Talleyrand In London by Kelly Linda
The arrival of Charles-Maurice Prince de Talleyrand-Perigord as French ambassador in London in September 1830 was regarded as a great event by the British government. Two months earlier the July Revolution in Paris overthrowing the reactionary rule of Charles X had brought the liberal Louis-Philippe to the throne. Talleyrand the best-known diplomat in Europe had emerged from retirement at the age of 76 to lend his support to the new monarchy and to confirm its acceptance by the other European powers.Few people had aroused more controversy than Talleyrand. A former bishop whose love affairs were notorious and a turncoat who had abandoned every master he had served he was widely detested by the French public. But he was greeted as a celebrity in London where the July Revolution - foreshadowing Britain's own Reform Bill - had been hugely popular. London society had not yet acquired the virtuous tone of the Victorian era. The easy-going morals of the Regency had carried on into the reign of William IV and the fact that Talleyrand's niece by marriage the Duchess of Dino 37 years his junior was not only his hostess but reputedly his mistress merely added to theinterest he induced.Talleyrand had arrived in London at a perilous moment. Revolution had broken out in Belgium where the Belgians demanded independence from Holland to which they had been forcibly joined in 1815. The autocratic powers of Russia Austria and Prussia threatened war to restore the status quo. It was largely thanks to Talleyrand's diplomatic skills and his close collaboration with the British that the creation of Belgium as a constitutional monarchy was peacefully achieved.Talleyrand's four years in London were the last and in his own opinion the most important of his diplomatic career. Linda Kelly's sparkling narrative brings the period to life providing a fascinating picture of one of Europe's greateststatesmen as he appeared to English eyes.