Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand 1754-1838


Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand 1754-1838

One of the sturdiest hides in the history of French politics, Talleyrand exerted major influence over official European business from 1789 until 1834.

Image Above

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Detail of the painting by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon

Metropolitan Museum of Art

This was a remarkably long time period stretching all the way from the
French Revolution 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  Napoleon I. Not many men were able to accomplish the same.

Charles-Maurice de 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.


Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand — Name, Family, and Roots

His full name was Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, and he was the Prince de Bénévent.


About the Talleyrands

  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 Tailleran.

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 surname.

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 Arms
Photo Mu/Wiki

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 (count) de Grignols, was killed at the  Siege of Tournai.

Charles' father was Charles-Daniel, Comte (count) de Talleyrand-Périgord, who lived from June 16, 1734 - November 4, 1788, and made it to lieutenant general in the royal army.

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 Archambauld-Joseph, born 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.


Charles married Catherine Noël Grand, nee Worlée. Born November 21, 1762.

In 1815, they separated.

Talleyrand had no legitimate children.


About the Périgords

  Périgord is a region in southern France, located between the cities Bordeaux and Limoges.

Way back when, the Petrocorii, or Petragorici, a Gallic tribe, dominated the area with headquarters at today's Perigueux. Then the Romans took over, followed by the Visigoths, after which the Merovingian kings moved in.

Guillaume de Périgord, is the first on record with the added surname Talleyrand (or Talairan.) In 1115, Guillaume became the Count of Perigord.

Here is the County of Périgord circled on a map showing France in 1328, just before the outbreak of the Hundred Years' War.

Map Location of Périgord, France 1328
Map Location of Périgord, France 1328
Click map to enlarge.


Some of the Talleyrands made it to Seigneur (Lord) de Grignols and Seigneur de Chalais.

For more details on this family tree see also  Comtes de La Marche & de Périgord.


About Bénévent

  Bénévent is the French name for the Italian city Benevento in southern Italy. Here is Benevento on a map, see red marker:

Map Location of Bénévent, or Benevento, in Italy
Map Location of Bénévent, or Benevento, in Italy
Google Map


What connections did Talleyrand have with Benevento?

In 1806, 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."

Given 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.

Map of Germany and Italy in 1803
1803 Germany and Italy

While Benevento was under Napoleon and Talleyrand, the map looked like this:

Map of Europe 1810: Napoleon's Power
1810 Europe: Napoleon's Power


In 1815, after the 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:

The Unification of Italy, 1815-1870
1815-1870 Italy


Thus, Talleyrand carried his title Prince de Bénévent, or Prince of Benevento, only from 1806 - 1815.



Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand — Short Biography and Timeline


Talleyrand Under the Monarchy of King Louis XV (1715-1774)



February 2, 1754

Birth at 4, rue Garancière, Paris, France

Talleyrand was club-footed, his right foot was noticeably shorter than the other, a 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 born lame.

In any event, this handicap put a military career out of the question and he will go for a clerical profession.

1758 - 1760 Stays at his great-grandmother's at the Chalais Castle at Perigord.