Talleyrand de Périgord, Charles Maurice, Prince of Benevento (17541838)

Talleyrand de Périgord, Charles Maurice, Prince of Benevento, French statesman and diplomatist, born in Paris, of an illustrious family; rendered lame by an accident, was cut off from a military career; was educated for the Church, and made bishop of Autun; chosen deputy of the clergy of his diocese to the States-General in 1789, threw himself with zeal into the popular side, officiated in his pontifical robes at the feast of the Federation in the Champs de Mars, and was the first to take the oath on that side, but on being excommunicated by the Pope resigned his bishopric, and embarked on a statesman's career; sent on a mission to England in 1792, remained two years as an émigré, and had to deport himself to the United States, where he employed himself in commercial transactions; recalled in 1796, was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs; supported Bonaparte in his ambitious schemes, and on the latter becoming Emperor, was made Grand Chamberlain and Duke of Benevento, while he retained the portfolio of Foreign Affairs; in a fit of irritation Napoleon one day discharged him, and he refused to accept office again when twice over recalled; he attached himself to the Bourbons on their return, and becoming Foreign Minister to Louis XVIII., was made a peer, and sent ambassador to the Congress of Vienna; went into opposition till the fall of Charles X., and attached himself to Louis Philippe in 1830; Carlyle in his “Revolution” pronounced him “a man living in falsehood and on falsehood, yet, as the specialty of him, not what you can call a false man ... an enigma possible only in an age of paper and the burning of paper,” in an age in which the false was the only real (17541838).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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