1812-1838 – Hôtel de Talleyrand

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon

1812-1838 – Hôtel de Talleyrand

 

In 1812, the Marquis de Hervas, who in the meantime had been named Marquis d’Almenara, sold the residence to the person who would become forever associated with it: Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. The famous French statesman, who had already bought Château de Valençay in 1803, made the mansion on rue Saint-Florentin his Parisian residence. It became a center of French society and political life.

It is in this residence that Talleyrand hosted the preliminary negotiation talks that would become the basis of the Treaty of Fontainebleau (signed in April of 1814), and the Treaty of Paris (signed in May of 1814), which would pave the way for the Congress of Vienna (September 1814 – June 1815). Over the course of these meetings to negotiate peace in Europe as well as the restoration of the monarchy in France, Talleyrand received King Frederick William III of Prussia, Emperor Francis I of Austria and the Duke of Wellington, the British Ambassador.

Talleyrand’s most prestigious guest during these negotiations was no doubt Tsar Alexander I of Russia, who sojourned in this building for two weeks (from April 1st until April 15, 1814). When the Russian armies entered Paris on March 31, Talleyrand decided to put his mansion at the Tsar’s disposal. Upon welcoming him to his residence, Talleyrand is said to have remarked: “This may be your Majesty’s most brilliant triumph: turning a diplomat’s house into a temple of peace.”

Talleyrand died in this building on May 17, 1838, after King Louis-Philippe had paid him a final visit. After his death, his furniture was transported to Château de Valençay, where it remains today.

In “Choses Vues 1830 – 1848,” Victor Hugo commented: “Into this palace, as a spider into its web, he enticed and captured, one by one, heroes, thinkers, conquerors, princes, emperors, Bonaparte, Sieyès, Mme de Staël, Chateaubriand, Benjamin Constant, Alexandre de Russie, Guillaume de Prusse, François d’Autriche, Louis XVIII, Louis Philippe, and all the gilded glittering flies which buzz through the history of these past forty years. All this glittering swarm, fascinated by the penetrating eye of this man, passed in turn under this gloomy entrance bearing on it the inscription: Hôtel Talleyrand.