Charles Talleyrand (1754-1838)

Talleyrandedit Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord devoted his early life to religious training, but during the Revolution, having adopted enlightened ideas of social justice, he helped reorganize the Catholic Church along egalitarian lines, for which he was excommunicated by Rome. Eventually elected to public office under the Directory, he supported General Bonaparte during the coup d’etat of 19 Brumaire, and was rewarded with a post in the foreign ministry. Though Talleyrand was a key player in many of the regime’s diplomatic successes, under the Empire he began to have doubts about Napoleon’s motives. Resigning his office in 1807, he maintained his diplomatic contacts and clandestinely sought the overthrow of the emperor. Upon Napoleon’s return from Elba, Talleyrand refused any part in the Hundred Days and would play a key role in the subsequent Congress of Vienna.

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