Talleyrand, The Prince of diplomats

Talleyrand and the Congress of Vienna

Rosemary Beard

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand -Perigord

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord was a unique individual. 
Possessed of extreme self-confidence that some called arrogance, he 
became one of the most important diplomats in Europe during the late 18th 
and early 19th century. Talleyrand, through skill, cunning and plain luck, 
managed to survive the reign of Louis XVI, the revolution and reign of 
terror, the Directory, the rule of Napoleon, and the reigns of both Louis 
XVIII and Louis Philippe. Talleyrand seemed to possess an uncanny ability 
to foresee political events and place himself on the side of the victor. 
At the Congress of Vienna, in 1814, Talleyrand fought to re-establish France 
as a political power equal to any other in Europe. His weapons were not the 
tyranny and violence used by Napoleon, but the principles of legitimacy, 
justice, and public law.  
          Talleyrand was born into an aristocratic family on February 2, 
1754. Injured in a fall at the age of four, he was left with what he refers
to as " a dislocated foot "(1). This left him unfit for a military career. 
His parents were then obliged to find a suitable profession for their son
that would be in the best interest of the family. Talleyrand later stated 
that he resented family interests being put above his own, but was quick to
point out that this was common practice then. His tutors suggested that 
joining the priesthood could lead to a position in public life. He became 
convinced his parents would agree to this, if he first joined the clergy. He 
attended Saint-Sulpice College. Here he was both rebellious and friendless. 
He resented the position in which he found himself, forced to become a 
member of the clergy because social propriety demanded it. Talleyrand 
spent many hours alone reading the works of historians, statesmen, 
moralists, and poets. He later wrote that these books enlightened his mind, 
but never enslaved it.(2) 
        Talleyrand left the college at age 21 and was elected by the 
province of Rheims to be a member of the Assembly of the clergy. In 1780 
he was appointed as agent-general of the clergy. This position made him 
the clergy's representative to the Crown. He realized the importance of 
widening his contacts and surrounded himself with those he thought could 
further his career. He began writing letters to many diplomats in the 
foreign service. In 1789, he was appointed the Bishop of Autun.
        Talleyrand saw some hope in the ideas of the Revolution. He had 
authored the sixth of the twenty-two articles in the Declaration of the 
Rights of Man.(3) Talleyrand had proposed the nationalization of the 
Church. This, he stated, is the reason he eventually resigned as Bishop. He 
acquainted himself to Comte Paul de Barras, a member of the Directory. 
This proved useful when, in 1797, the cabinet was completely modified. 
Talleyrand was named Minister of Foreign Relations. Again he found 
himself serving in a government position. Talleyrand was suspected of 
complicity in the coup of 18 Brumiare, a charge he vehemently denied. 
However within two weeks of the coup, he was appointed as Napoleon's 
Foreign Minister. Talleyrand often disagreed with Napoleon's foreign 
policy. He tried to counsel a policy of moderation for he did not consider 
the Europe organized by Napoleon as one that could ever attain a stable 
peace. Napoleon's Europe was to be based on coercion and violence.  
         On April 2 ,1814, Napoleon was deposed and four days later 
Louis XVIII was called to take the throne. Talleyrand, although he 
supported the return of the Bourbons to France, opposed the Charter under 
which Louis was to rule. He protested against the limitations imposed on 
freedom of the press. Talleyrand believed that to forestall another 
revolution, free speech and a right to express opposition was necessary. 
This was not unusual for Talleyrand, who had openly opposed Napoleon's 
policies. Metternich, in a letter written in 1808, had described him as a, 
"sharp edged instrument, with which it is dangerous to play."(4)  Metternich 
realized the importance of Talleyrand in France's future and went on to say 
that, "for great wounds great remedies are necessary and he who has to 
treat them ought not be afraid to use the instrument that cuts the best."(5) 
        When the Congress of Vienna was called, Talleyrand's role was 
not that of peace maker. The peace was already made. For better or worse 
he now had the role of protector. The importance of the French 
representative in the negotiations at the Congress of Vienna cannot be 
underestimated. Talleyrand entered into the Congress of Vienna knowing 
the difficulties he faced in returning France to what he considered her 
rightful place. He had signed the Treaty of Paris ending the Napoleonic 
Wars. He was also aware of the secret agreement that gave the powers, who 
had signed the Treaty of Chaumont,(6) the authority to make all decisions 
concerning France and the division of her conquered territories.(7) 
        The terms of the Treaty of Paris were incredibly lenient. France 
would be returned to her boundaries of 1792 with the addition of 150 
square miles of surrounding territory. The art treasures that Napoleon's 
troops had looted from other European nations, would remain in Paris, to 
prevent their being damaged. There would be no demands for reparation 
payments. The leniency shown by the Allies was purely political. Above all 
else what they needed for Europe was peace and security, and to impose a 
harsh settlement upon France would only weaken Louis' position and lead 
to a possible revival of Bonapartist sentiment. The Allies did what was 
necessary to prevent further hostilities with France. 
        Talleyrand entered into the conferences at Vienna, with the 
intention of driving a wedge between the powers and preserving for 
France, not only her dignity, but her place among the other great Powers of 
Europe. He believed that although France had escaped destruction, by the 
treaty of Paris, she had not resumed her rightful position in the system of 
general politics in Europe. Her former possessions would be divided 
between the powers who had defeated her, excluding France, and reducing 
her to the status of a secondary power. To prevent this Talleyrand 
requested that Louis XVIII make him the delegate to the Congress.(8) He 
considered this his duty. 
        Talleyrand arrived in Vienna on the 23rd of September. The 
Congress was set to begin on October 1. During the period before the 
opening of the Congress, Talleyrand had information that the ministers of 
the Alliance powers were already meeting to decide what would be 
submitted to the Congress.(9)  Talleyrand began communicating with 
ministers of the smaller powers. In his Instructions (which Talleyrand had 
drawn up as a guideline for France's policy at the Congress) he stated that
" She [France] wished her voice to be heeded in Europe, in order to be able 
to defend the rights of others, against all kinds of trespass."(10)Whether he 
truly believed this was France's duty, or if he could see that by allying 
France with the smaller nations it would give his nation greater power in 
the Congress, is a matter for debate. His methods proved effective and 
France would be heard. He also began to press for the opening of the 
Congress. On September 30 he received an invitation to a conference at the 
office of Prince Metternich, the representative of Austria. The minister of 
Spain, Count de Labrador was also to be in attendance. This was to be a 
preliminary meeting of the plenipotentiaries. At this meeting the proposals 
made by the Four powers would be presented. Talleyrand and Labrador 
were given the protocol that had been decided upon by the four Powers. 
Talleyrand immediately questioned why he alone, of the French delegation, 
was there. He was told that only the head of each Cabinet had been invited. 
Talleyrand replied that Labrador of Spain and Humboldt, who had 
accompanied the Prussian representative, were not the head of any 
Cabinets. He was assured that Labrador was attending only because the 
Spanish Secretary of State was not in Vienna. Humboldt was there because 
Prince Hardenberg was deaf. Talleyrand replied," we all have our 
infirmities and can exploit them when necessary."(11)  He had scored a 
point, there had been no concession made to accommodate his disability. 
The other representatives agreed that in the future, two delegates from each 
country would be allowed at the meetings.  
                Talleyrand then attacked the use of the phrase "Allied 
powers," in the protocol. He asked them,:
        " ...allied, and against whom? It is no longer against  Napoleon, he 
        is on the isle of Elba . . . it is no longer against France; for 
        peace has been made . . .  it is surely not against the King of 
        France; he is a guarantee of the duration of that peace. If there 
        are still allied powers, I am one too many here."(12)
Talleyrand was told that this term was used for the sake of brevity and was 
not meant to suggest anything sinister. "Brevity," he replied, "should not 
be purchased at the price of accuracy."(13)
    He argued that the Quadruple Alliance meant nothing. Its power had
ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The treaty clearly stated 
that all the powers who had fought on either side were to gather at Vienna 
and settle in a general congress the arrangements to complete provisions 
made in the Treaty. Talleyrand pointed out that the Four powers had no legal,
logical or moral justification for assuming control. They had agreed to call
a Congress of all the powers. Talleyrand refused to recognize the authority
of this group to make any proposals to the Congress. He did not intend to 
agree to anything arranged without France. Talleyrand declared that any 
agreement reached before the Congress met would be ignored. This embarrassed
the representatives. Their reply was that it meant nothing and would be with
drawn. Labrador shared Talleyrand's sentiments, Spain's interests were not 
considered. He asked, " If it means so little, why did you sign it?"(14) To 
this question there was no answer. The protocol was set aside. Talleyrand, 
with the aid of the Spanish delegate, had gained a small victory. He was now
prepared for a larger battle.
        Talleyrand had succeeded in reducing, to a degree, the control 
that the victors had given themselves. He wanted to further undermine this 
authority and place France in an equal position of power with the rest of 
Europe. Metternich produced a document for Talleyrand and Labrador to 
sign, along with the other four delegations. It would divide the work of the 
Congress into committees. The countries could then address their problems 
to the proper committee and it would be that organization who would 
propose a solution to the Congress as a whole. Talleyrand was suspicious 
of this proposal. It would grant France, and Spain as well, a voice in the 
decisions of the Congress, but even if France and Spain always agreed they 
could still be overruled four votes to two. This still allowed the Four 
control of the Congress.  He asked for time to consider, as this document 
was new, and it was necessary to determine whether " it was compatible 
with the rights that we are all bent on respecting."(15) . Talleyrand went on 
to question why the Powers wanted those things that should be decided by 
the Congress, arranged before the body had even met, should not the rights 
this document gave them have been granted to them by the Congress?  He 
called for the Congress to be assembled to decide the matter. A general 
discussion followed, with each delegation expressing reasons why this was 
not possible. Someone mentioned the problem of  the Kingdom of Naples. 
Talleyrand refused to recognize Murat's claim to that throne. He was told 
that the Powers had guaranteed his claim. To this Talleyrand replied, 
"Those who gave him such a guarantee, had no right and therefore no 
power to do so."(16)  He then returned to the question of assembling the 
Congress. No decision was made and the meeting adjourned until the next 
day. Later that evening, Talleyrand in an official communication, argued 
that in order for the Congress to have any legitimacy it must include all 
eight of the powers who had signed the Treaty of Paris.(17) The fact that he 
had expressed in a public document something that had been discussed in 
private, angered the delegates from the Four powers. This action forced 
them to allow delegates from all the signatories of the treaty. If the 
lesser nations were not included they would be forced to explain to all 
Europe the reasons. Talleyrand's objections may seem trivial, yet they were 
important concessions. He had been meeting with the ministers of the 
smaller countries, and already had the support of Spain.(18) With the 
support of the lesser nations, France could control any voting in the 
        The angry delegates agreed to Talleyrand's proposal, the six 
would become eight, but they would not call the whole Congress into 
session. Talleyrand again went to the smaller powers. After gaining their 
support, he informed the Four that he would agree to the postponement if 
they accepted a proposal that would include the King of Saxony but not the 
King of Naples. The proposal read:

        Any prince may send plenipotentiaries to the Congress who had 
        universally recognized sovereignty over a state that took part
        in the recent war, who has not ceded that sovereignty and whose 
        sovereignty is un-contested. The same holds true for any state 
        which was independent before the recent war and which, having 
        participated in the war is now independent again. No prince or 
        state other than these may send plenipotentiaries.(19)
This was an obvious attempt by Talleyrand to exclude Murat. His 
sovereignty was not un-contested. Talleyrand wished to see the throne of 
Naples returned to the Bourbons, who had formerly held it. If accepted, 
this proposal would allow the King of Saxony, for he had retained his 
throne by siding with Napoleon. Talleyrand wanted to prevent a Prussian 
expansion and hoped to use Saxony to block this expansion. Talleyrand 
told the Four that he wanted nothing for France, but that he brought them 
the sacred principle of legitimacy. This meeting adjourned without any 
agreement being met.
        The ministers did not meet for several days. When a meeting was 
again called, Talleyrand received a note requesting he arrive an hour early 
for a private conference with Metternich. They were to discuss the question 
of Naples and Saxony. Metternich assured Talleyrand that whatever could 
be done to preserve as much of Saxony as possible would be done. 
Metternich also promised that Luxembourg and Mainz would not be given 
to Prussia, and that Russia would not gain vast amounts of territory if 
Talleyrand would consent to allow Murat to be represented. Talleyrand 
made no commitment to this compromise. Little was said of Poland.(20) 
        When the meeting opened later that evening, Metternich read two 
proposals. One of the proposals had been drawn up by Metternich himself, 
the other was Talleyrand's. Most of the members agreed to the Metternich 
suggestions. Talleyrand's, they argued, was too prejudicial. Talleyrand said 
of Metternich's proposal, "It merely set the opening of the congress for 
November 1 and proposed for business in the meantime to be by means of 
confidential communications between the different powers."(21)  Talleyrand 
agreed to the Metternich proposal only after a long heated debate and an 
agreement to add that the propositions made at the congress should 
conform to public law. 
        This did not sit well with all the delegates. Prince von Hardenberg 
shouted that to add the term public law was useless, it went without saying 
that they would act according to public law. To this outburst Talleyrand 
replied, "If it goes without saying, it would go better by saying it."(22)  
Talleyrand wanted this in writing for all of Europe to see. Finally on 
October 12, 1814 a communique was signed and issued by the eight 
signatories. It stated, in part, that to fulfill their duties, they first
must establish free and confidential communications among the delegates of
all the powers. It also declared that it would be in the general interest of 
all the parties concerned to delay the assembly of the congress:

        until such time as the questions on which pronouncements must 
        be made will have reached a point where the result is in 
        harmony with public law, the provisions of the recent peace,
        and the expectations of the age.(23) 

Talleyrand had gained a victory. He had forced them to deal with the issues 
of legitimacy and self-interest. Their decisions would have to be based on 
principle and legitimate sovereignty. 
        Talleyrand had decided long before the Congress met to push for 
the issue of legitimate sovereignty. In his Instructions he clearly explained 
his reasons. First he declared that sovereignty could not be lost by 
conquest, nor could it be transferred except by the willing secession of its 
sovereign. The sovereign, by conquest, lost only actual possession of his 
estate.(24)  Using this reasoning most of the nations conquered by Napoleon 
never lost their sovereignty. These nations would have to be returned to 
their legitimate rulers. Second, those countries whose rulers had 
disappeared or had ceded their sovereignty to France, were now without 
legitimate rulers. They had transferred their sovereignty to France. Because 
of the Treaty of Paris, France had ceded sovereignty over these nations, but 
had not transferred it to anyone else. This left one half of the countries 
in Europe with no legitimate rulers. Third, the Allies had no power to 
create legitimacy for these nations, because as conquerors of the French 
Empire they did not gain sovereignty over them. This would have to be 
decided by the entire Congress, acting together, in order for any appointed
ruler to be recognized as sovereign. Unfortunately Metternich's plan for 
confidential communications proved a failure. Talleyrand and France still 
faced isolation from the Four powers. They met in private at balls and 
entertainments given in their honor. Talleyrand was powerless to prevent 
this. No one, however, had considered Alexander's inflexibility on the 
question of Poland or Talleyrand's skill to turn events to his favor. 
        Alexander was unmoveable on the idea of Russian control of 
Poland. This was opposed by England, who wished to uphold a treaty that 
would have divided the Duchy of Warsaw between Prussia, Austria and 
Russia.(25)  Prussia was willing to allow the Russian expansion if, in 
compensation, it received Saxony and Mainz. Austria, in order to sway 
Prussia to its side, would allow immediate Prussian occupation of Saxony, 
provided Prussia would join England and Austria in opposing Alexander's 
design on Poland. This proved to be a stalemate and no agreement seemed 
forthcoming. Rumors of war between Austria and Russia began to 
circulate. As these threats of war began to reach the rest of Europe, 
Talleyrand began a campaign to sway opinion in France's favor.
        A report by Cardinal Consalvi, the papal legate to the Congress, 
stated that Talleyrand waged an effective and persuasive campaign to 
present France as the champion of peace and justice, and the only voice for 
the lesser nations. Consalvi wrote;

        It is openly said that Talleyrand is the only one talking sense 
        now; that the Gospel, even if preached by the devil himself, 
        would still be the Gospel. It is said that Talleyrand truly
        asks for nothing for France and that he wants only justice,
        stability, moderation, and peace, erected on the sacred
        principle of right and reason . . .  This attitude places the
        French in a superior position in the opinion of the upper and
        middle classes, while the Russians, the Prussians and our own
        minister have lost favor in the public eye.(26) 

By the end of October, Talleyrand had managed to sway public opinion in 
favor of France and away from the allied Powers.
        The confidential communications between the Powers had led to a 
stalemate. France, who had been excluded, was the only one to benefit 
from them. The Four would have to find another system if any real 
progress was to be made. 
        On October 30, 1814, a conference of the eight signatories was 
called. Talleyrand submitted a proposal for the procedures to be followed 
by the Congress.(27)  It called for a directing committee made up of 
representatives of all the sovereigns and a papal representative. This 
committee would then appoint four subcommittees that would deal with the 
problems of Italy, Poland, Switzerland, and Saxony. Talleyrand, in this 
proposal had even included a compromise that would allow Murat to be 
represented as well as the King of Saxony, but they would have no vote. 
Once these subcommittees had finished their work, the whole Congress 
would be convened to approve or reject their recommendations. 
Talleyrand's proposal was rejected. The confidential communications 
would be continued, but Talleyrand would be included. The allies had 
learned it was unwise to exclude him.
        On November 5, 1814, Talleyrand met with Metternich, 
Castlereagh, and Nestlerode, the Russian ambassador. Their discussion 
centered on the problem of Italy. Various solutions were proposed but the 
main problem remained Murat and his sovereignty in Naples. Talleyrand 
proposed that they deal with Italy in geographic order, from North to 
South, beginning with Sardinia. He suggested a way that the claims of 
sovereignty could be honored. This he hoped would lead to an overthrow of 
Murat. Metternich told Talleyrand that his plan was too simplistic and that 
there were complications of which he was unaware. The only agreement 
made at this meeting was to deal with the problems in geographical order. 
Talleyrand later complained in a letter to Louis XVIII that, "Metternich 
uses the word 'complications' in order to cling to the vagueness of his 
        Alexander, upon learning of Talleyrand's inclusion in the 
conference, hurriedly invited Frederick William to dine with him. Prince 
von Hardenberg was summoned later that evening and told to make the 
other plenipotentiaries aware of an unshakable agreement between Russia 
and Prussia over the question of Poland. This agreement both alarmed and 
angered Metternich, and Castlereagh. Metternich was now determined to 
protect Saxony.
        Some months before, Talleyrand had tried to obtain an ally among 
the Four powers in actively opposing Alexander's plans for Poland. He had 
turned to Castlereagh. England, like France, had no territorial demands to 
make, and both countries wanted a general balance of power on the 
Continent. However, if England made too open a gesture toward France it 
would cause repercussions when the Congress met. 
        Castlereagh met with Talleyrand and King Louis XVIII in Paris 
in August of 1814. Castlereagh was en route to Vienna for preliminary 
meetings with the other three Powers. France offered its support to 
England in preventing Russian plans for Poland. Castlereagh had, in turn, 
given his assurance that nothing detrimental to France would be done 
during this meeting(29) . A special understanding was formed between 
England and France. This understanding would now become useful. 
Considering Alexander's refusal to abide by the partition of Poland agreed 
to by treaty, Talleyrand  secured an agreement between Austria, England 
and France. This was to be an alliance of mutual support. Austria and 
France each promised to provide 15,000 men and Great Britain would 
furnish and equal number of men of a proportionate subsidy. Hannover, 
Sardinia, Bavaria, and Hesse-Darmstadt would be invited to sign the treaty 
as well. A military commission would be established to prepare joint plans 
if Russian armies advanced into Western Europe. This treaty was signed by 
Talleyrand, Castlereagh, and Metternich on January 3, 1815.(30)   With the 
securing of this treaty, Talleyrand had hastened the dissolution of the 
Allies against France. Yet the question remains: How much of this was due 
to Talleyrand and how much to the differences of the Allies themselves? 
Talleyrand was able to exploit their differences to the benefit of France, 
but weren't they responsible for the breaking apart of the Alliance? They had 
joined originally to defeat Napoleon, and now with the lack of a common 
enemy, they were testing the restraints of the Alliance to its breaking  
point. With the dissolution of the coalition against France, Talleyrand had 
achieved a major victory, yet the problem of Poland remained to be solved.
        Talleyrand, in his Instructions, had proposed the idea of a large, 
independent Poland, one who was strong enough to maintain its 
independence. He also saw no need for undue compensations to Austria or 
Prussia as Russia, also, would be required to make a compromise and give 
up some of its desired territory. Talleyrand was realistic enough, however, 
to realize that this would not occur. Russia, and Alexander particularly, 
would never allow Poland any real independence. The only solution that 
remained was to return Poland to its situation after the last of the three 
        Talleyrand also tried to warn Austria of the danger of putting, 
"Russia like a belt around your most important possessions in Hungary and 
Bohemia."(31)  He also warned of allowing Saxony to be taken over by 
Austria's "natural enemy". Talleyrand, as did most of Europe, knew of 
Prussia's well-trained army and militaristic sentiments. He feared that with 
the enlargement of her sphere of influence, Prussia could become 
dangerous to her neighbors. Talleyrand suggested preventing this by the 
formation of a German federation.
        After a period of threats and concerns about outright war, an 
agreement was finally reached on February 11. The division of Poland 
would be that Prussia gained the province of Posen, Austria would retain 
Galacia, Krakow would be declared a free city, and the remainder would be 
formed into the Kingdom of Poland under Russian control. Prussia, in 
compensation for its loss of Polish territory would be given two-fifths of 
Saxony with the rest being restored to its legitimate sovereign. Prussia also 
gained the fortresses of the Elbe, much of the left bank of the Rhein, 
Westphalia and Pomerania. Austria, by way of compensation, obtained the 
Tyrol and Salzburg. She was promised further territory in Italy and the 
Illyrian provinces on the Adriatic. This was not the solution Talleyrand 
had wanted, but it had prevented another war.
        Still to be decided was the question of Murat and Naples. 
Talleyrand stood firm. Naples must be returned to its legitimate sovereign. 
This caused a problem for Austria and England. Although now allied to 
France, both were bound by treaty to support Murat's claim to Naples. 
Austria, in January of 1814, had signed a treaty that guaranteed Murat the 
throne and increasing his territory. In return for this guarantee, he had  
sent 30,000 troops to aid Austria. To further complicate matters, England 
had recognized the validity of this treaty five days after its signing. 
Metternich and Castlereagh could hardly advise their governments to ignore  
the treaty only to satisfy France's demands.
        By February of 1815, it looked as if the problems in this area 
would solve themselves. Austria suspected Murat's influence in the unrest 
now being seen in Northern [Austrian] Italy. Metternich had begun to 
realize that Murat would always be a problem for them and Europe. 
Metternich began to send letters concerning the problems with Murat to 
Count de Blacas, Louis XVIII's favorite, in Paris.(32)  England, too, began 
to doubt the wisdom of its support of Murat. Their control of the 
Mediterranean was in danger. Before the Powers could act, however, 
another powerful force stepped in that would aid Talleyrand in his quest to 
have Murat removed from the throne of Naples. 
        Napoleon had escaped from Elba and was on his way back to 
reclaim his throne. On March 10,1815, Napoleon had reached Lyons and 
was welcomed with open arms. In ten days time Napoleon had reached 
Paris and was again being hailed with shouts of "Vive l'emperueur". Louis 
had fled to Ghent, and the Congress was pledging whatever support was 
necessary to repel the tyrant.
        The Congress was stirred to action and by March 22, Switzerland 
was given new borders and was declared permanently neutral. This became 
a principle of international law. An agreement for the embryo of a German 
confederation was also reached. These two developments pleased 
Talleyrand greatly. Switzerland's neutrality gave France a secure frontier 
and the German Federation, Talleyrand believed, would become an 
important element in the equilibrium of Europe. Although the settlements 
of Switzerland and Germany were important to France, Talleyrand's 
concern was still with Naples. In January of 1815, Metternich, wishing to 
use the question of Naples to secure Austrian aims in Italy, began 
negotiations with Louis XVIII. 
        Unknown to Talleyrand, Metternich made a secret agreement with 
the French King through the Compte de Blacas. The agreement called for 
Austria to expel Murat in exchange for concessions by Louis. These 
concessions, which included no liberal constitution for Naples, would, of 
course be in Austria's favor.(33)  While the negotiation had excluded 
Talleyrand, it still guaranteed him what he wanted. Talleyrand had spent 
months trying to engineer the downfall of Murat. Now there would be no 
opposition to his forced abdication.
        On March 15, only ten days after sending assurances of loyalty to 
the governments of Austria and Great Britain, Murat launched an invasion 
of the Papal States. Murat met with only token resistance. On April 2, after 
a clash with Austrian troops, Murat seized Bologna. This was an overt act 
of war. He justified this act by sending a letter to Metternich describing 
his actions as a "precautionary measure" to guarantee order in central and 
southern Italy.(34)  On April 10, Austria declared war on Naples. Murat was 
defeated and on May 20, surrendered his throne. Austria signed a new 
treaty with Naples. Ferdinand IV, the legitimate sovereign, was returned to 
the throne.
        Talleyrand was elated. He later wrote that this event,"consecrates 
anew, by striking example, the principle of legitimacy. And besides, it is 
useful to France, because it gave it, as an ally in Italy, the most powerful 
state of that country."(35)  France had not achieved the restoration of 
legitimacy in Naples, that had been done by Austria, but Talleyrand was 
        As for the rest of Italy, Talleyrand could exert only a minor 
influence. He managed to convince the powers that each Italian problem 
should be dealt with on its own merits. Talleyrand also convinced them 
that it would be counter productive to the balance of power to honor Papal 
claims to former French holdings.(36) Talleyrand also opposed the granting 
of any Italian territory to the Bonapartes. The Treaty of Fontainebleau had 
accorded the Duchy of Parma to Marie Louise, the former French empress, 
and rights of succession to her son. Talleyrand joined with Labrador of 
Spain in contesting this settlement and advancing the claims of the Infante 
Don Louis and his mother the Queen of Etruria. Instead Talleyrand 
proposed compensating Marie Louise with grants in Bohemia.  A 
compromise was finally reached in which Marie Louise was given Parma, 
but succession rights were denied to her son. The Queen of Etruria was 
given the Duchy of Lucca. Talleyrand reluctantly agreed to the settlement 
proposed for the rest of Italy. He wrote to Louis telling him " the 
arrangements to be settled by the congress are being carried out before they 
have been decided. But this is of no great importance, and besides, we have 
not the power to prevent it." (37)  
        The Italian settlement, for all practical purposes, called an end to 
the business of the Congress. The Final Act of the Congress was signed on 
June 9, but before the settlements could be imposed on Europe, there was a 
battle to be won. On March 25, Austria, Prussia, England and Russia had 
signed a new alliance. This Quadruple Alliance renewed the Treaty of 
Chaumont. This time France was invited to join as a signatory. By luck or 
fate, France was now  pledged to fight until Napoleon was crushed once 
and for all. The allied armies had gathered in Belgium and the Netherlands 
and on June 18, Napoleon met his final defeat at Waterloo. 
        A new treaty with France would now have to be negotiated. The 
second Peace of Paris took longer to draw up than the first. This treaty was 
not quite as lenient as the first. France would be obliged to return to their 
proper owners all art treasures that Napoleon had claimed as spoils of 
victory. France would be restored to its 1790 borders. She would be 
required to pay a settlement of 700 million francs and support an 
occupying army of Allied troops for 5 years. This army would consist of 
150 thousand men.
        Talleyrand opposed this treaty. He argued that the battles in 1815 
had been against Napoleon alone. Louis had not given up the throne, and 
France had been part of the Alliance to defeat Napoleon, therefore no new 
treaty was needed. Europe wanted guarantees that the revolutionary spirit 
in France had been subdued and that there would be no further aggression. 
Talleyrand tried to convince them that Louis' very presence on the throne 
and France's signing of the Alliance treaty of March 25th should be 
guarantee enough. The Allies persisted in their demands and Louis' resolve 
weakened. By the end of September 1815, Louis was willing to accept the 
new treaty. This, in Talleyrand's opinion, undermined everything that had 
been accomplished at Vienna. Talleyrand refused to sign anything that 
would compromise France or render it powerless. Talleyrand would not be 
a party to something he believed to be detrimental to France. So on 
September 24, 1815, he resigned. 
        Talleyrand was skilled in the art of manipulation, yet the evidence 
would suggest that he was motivated by a love for France and genuine 
concern for its welfare. During the Congress of Vienna, Talleyrand had 
championed the cause of legitimacy and justice. He had done everything in 
his power to raise France from the position of a defeated, second class 
power to one of equality with the Great European powers.  When judged by 
modern standards his methods seem unethical and corrupt, but taken in the 
context of the era in which he lived, Talleyrand was typical of the 
politician of this period.


1. Charles Maurice Talleyrand-Perigord, Memoirs of the Prince 
de Talleyrand vols.I-III
ed. Duc de Broglie. trans. Rapheal de 
Beaufort  (New York: G.P. Putnam, 1895), 4.  Talleyrand 
indicates that he holds his nurse responsible for the fact that he 
was lame for life. She failed to notify his parents of the injury 
until it was too late to remedy.

2. Talleyrand, 15

3. J.F. Bernard Talleyrand: A Biography  (NY: G.P.Putnam & 
1973)  90

4.  Clemens Metternich, Memoirs of Prince Metternich. vol.II 
ed.Prince Richard Metternich  trans. Gerald W. Smith  (NY: 
Reprint by Howard Fertig, Inc. 1970) 258

5. Metternich  258

6. Russia, England, Prussia and Austria made up this Alliance. The 
treaty bound the four together in a twenty year pact aimed solely 
at the defeat of Napoleon. Each nation had committed itself to put 
150,000 men into the field if the peace of Europe was ever again 
threatened by Napoleon.

7. Talleyrand, vol.II  148
Talleyrand states that although he was made aware of these secret 
articles , he had not signed them.

8. Talleyrand, vol.II  152

9. Talleyrand, vol. II  201

10. Talleyrand, vol. II 152

11.  Duff Cooper, Talleyrand  (CA: Stanford University Press, 
Reissued 1967) 249 

12.  Talleyrand, vol.II 203

13.  Harold Nicolson  The Congress of Vienna, A study in Allied 
Unity: 1812-1822 
(NY: Viking Press, Reprint 1965) 141

14.  Bernard 373

15. Talleyrand, vol.II  232

16. Talleyrand, vol.II  233

17. The treaty was signed by Austria, Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, 
Sweden, Portugal and Spain. 

18. Talleyrand, vol.II  201; Talleyrand states that he concentrated on 
meeting with ministers of secondary countries who shared his 
dissatisfaction. He had discovered that they looked to France to 
protect their interests. He does not name who he met with.         

19. Talleyrand, vol.II  239

20. Talleyrand, vol.II  255

21. Talleyrand, vol.II  240

22. Talleyrand, vol.II  248

23. Bernard  382

24. Talleyrand, vol.II  158

25. The treaty of Reichenbach was signed in June of 1813

26. Bernard  389

27. Talleyrand  vol II  282-287

28. Bernard  393

29. Nicolson  126

30. Talleyrand  389-391

31.  Nicolson  156

32. Bernard 411

33. Sir Charles Webster, The Congress of Vienna  1814-1815   
(London:Thames and Hudson,  Reprinted 1963)   144

34. Bernard 417

35. Bernard 417

36. Nicolson  194

37. Talleyrand  121


Bernard, J.F.   Talleyrand: A Biography   New York: G.P.Putnam & 
        Sons, 1973. 

Cooper, Duff   Talleyrand  California: Stanford University Press, 
        Reissued 1967. 

Metternich, Clemens   Memoirs of Prince Metternich. 5 vols. Ed. 
        Prince Richard Metternich   Trans. Gerald W. Smith   New 
York:   Reprint by Howard Fertig, Inc. 1970

Nicolson, Harold   The Congress of Vienna, A study in Allied Unity: 
   New York: Viking Press, Reprint 1965 

Talleyrand-Perigord, Charles Maurice   Memoirs  of  the Prince de 
  5 vols.  Ed. Duc de Broglie.  Trans. Rapheal de 
        Beaufort  New York: G.P. Putnam, 1895 

Webster, Sir Charles   The Congress of Vienna: 1814-1815  London: 
        Thames and Hudson, Reprint 1963