council in early 1814, but Napoleon refused the move. Talleyrand then hosted the Tsar at the end of March after the fall of Paris, persuaded him that the best chance of stability lay with the House of Bourbon, gaining his support.[24] On April 1, 1814 he led the French Senate in establishing a provisional government in Paris, of which he was elected president. On April 2 the Senate officially deposed Napoleon with the Acte de déchéance de l'Empereur; by April 11 it had approved the Treaty of Fontainebleau and adopted a new constitution to re-establish the Bourbon monarchy.

Bourbon Restoration and July Monarchy

An 1815 caricature of Talleyrand – L'Homme aux six têtes (The man with six heads), referring to his prominent role in six different regimes
Elderly Talleyrand, 1828

When Napoleon was succeeded by Louis XVIII in April 1814, Talleyrand was one of the key agents of the restoration of the House of Bourbon, although he opposed the new legislation of Louis' rule. Talleyrand was the chief French negotiator at the Congress of Vienna. Earlier that same year he signed the Treaty of Paris. It was due in part to his skills that the terms of the treaty were remarkably lenient towards France. As the Congress opened, the right to make decisions was restricted to four countries: Austria, the United Kingdom, Prussia, and Russia. France and other European countries were invited to attend, but were not allowed to influence the process. Talleyrand promptly became the champion of the small countries and demanded their admission into the ranks of the decision-making process. The four powers admitted France and Spain to the decision-making backrooms of the conference after a good deal of diplomatic maneuvering by Talleyrand, who had the support of the Spanish representative, Pedro Gómez Labrador, Marquis of Labrador. Spain was excluded after a while (a result of both the Marquis of Labrador's incompetence as well as the quixotic nature of Spain's agenda), but France (Talleyrand) was allowed to participate until the end. Russia and Prussia sought to enlarge their territory at the Congress. Russia demanded annexation of Poland (already occupied by Russian troops), and this demand was finally satisfied, despite protests by France, Austria and the United Kingdom. Austria was afraid of future conflicts with Russia or Prussia and the United Kingdom was opposed to their expansion as well. Talleyrand managed to take advantage of these contradictions within the former anti-French coalition. On January 3, 1815, a secret treaty was signed by France's Talleyrand, Austria's Metternich and Britain's Castlereagh. By this tract, officially a secret treaty of defensive alliance,[25] the three powers agreed to use force if necessary to "repulse aggression" (of Russia and Prussia) and to protect the "state of security and independence."

Talleyrand managed to establish a middle position, receiving some favors from the other countries in exchange for his support: France returned to its 1792 boundaries without reparations, with French control over papal Avignon, Montbéliard (Mompelgard) and Salm, which had been independent at the start of the French Revolution in 1789. It would later be debated which outcome would have been better for France: allowing Prussia to annex all of Saxony (Talleyrand ensured that only part of the kingdom would be annexed) or the Rhine provinces. The first option would have kept Prussia farther away from France, but would have needed much more opposition as well. Some historians have argued that Talleyrand's diplomacy wound up establishing the faultlines of World War I, especially as it allowed Prussia to engulf small German states west of the Rhine. This simultaneously placed Prussian armed forces at the French-German frontier for the first time, making Prussia the largest German power in terms of territory, population and the industry of the Ruhr and Rhineland. Eventually it helped pave the way to German unification under the Prussian throne. However, at the time Talleyrand's diplomacy was regarded as successful, as it removed the threat of the partitioning of France by the victors. Talleyrand also managed to strengthen his own position in France (ultraroyalists had disapproved of the presence of a former "revolutionary" and "murderer of the Duke d'Enghien" in the royal cabinet).

Napoleon's return

Napoleon's return to France in 1815 and his subsequent defeat, the Hundred Days, was a reverse for the diplomatic victories of Talleyrand (who remained in Vienna the whole time). The second peace settlement was markedly less lenient and it was fortunate for France that the business of the Congress had been concluded. Having been appointed foreign minister and president of the council on July 9, 1815, Talleyrand resigned in September of that year over his objections to the second treaty. Louis XVIII appointed him as the Grand Chamberlain of France, a mostly ceremonial role which provided Talleyrand with a steady income. For the next fifteen years he restricted himself to the role of "elder statesman," criticizing and intriguing against Minister of Police Élie, duc Decazes, Prime Minister Duc de Richelieu and other political opponents from the sidelines. In celebration of the birth of Duc de Bordeaux, Louis XVIII made Talleyrand a knight of the Order of the Holy Spirit.[26]

Ambassador to the UK

In December 1829, Talleyrand funded the foundation of the National newspaper. The newspaper was run by his personal friend Adolphe Thiers, along with Armand Carrel, François Mignet and Stendhal. Its first issue appeared on January 3, 1830. It quickly became the mouthpiece of the Orléanist cause, gaining popularity among the French liberal bourgeoisie.[27] Following the ascent of King Louis-Philippe to the throne in the aftermath of the July Revolution of 1830, Talleyrand reluctantly agreed to become ambassador to the United Kingdom,[28] a post he held from 1830 to 1834. In this role, he strove to reinforce the legitimacy of Louis-Philippe's regime. He played a vital role in the London Conference of 1830, rebuking a partition plan developed by his son Charles de Flahaut and helping bring Leopold Saxe-Coburg to the throne of the newly independent Kingdom of Belgium.[29] In April 1834 he crowned his diplomatic career by signing the treaty which brought together as allies France, Great Britain, Spain and Portugal.[24]

Later years

After resigning from his position as ambassador in London in November 1834, Talleyrand stopped playing an active role in French politics. He split his time between Château de Valençay and Saint-Florentin, where he hosted frequent banquets and played whist with his visitors. His physical health began to steadily deteriorate and he began using an armchair on wheels provided to him by Louis Philippe I. He spent most of his time in the company of the Duchess Dino and concerned himself with the education of her daughter Pauline.[30] Talleyrand suffered from bouts of recurring depression which were caused by his concern over his legacy and the development of the Napoleonic myth. To that end he ordered that his autobiography, the Memoirs, be published 30 years after his death. He also sought to gain the friendship of people he believed would shape public opinion in the future, including Honoré de Balzac, Lady Granville and Alphonse de Lamartine.[31]

Near the end of his life, Talleyrand became interested in Catholicism again while teaching his young granddaughter simple prayers. Talleyrand began planning his reconciliation with the Catholic Church. The Abbé Félix Dupanloup came to Talleyrand in his last hours, and according to his account Talleyrand made confession and received extreme unction. When the abbé tried to anoint Talleyrand's palms, as prescribed by the rite, he turned his hands over to make the priest anoint him on the back of the hands, since he was a bishop. He also signed, in the abbé's presence, a solemn declaration in which he openly disavowed "the great errors which . . . had troubled and afflicted the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church, and in which he himself had had the misfortune to fall."[32]

On May 16, 1838, he signed a retraction of his errors towards the church and a letter of submission to Pope Gregory XVI. He died the following day at 3:55 p.m., at Saint-Florentin,[33] and was buried in Notre-Dame Chapel,[34] near his Castle of Valençay.

Private life

Talleyrand had a reputation as a voluptuary and a womanizer. He left no legitimate children, though he possibly fathered over two dozen illegitimate ones. Four possible children of his have been identified: Charles Joseph, comte de Flahaut, generally accepted to be an illegitimate son of Talleyrand; the painter Eugène Delacroix, once rumored to be Talleyrand's son, though this is doubted by historians who have examined the issue (for example, Léon Noël, French ambassador); the "Mysterious Charlotte", possibly his daughter by his future wife, Catherine Worlée Grand; and Pauline, ostensibly the daughter of the Duke and Duchess Dino. Of these four, only the first is given credence by historians. However, the French historian Emmanuel de Waresquiel has lately given much credibility to father-daughter link between Talleyrand and Pauline whom he referred to as "my dear Minette." Thaddeus Stevens "suffered too from the rumor that he was actually the bastard son of Count Talleyrand, who was said to have visited New England in the year before Stevens' birth.... Actually Talleyrand did not visit New England till 1794, when Stevens was already two years old."[35]

Aristocratic women were a key component of Talleyrand's political tactics, both for their influence and their ability to cross borders unhindered. His presumed lover Germaine de Staël was a major influence on him, and he on her. Though their personal philosophies were most different (she a romantic, he very much unsentimental), she assisted him greatly, most notably by lobbying Barras to permit Talleyrand to return to France from his American exile, and then to have him made foreign minister. He lived with Catherine Worlée, born in India and married there to Charles Grand. She had traveled about before settling in Paris in the 1780s, where she lived as a notorious courtesan for several years before divorcing Grand to marry Talleyrand. Talleyrand was in no hurry to marry. It was only after repeated postponements that Napoleon obliged him in 1802 to formalize the relationship or risk his political career. While serving as a high level negotiator at the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815), Talleyrand entered into an arrangement with Dorothea von Biron, the wife of his nephew, the Duke of Dino. Shortly after, he separated from Catherine.[36]

Talleyrand's venality was notorious; in the tradition of the Ancien Régime, he expected to be paid for the state duties he performed. Whether these can properly be called "bribes" is open to debate. During the German Mediatisation, the consolidation of the small German states, a number of German rulers and elites paid him to save their possessions or enlarge their territories. Less successfully, he solicited payments from the United States government to open negotiations, precipitating a diplomatic disaster (the "XYZ Affair"). The difference between his diplomatic success in Europe and failure with the United States illustrates that his diplomacy rested firmly on the power of the French army that was a terrible threat to the German states within their reach, but lacked the logistics to threaten the USA not the least because of the Royal Navy's domination of the seas. After Napoleon's defeat, he withdrew claims to the title "Prince of Benevento," but was made Duke of Talleyrand with the style "Prince de Talleyrand" for life, in the same manner as his estranged wife.[37]

Described by biographer Philip Ziegler as a "pattern of subtlety and finesse" and a "creature of grandeur and guile,"[38] Talleyrand was a great conversationalist, gourmet, and wine connoisseur. From 1801 to 1804, he owned Château Haut-Brion in Bordeaux. In 1803, Napoleon ordered Talleyrand to acquire the Château de Valençay as a place particularly appropriate for reception of foreign dignitaries,[39] and Talleyrand made it his primary place of residence until his death in 1838. There he employed the renowned French chef Marie-Antoine Carême, one of the first celebrity chefs known as the "chef of kings and king of chefs." He was said to have spent an hour every day with him.[40] His Paris residence on the Place de la Concorde, acquired in 1812 and sold to James Mayer de Rothschild in 1838, is now owned by the Embassy of the United States.


By a codicil added to his will on March 17, 1838, Talleyrand left his memoirs and papers to the duchess of Dino and Adolphe de Bacourt. The latter revised them with care, and added to them other pieces emanating from Talleyrand. They fell into some question: first that Talleyrand is known to have destroyed many of his most important papers, and secondly that de Bacourt almost certainly drew up the connected narrative which we now possess from notes which were in more or less a state of confusion. The mémoires were later edited by the duc de Broglie and published in 1891.[41]

Talleyrand has been accused of being a traitor because of his support for successive regimes, some of which were mutually hostile. According to French philosopher Simone Weil, criticism of his loyalty is unfounded, as Talleyrand served not every regime as had been said, but in reality "France behind every regime."[42] Today, when speaking of the art of diplomacy, the phrase "he is a Talleyrand" is variously used to describe a statesman of great resourcefulness and craft, or a cynical and consciousless self-serving politician.[43]

Talleyrand polarizes scholarly opinion. Some regard him as one of the most versatile, skilled and influential diplomats in European history, and some believe that he was a traitor, betraying in turn the Ancien Régime, the French Revolution, Napoleon, and the Restoration.


Charles-Maurice, Prince de Talleyrand by François Gérard (1808)

Tallyrand received numerous honors. He was awarded knighthood from countries throughout Europe as well as

  • Pair de France.[44]
  • Knight Grand Cross in the Legion of Honour[44][45]
  • Knight of the Order of the Holy Spirit[46]
  • Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece of Spain[44]
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Stephen of Hungary.[44]
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Andrew.[44]
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Red Eagle.[44]
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Black Eagle.[44]
  • Knight of the Order of the Elephant.[44]
  • Knight of the Order of Saint Hubert.[44]
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun.[44]
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Saxony.[44]
  • Member of the American Philosophical Society (elected 1796).[47]



  1. Daniel Royot, Divided Loyalties in a Doomed Empire (Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0874139686), 138: "Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord was the essence of the metamorphic talent inherent in French aristocracy. The so-called Diable boiteux (lame devil), born in 1754 was not fit for armed service."
  2. Emmanuel de Waresquiel, Talleyrand. Le prince immobile (Paris, FR: Fayard, 2004, ISBN 978-2702886724), 31.
  3. Louis S. Greenbaum, "Talleyrand and His Uncle: The Genesis of a Clerical Career," Journal of Modern History 29(3) (1957): 226–236.
  4. "il est admis, ... en 1770, au grand séminaire de Saint-Sulpice": L'héritage de Talleyrand. Retrieved October 25, 2022.
  5. John Holland Rose, "Talleyrand-Périgord, Charles Maurice de". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press, 373.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Mister Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord † Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  7. Louis S. Greenbaum, "Talleyrand as Agent-General of the Clergy of France: A Study in Comparative Influence," Catholic Historical Review 48(4) (1963): 473–486.
  8. Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989, ISBN 978-0394559483), 21-24.
  9. Frank J. Coppa, Controversial concordats (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1999, ISBN 978-0813209203), 50.
  10. Simon Schama, 227.
  11. Jack F. Bernard, Talleyrand: A Biography (New York, NY: Putnam and sons, 1973, ISBN 978-0399110221), 87–89.
  12. Samuel F. Scott and Barry Rothaus (eds.), Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution 1789–1799: Volume 2 (Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1985, ISBN 978-0313211416), 928–932.
  13. Bernard, 90.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Rose, 374.
  15. Theophile Cazenove, "Full text of "Cazenove journal, 1794: a record of the journey of Theophile Cazenove through New Jersey and Pennsylvania," Haverford, PA: Pennsylvania History Press, 1922. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  16. Bernard, 152.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Rose, 375.
  18. Robert Roswell Palmer and Joel Colton, A History of the Modern World 8th ed. (New York, NY: Knopf Doubleday Publishing, 1995, ISBN 978-0679432531), 419.
  19. Duff Cooper, Talleyrand (Frankfurt, DE: 1982, ISBN 3458320970).
  20. Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher, "The French Dependencies and Switzerland, 1800-1814," in The Cambridge Modern History, IX: Napoleon ed. Adolphus W. Ward et al. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1934), 399.
  21. Scott Haine, The History of France (Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0313303282), 93.
  22. David Lawday, Napoleon's Master: A Life of Prince Talleyrand (New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0312372972).
  23. David Lawday, "Talleyrand: Napoleon's Master," The Independent November 12, 2006. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Rose, 376.
  25. Traité sécret d'alliance défensive, conclu à Vienne entre Autriche, la Grande bretagne et la France, contre la Russie et la Prussie, le 3 janvier 1815
  26. Bernard, 486–492, 495.
  27. Bernard, 512–513.
  28. Bernard, 527–530.
  29. Bernard, 540–558.
  30. Bernard, 585–596.
  31. Bernard, 598–606.
  32. Gustave Gautherot, "Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord," in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14 (New York, NY: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  33. Bernard, 610–620.
  34. Talleyrand's short biography in Napoleon and Empire website, displaying photographs of his castle of Valençay and of his tomb
  35. Fawn M. Brodie, Thaddeus Stevens: Scourge of the South (New York, NY: W. W. Norton and Company, 1959), 26.
  36. Taru Spiegel, "Talleyrand: A Diplomat Par Excellence," 4 Corners of the World: International Collections and Studies, Library of Congress, March 2, 2019. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  37. Bernard, 266, 368 fn.
  38. Philip Bobbitt, The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History]] (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002, ISBN 978-0375412929), 538-569.
  39. Charles Oman, A History of the Peninsular War, Volume 1, Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1902), 55–56.
  40. J. A. Gere and John Sparrow (eds.), Geoffrey Madan's Notebooks (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1981, ISBN 978-0192158703), 12.
  41. Rose, 376–377.
  42. Simone Weil, The Need for Roots: Prelude to a Declaration of Duties Towards Mankind (London, UK: Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0415271029), 110.
  43. Gérard Robichaud, Papa Martel (Orono, ME: University of Maine Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0891011088), 125.
  44. 44.00 44.01 44.02 44.03 44.04 44.05 44.06 44.07 44.08 44.09 44.10 Verslag der handelingen der Staten-Generaal, Deel 2. (NE), 26. Retrieved October 25, 2022.
  45. Almanach Du Département de L'Escaut Pour L'an 1809–1815, Volume 1 (A.B. Stéven, 1809), 6.
  46. J. F. Bernard, Talleyrand: A Biography (New York, NY: Putnam and sons, 1973, ISBN 978-0399110221), 495.
  47. "APS Member History," American Philosophical Society. Retrieved October 21, 2022.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Bernard, Jack F. Talleyrand: A Biography. New York, NY: Putnam and sons, 1973. ISBN 978-0399110221
  • Bobbitt, Philip. The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. ISBN 978-0375412929.
  • Brodie, Fawn M. Thaddeus Stevens: Scourge of the South. New York, NY: W. W. Norton and Company, 1959.
  • Cazenove, Theophile. "Full text of "Cazenove journal, 1794: a record of the journey of Theophile Cazenove through New Jersey and Pennsylvania". Haverford, PA: Pennsylvania History Press, 1922. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  • de Waresquiel, Emmanuel. Talleyrand. Le prince immobile. Paris, FR: Fayard, 2004. ISBN ‎978-2702886724
  • Cooper, Duff. Talleyrand. Frankfurt, DE: Perfect Paperback, 1982. ISBN 3458320970
  • Fisher, Herbert Albert Laurens. "The French Dependencies and Switzerland, 1800-1814," in The Cambridge Modern History, IX: Napoleon ed. Adolphus W. Ward et al. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1934.
  • Gautherot, Gustave. "Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord," in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York, NY: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  • Gere, J. A., and John Sparrow (eds.). Geoffrey Madan's Notebooks. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1981. ISBN 978-0192158703.
  • Greenbaum, Louis S. "Talleyrand and His Uncle: The Genesis of a Clerical Career," Journal of Modern History 29(3) (1957): 226–236.
  • Greenbaum, Louis S. "Talleyrand as Agent-General of the Clergy of France: A Study in Comparative Influence." Catholic Historical Review 48(4) (1963): 473–486.
  • Haine, Scott. The History of France. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000. ISBN 0313303282
  • Lawday, David. "Talleyrand: Napoleon's Master," The Independent November 12, 2006. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  • Oman, Charles. A History of the Peninsular War, Volume 1,. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1902.
  • Palmer, Robert Roswell, and Joel Colton. A History of the Modern World 8th ed. New York, NY: Knopf Doubleday Publishing, 1995. ISBN 978-0679432531
  • Robichaud, Gérard. Papa Martel. Orono, ME: University of Maine Press, 2003. ISBN 0891011080
  • Rose, John Holland. "Talleyrand-Périgord, Charles Maurice de". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • Royot, Daniel. Divided Loyalties in a Doomed Empire. Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0874139686.
  • Scott, Samuel F., and Barry Rothaus (eds.). Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution 1789–1799: Volume 2. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1985. ISBN 978-0313211416
  • Spiegel, Taru. "Talleyrand: A Diplomat Par Excellence," 4 Corners of the World: International Collections and Studies, Library of Congress, March 2, 2019. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  • Weil, Simone. The Need for Roots: Prelude to a Declaration of Duties Towards Mankind. London, UK: Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0415271029

Further reading


Scholarly studies

  • Blinn, Harold E. "New Light on Talleyrand at the Congress of Vienna," Pacific Historical Review 4(2) (1935):  143–160.
  • Earl, John L. "Talleyrand in Philadelphia, 1794–1796," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 91(3) (1967):  282–298.
  • Ferraro, Guglielmo. The Reconstruction of Europe: Talleyrand and the Congress of Vienna, 1814–1815. New York, NY: Putnam Books, 1941.
  • Greenbaum, Louis S. "Talleyrand and Vergennes: The Debut of a Diplomat," Catholic Historical Review 56(3) (1970):  543–550.
  • Greenbaum, Louis S. "Talleyrand as Agent-General of the Clergy of France: A Study in Comparative Influence," Catholic Historical Review 48(4) (1963): 473–486.
  • Kelly, Linda. Talleyrand in London: The Master Diplomat's Last Mission. London, UK: I. B. Tauris, 2017. ISBN 978-1784537814
  • Neave, G. "Monsieur de Talleyrand-Périgord's Qualities," Higher Education Policy Volume 19 (2006): 401–409.
  • Norman, Barbara. Napoleon and Talleyrand: The last two weeks. New York, NY: Stein and Day, 1976. ISBN 978-0812818307
  • Ross, Steven T. European Diplomatic History, 1789–1815: France Against Europe. New York, NY: Anchor Books, 1969.
  • Sked, Alan. "Talleyrand and England, 1792–1838: A Reinterpretation," Diplomacy & Statecraft 17(4) (2006):  647–664.
  • Stinchcombe, William. "Talleyrand and the American Negotiations of 1797–1798," Journal of American History 62(3) (1975):  575–590.
  • Swain, J. E. "Talleyrand's Last Diplomatic Encounter," The Historian 1(1) (1938):  33–53.

Primary sources

  • Broglie, Albert de (ed.). Memoirs of the Prince de Talleyrand. New York, NY and London, UK: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1891.
  • Dilke, Charles Wentworth. "The Talleyrand Memoirs," The North American Review 152(411) (1891): 157–174.
  • Talleyrand, Prince. The Correspondence of Prince Talleyrand and King Louis XVIII during the Congress of Vienna. Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2005. ISBN 1432626310

External links

All links retrieved December 4, 2023.


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