Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand
One of the sturdiest hides in the
history of French
politics, Talleyrand exerted major influence over official European business from 1789 until 1834.
Detail of the
painting by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
Museum of Art
This was a remarkably long time period stretching all the way from the
to the reign of the
Citizen King Louis-Philippe — an era of extreme political changes.
In other words, Talleyrand managed to
stay in the saddle before, during, and after
Not many men were able to accomplish the same.
Talleyrand — Personality
Talleyrand had a sharp brain and wit. Although Talleyrand was said to have
been able to appreciate the smart and beautiful things around him,
he never lost sight of his aims.
Talleyrand — Name, Family, and Roots
His full name was
Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord,
and he was the Prince de Bénévent.
Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand's family had aristocratic
roots but lacked its befitting wealth. However, the Talleyrands were
very proud of their family tree.
Older spellings of the name
Talleyrand are Taleyrand, Taleyran, Talieran, or
The name Talleyrand is of unknown origin and goes back to the 12th
century. Some think it stems from a
feudal tenure, others think it started as a nickname for soldiers (taille
rangs = mow down the ranks) and eventually developed into a
Here is the coat of arms of the
Talleyrand-Périgords at their tomb at the cemetery of Auteuil —
three rampant lions with crowns:
Talleyrand Coat of
Re Que Diou = Rien Que Dieu, or Nothing but God,
in other words Only God Above Us, a motto that reflects the
proud mindset of the Talleyrands, especially in light of the fact
that France was governed by an absolute monarch until 1792.
Talleyrand's paternal grandfather,
Daniel-Marie-Anne, Marquis de Talleyrand-Périgord, Comte
de Grignols, was killed at the
Siege of Tournai.
Charles' father was Charles-Daniel, Comte
Talleyrand-Périgord, who lived from June 16, 1734 -
November 4, 1788, and made it to lieutenant general in the royal
Charles' mother was
Alexandrine-Marie-Victoire-Eléonore de Damas d'Antigny,
daughter of Joseph-François,
Marquis d'Antigny, who died June 14, 1809.
The two married on January 12, 1751.
Charles-Daniel was 16, Alexandrine was 22 years old at the time.
They had four sons.
Their fist son was Alexandre-François-Jacques, born
on January 18, 1752. Alex died at
five years of age.
Their second son was Charles-Maurice.
Their third son was
in 1762. Following his father's example, Archie became lieutenant
general as well.
Their fourth son was
Boson-Jacques, also lieutenant
general, and later governor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
Catherine Noël Grand, nee Worlée. Born November 21,
In 1815, they separated.
Talleyrand had no legitimate children.
is a region in southern France, located between the
back when, the
Gallic tribe, dominated the area with headquarters at
today's Perigueux. Then the Romans took over, followed
Guillaume de Périgord,
is the first on record with the added surname Talleyrand
(or Talairan.) In 1115, Guillaume became the Count of
Here is the County of Périgord circled on a map showing
France in 1328, just before the outbreak of the
Hundred Years' War.
Location of Périgord, France 1328
Click map to enlarge.
Some of the Talleyrands
made it to Seigneur (Lord) de Grignols and Seigneur de
For more details on
this family tree see also
de La Marche & de Périgord.
is the French name for the Italian city Benevento in
southern Italy. Here is Benevento on a map, see red
of Bénévent, or Benevento, in Italy
connections did Talleyrand have with Benevento?
Napoleon called Benevento part of his realm, established
a principality, and gave it to Talleyrand. We read,
"Wishing to testify to our Grand Chamberlain and
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Talleyrand, our
gratitude for the services he has rendered to our
crown, we have resolved to transfer to him, as in
fact we do transfer to him by these presents, the
principality of Benevento, with the title of Prince
and Duke of Benevento, to hold and fully to possess
the same in full property and sovereignty as the
immediate fief of our crown."
at our palace of St. Cloud,
5th of June, 1806
Formerly ruled by the Papacy,
Pope Pius VII complained, of course. Here is
Benevento's political situation on a map before it was
annexed by Napoleon.
Germany and Italy
While Benevento was under Napoleon and Talleyrand, the
map looked like this:
Congress of Vienna,
Benevento was returned to the Church. However, the Pope
could enjoy Benevento only until 1860, when its citizens
voted to become part of a united Italy. But that was
long after Talleyrand's death.
Here is a
map of Italy after the Final Act of the Congress of
Vienna in 1815:
Talleyrand carried his title Prince de Bénévent,
or Prince of Benevento, only from 1806 - 1815.
Talleyrand — Short Biography and Timeline
Under the Monarchy of King Louis XV
February 2, 1754
at 4, rue Garancière, Paris, France
Talleyrand was club-footed, his right
foot was noticeably shorter than the
deformation that he might or might
not have had from birth. Some say he had fallen when mounting a
chest of drawers. Others say a servant
of the house let him drop. Talleyrand's cousin said he had been
any event, this handicap put a
military career out of the question
and he will go for a clerical
at his great-grandmother's at the
Chalais Castle at Perigord.