Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
(1754 – 1838)
also known as
"The Limping Devil"
(Le Diable boiteux)
Was he one of the most versatile, skilled and influential diplomats in European history or a traitor, betraying in turn, the Ancien Régime, the French Revolution, Napoleon, and the Restoration? I will always choose the first option. He is indeed the father of modern diplomacy. It is said that Talleyrand, Metternich and Bismark were Gods who ruled the Europe in the middle of the 19th century (Marx).
How would he describe himself?
"Regimes may fall and fail, but I do not."
And what about Napoleon?
"Shit in a silk stocking"
While I was searching for some books on the internet, I've stumbled upon a book with an interesting title:
Napoleon's master: A life of Prince Talleyrand by David Lawday
Such a brilliant mind!
At the Congress of Vienna, Tsar Alexander I of Russia tried to justify his actions with regards to the proposed annexation of the - formerly French-aligned - Kingdom of Saxony by Prussia by calling King Frederick Augustus of Saxony 'a traitor to the cause of Europe', to which Talleyrand replied:
"Treason is a matter of dates."
referring to Alexander's rapprochement with Napoleon in 1807, when the former had signed the collaborative Treaty of Tilsit.
"A court is an assembly of noble and distinguished beggars."
"Since the masses are always eager to believe something, for their benefit nothing is so easy to arrange as facts."
"We were given speech to hide our thoughts."
With the 1830 revolutions going on and the tricolour raised over Notre Dame, he said,
"We are triumphing!"
He was asked, "Who are we?"
"Quiet! Not a word. I will tell you tomorrow,"
was the reply.
His home and the place where he was buried
Château de Valençay
During the occupation of Paris by the Allies, Prussian General Blücher wanted to destroy the Pont d'Iéna, which was named after a French victorious battle against Prussia. The Prefect of Paris tried everything to change the mind of Blücher, without success, and finally went to Talleyrand asking him whether he could write a letter to the General asking him not to destroy the bridge. Talleyrand instead wrote to Tsar Alexander, who was in person in Paris, asking him to grant to the people of Paris the favour of inaugurating himself the bridge under a new name (Pont de l'École militaire). The Tsar accepted, and Blücher could not then destroy a bridge inaugurated by an Ally. The name of the bridge was reverted to its original name under Louis-Philippe.
(taken from Wikipedia)
You gotta love this guy!!!