Alexander I, Talleyrand and France’s Future in 1814

  • Marie-Pierre Rey
Chapter
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850 book series

Abstract

At the beginning of June 1814, just after Tsar Alexander I left Paris, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Prince de Bénévent, wrote him a very long letter,1 in which he asserted:

Sire, I did not see Your Majesty before Your departure and I dare offer a reproach out of the sincerity of my fondest attachment.

[…] You have saved France. Your entry into Paris signalled the end of despotism; whatever your silent observations, if You were called upon again, that which You have done You would do once more, for You cannot fail Your glory — even when You may have glimpsed the Monarchy disposed to reassume a little more authority than You believe necessary, and the French to neglect their independence. […] The forms, the manners of our Sovereigns have in turn fashioned us, and from this mutual reaction you will see arise a way of governing and obeying that may eventually merit the name of constitution. The King has long studied our history; he knows us; he knows how to give a royal character to everything that emanates from him, and when we have returned to ourselves, we will come back to this truly French habit of appropriating the actions and qualities of our King. Moreover, liberal principles are marching with the spirit of the century; although the century’s spirit may be dampened for a while, it will have to come back; and if Your Majesty deigns to trust my words, I promise that we will have a monarchy linked to liberty,2 and that [Your Majesty] will see men of merit welcomed and given posts in France. I guarantee to Your glory the happiness and the liberty of my country.3

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Notes

  1. 7.
    Friedrich Martens, ed., Sobranie traktatov i konventsii, zakliuchennyh Rossiei s inostrannymi derzhavami, 15 vols. (St Petersburg, 1874–1909), vol. 14 (1905), 234.Google Scholar
  2. 11.
    Emmanuel de Waresquiel, Talleyrand, le prince immobile (Paris, 2003), 424.Google Scholar
  3. 17.
    Charles Nicollaud, ed., Récits d’une tante: mémoires de la comtesse de Boigne, née d’Osmond, 5 vols. (Paris, 1921–1923), vol. 1, 303–4.Google Scholar
  4. 18.
    Vera A. Milchina and Aleksandr L. Ospovat, eds., Les Russes découvrent la France, au XVIII et au XIXème siècles (Paris and Moscow, 1990), 120.Google Scholar
  5. 21.
    This idea can be found in Waresquiel, Talleyrand, 442 and it is repeated in Emmanuel de Waresquiel and Benoit Yvert, Histoire de la Restauration (1814–1830). Naissance de la France moderne (Paris, 1996), 35.Google Scholar
  6. 30.
    J. Mavidal and E. Laurent, eds., Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860, recueil complet des débats législatifs et politiques des Chambres françaises. Deuxième série (1800 à 1860), 127 vols. (Paris, 1862–1912), vol. 12 (1868), 7 (my italics).Google Scholar
  7. 39.
    Hortense de Beauharnais, Mémoires de la reine Hortense, 3 vols. (Paris, 1927), vol. 2, 226.Google Scholar

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© Marie-Pierre Rey 2015

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  • Marie-Pierre Rey

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