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Was Talleyrand a patriot?

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  1. Talleyrand's life is as exciting as a novel
  2. As his career suggests it, Talleyrand had too much ambition
  3. Talleyrand was not the « revolutionary patriot », however I argue that he has his own form of patriotism

Prince Charles-Maurice Talleyrand is a mysterious and enigmatic character, often misunderstood, and always demonized. This diplomat, who referred to himself as a prince, came from one of the best lineages, and fulfilled some of the most important tasks as the head of the French state for almost 50 years. The following are among his chief accomplishments: he blessed the Fête de la Fédération in 1790, and had the idea of nationalizing the clergy's land. He served as foreign minister under Napoléon and negotiated the peace at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. He ended his career as France's ambassador to England. Talleyrand was everywhere. He successfully served successively Royalist and Republican regimes. This versatility darkened his image, but was not a problem for him. He liked being the subject of discussion even if it was in a negative way. He was a "Silk stocking filled with filth" according to the famous comment of Napoleon. Talleyrand suffered a bad reputation. Through his memoirs Talleyrand tried to repair his own image. He burnt or hid his papers to prevent criticism. Primary sources of Talleyrand's biography now often come from his contemporaries, who were hostile to him. Thus, it is really difficult to restore his image or to make a true and fair judgment on his decisions.

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