Monsieur Talleyrand – Complex and Brilliant

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Highlighting Historical Romance with Saralee Etter who gives us some of the facts behind one of the stories in A Legend to Love

If I were going to invite a guest from any time in history to dine with me, my choice would be Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, also known as the Prince de Talleyrand, the great 19th century French diplomat and bon viveur.

Charles-Maurice-de-Talleyrand-Périgord-by-François-Gérard-1808-205x300 Highlighting History He was born February 2, 1754 into an old but penniless aristocratic family. Born with a club foot, he wasn’t able to seek his fortune in the army like his father had, and became a Catholic priest instead. Intelligent and imaginative, the brilliant young Enlightenment thinker served as a priest for about a decade before being made Bishop of Autun in 1789.

During the French Revolution, Talleyrand supported the revolutionaries, helping to write the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. He also wrote a 216-page treatise on public education, helped to draw up regulations governing the police in Paris, proposed allowing Jews to vote, supported a ban on church tithes and invented a method to ensure loans. He was excommunicated by Pope Pius VI in 1791, and resigned from the clergy.

He served as an ambassador to England until 1792 when war threatened to break out between England and France. Talleyrand left for America, where he became friends with Alexander Hamilton and other leaders of the new United States government.

When he returned to France in 1796, he wrote letters to Napoleon Bonaparte, encouraging him to pursue a political career.  Napoleon did, and Talleyrand became his minister and adviser, although they often disagreed.

Talleyrand’s opulent Château de Valençay was a center of elegant guests and parties, and even served as a luxurious prison for Ferdinand VII of Spain and some of his relatives after Napoleon removed them from the Spanish throne. Celebrity chef Marie-Antoine Carême was employed there to keep all the guests satisfied, as Talleyrand believed that good food and pleasant surroundings made people easier to negotiate with. 

Talleyrand married his mistress, Catherine Grand, who was beautiful but stupid, at Napoleon’s insistence. Talleyrand was not happy—Catherine was fine as a mistress, but he was used to brilliant and stylish women like Germaine de Staël as friends and partners. So he ignored his wife and spent all his time with other women he liked better, such as his nephew’s wife, Dorothea de Dino.

The good relations between Napoleon and Talleyrand soured by 1807. Talleyrand’s main concern was to seek the welfare of France, rather than supporting Napoleon’s imperial ambitions. After resigning as Napoleon’s minister, Talleyrand began accepting bribes to betray Napoleon’s secrets. He also began to plot to establish a peaceful transition of power to a new French leader after Napoleon’s death.

After Napoleon was deposed in 1814 and sent to Elba, Talleyrand began to assist the new Bourbon monarch, Louis XVIII. Talleyrand was instrumental in making sure the Treaty of Paris was lenient towards France, and found a way to participate in the Congress of Vienna. Originally, only Austria, the United Kingdom, Prussia and Russia were entitled to make decisions, but Talleyrand argued that he should be able to participate as a representative of the other smaller countries present at the Congress. He did, and his diplomatic maneuvering won him, and through him, France, a number of important favors and considerable goodwill.

Napoleon’s escape from Elba and return to France in 1815 kicked off the “100 Days,” which ended with the battle of Waterloo. Talleyrand retired, dismayed by the much harsher provisions of the new treaty that was signed after Napoleon’s final defeat and exile to St. Helena.

In 1830, Talleyrand became King Louis-Philippe’s ambassador to Britain, participating in the London Conference that helped to establish the Kingdom of Belgium. In 1834, he retired from this post and began to write his memoirs. He died May 17, 1838.

Talleyrand made many enemies. Some hated him for being a priest; others for his libertine, irreligious ways.  He championed the rights of ordinary citizens, but was a member of the aristocracy. He was a minister for Louis XVI, the French Revolutionary Government, Emperor Napoleon, King Louis XVIII and King Louis-Phillippe. He was called “le diable boiteux,” the lame devil, for his cynical side-switching over the years.

Nevertheless, he was a fascinating and remarkable person.

In HER WILD IRISH ROGUE, Irish Dragoon Captain Stephen Killian and the spymaster’s daughter Emma Forgall are assisted in Paris by Monsieur Talleyrand as they race to disarm a plot against the allied countries which have just defeated Napoleon.

A-Legend-to-Love-Box-Set-Promo-1024x577 Highlighting History

About the Book

A Legend to Love: The Box Set features versions of Robin Hood, Mulan, Cuchulainn and Emer, Vlad Dracula, Odysseus and Penelope, Romulus and Remus, Beowulf, Tristan and Iseault, and Dick Whittington and his cat from nine of your favorite – or soon to be favorite – Regency romance authors. Heat levels vary from kisses only to spicy.

When the Marquess Returns by Alanna Lucas

The revealed missing grandson of a duke seeks the truth while the Cursed Heiress, who knows the secrets of the past, evades his every move.

Lady Soldier by Jillian Chantal

When her ailing father is recalled to the Army to fight Napoleon, the niece of a duke cuts her hair, dons a replica uniform, saddles her horse, and rides off to join his old regiment, determined to keep her father out of harm’s way.

Her Wild Irish Rogue by Saralee Etter

Just as the legendary warrior of Irish folklore, Cuchulain, wooed the brilliant and beautiful Princess Emer, Irish cavalryman Stephen Killian must join forces with spymaster’s daughter Emma Forgall to prevent enemy forces from re-igniting the turmoil of the Napoleonic wars.

Between Duty and the Devil’s Desires by Louisa Cornell

England’s strictest governess has one job – get a notorious earl to his wedding on time. A ridiculous Regency road trip begins at the end of a pistol and ends in a scandalous dinner party, turning the story of Tristan and Isolde on its head.

A Wulf In Duke’s Clothing by Renee Reynolds

A lady with a heart of iron meets a duke with the heart of a warrior. Together they fight for her family…and for love.

The Promise of the Bells by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Young Richard Whiting comes from a poor family but he’s given a golden opportunity – to move to London to further his education. On the way there, he is befriended by Lord Ambrose and his young daughter Catherine Swanston. Richard and Catherine become sweethearts, but in order to make his fortune, Richard is pulled into a different life. The couple vows, beneath the tolling bells of the churches of London, to always be there for one another.

Rogue of the Greenwood by Susan Gee Heino

An archer, an outlaw, a vindictive Sheriff… Sherwood Forest has seen it all, but never like this!

The Duke of Darkness by Cora Lee

When the Duke of Rhuddlan knocks on Olivia Stone’s door with a plan to help them both, she’s skeptical but sees no other option. Working together sparks flame between them that neither could have predicted, but when Rhuddlan’s brother discovers the relationship, he becomes determined to destroy their hope for happiness.

His Duchess at Eventide by Wendy LaCapra

The Regency meets the Odyssey when a long-lost sea captain takes on a disguise and sets out to reclaim his estate, his family, and the heart of the love of his life.

A-Legend-to-Love-The-Box-Set-cover-189x300 Highlighting History About the Authors

A Legend to Love: The Box Set is a collection of nine full-length Regency romance novels written by nine bestselling and award winning authors – Alanna Lucas, Jillian Chantal, Saralee Etter, Louisa Cornell, Renee Reynolds, Elizabeth Ellen Carter, Susan Gee Heino, Cora Lee, and Wendy LaCapra. This group formed on the premise of bringing some of their favorite legends into their favorite era, the Regency.



The Authors

Alanna Lucas

Jillian Chantal

Saralee Etter

Louisa Cornell

Renee Reynolds

Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Susan Gee Heino

Cora Lee

Wendy LaCapra

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