Napoleons Master: A Life of Prince Talleyrand

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Napoleon’s Master: A Life of Prince Talleyrand

His treatment of what he rightly regards as Talleyrand's greatest achievements — his negotiation of the first Treaty of Paris in which he confuses with the armistice, signed some six weeks earlier and his performance at the Congress of Vienna — is not only simplistic but largely erroneous. It was not Talleyrand who persuaded Castlereagh to grant generous terms: the Foreign Secretary had already agreed these with Metternich and Tsar Alexander some time before the fighting stopped. Nor was it he who prevented the looted works of art being removed from the Louvre: that too was down to a consensus among the allies.

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The oddest thing about this book is its title. Napoleon's name on the front cover undoubtedly helps to sell books. But the notion that Talleyrand was Napoleon's 'master' is a preposterous one.

A Life of Prince Talleyrand

He certainly influenced the man, both directly and indirectly. But to suggest that he dominated him in any way is ludicrous. Lawday also seems to believe that Talleyrand was determined to destroy his imperial master, which is not only to run contrary to the evidence, but also to completely misunderstand a man who essentially went with the flow as long as he possibly could. This representation of the events as some kind of epic duel between the two belongs in the realm of fantasy, as does the assertion that it was Talleyrand who brought about Napoleon's downfall.

The Emperor himself was entirely responsible for that. Love puzzles? Get the best at Telegraph Puzzles. Books on Amazon. A collection of the best contributions and reports from the Telegraph focussing on the key events, decisions and moments in Churchill's life. This book tells the story of the men and women of Fighter Command who worked tirelessly in air bases scattered throughout Britain to thwart the Nazis.

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Talleyrand : Biography

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More from this Author. Danton David Lawday. About the Author.