François Alexandre Frédéric, duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

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François Alexandre Frédéric de La Rochefoucauld
Born(1747-01-11)11 January 1747
La Roche Guyon
Died27 March 1827(1827-03-27) (aged 80)
Titleduc de la Rochefoucauld
Other namesDuc de Liancourt; Duc d'Estissac
Known forsocial reform; vaccination

François Alexandre Frédéric de La Rochefoucauld, Duke of La Rochefoucauld (11 January 1747 27 March 1827) was a French social reformer.


Early life

He was born at La Roche Guyon, the son of François Armand de La Rochefoucauld, duc d'Estissac, grand master of the royal wardrobe. One of his cousins was Louis Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld d'Enville.

Louis Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld dEnville French aristocrat and politician

Louis-Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld was a French nobleman and politician. He was a member of the House of La Rochefoucauld and a major lord under the Ancien Régime. He also played a political role in 1789 early on in the French Revolution before being executed in the September Massacres. He was a duke, initially with the title 'duc d'Enville' or 'duc d'Anville' and later with that of 6th duc de La Rochefoucauld. He was a cousin to François Alexandre Frédéric de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt and Ambroise-Polycarpe de La Rochefoucauld-Doudeauville.

Known as the duc de Liancourt in infancy, he became an officer of carbineers, and married at seventeen. A visit to England seems to have suggested the establishment of a model farm at Liancourt, where he reared cattle imported from England and Switzerland. He also set up spinning machines on his estate, and founded a school, École nationale supérieure d'arts et métiers, for the sons of soldiers, which became in 1788 the École des Enfants de la Patrie under royal protection. In 2008, this school was renamed Arts et Métiers ParisTech.

Liancourt Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Liancourt is a commune in the Oise department in northern France.

Cattle domesticated form of Aurochs

Cattle—colloquially cows—are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos taurus.

Spinning is the twisting together of drawn-out strands of fibers to form yarn, and is a major part of the textile industry. The yarn is then used to create textiles, which are then used to make clothing and many other products. There are several industrial processes available to spin yarn, as well as hand-spinning techniques where the fiber is drawn out, twisted, and wound onto a bobbin.

French Revolution

Frédéric de Liancourt was elected to the Estates-General of 1789, where he sought in vain to support the monarchy while furthering social reform.

On 14 July, following the storming of the Bastille, he warned Louis XVI of the state of affairs in Paris, and met his exclamation that there was a revolt with the answer, "Non, sire, c'est une révolution." ("No, majesty, it is a revolution.") [1]

Storming of the Bastille Major event of the French Revolution

The Storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris, France, on the afternoon of 14 July 1789.

Louis XVI of France King of France

Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste, was the last king of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as citizen Louis Capet during the four months before he was guillotined. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, son and heir apparent of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste became the new dauphin of France. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he assumed the title "King of France and Navarre", which he used until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of "King of the French" until the monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792.

On 18 July, he became president of the National Constituent Assembly. Established in command of a military division in Normandy, he offered Louis a refuge in Rouen, and, failing in this effort, assisted him with a large sum of money.

National Constituent Assembly (France) Revolutionary legislature of France, 1789 to 1791

The National Constituent Assembly was formed from the National Assembly on 9 July 1789 during the first stages of the French Revolution. It dissolved on 30 September 1791 and was succeeded by the Legislative Assembly.

Division (military) military unit size designation for grouping land forces

A division is a large military unit or formation, usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. Infantry divisions during the World Wars ranged between 8,000 and 30,000 in nominal strength.

Normandy Administrative region of France

Normandy is the northwesternmost of the 18 regions of France, roughly referring to the historical Duchy of Normandy.


After the events of 10 August 1792 (storming of the Tuileries Palace), he fled to England, where he was the guest of Arthur Young. There also he met Young's nieces by marriage, Frances and Sarah Burney. The former gives a long description of him in her journal. [2] After the assassination of his cousin, Louis Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld d'Enville, at Gisors on 14 September 1792 he assumed the title of duc de La Rochefoucauld. [3]

He left England in 1794, and travelled to the United States. In 1795, he and five associates began a tour which covered much of the northern United States and Upper Canada. They crossed the Niagara River to Fort Erie and also saw Fort Chippawa. From there they travelled to Newark, Canada where they were entertained by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe. [4] Their trip was cut short when they were prohibited from entering Lower Canada. Insulted, François Alexandre Frédéric returned to the US and, in 1799, his exile ended, he returned to France.

Return to France

Francois Alexandre Frederic, duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt Francois XII de La Rochefoucauld (1747-1827).jpg
François Alexandre Frédéric, duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

On his return to Paris, he was treated with dignity, but distantly by Napoleon. At the Restoration he entered the House of Peers, but Louis XVIII refused to reinstate him as master of the wardrobe, although his father had paid 400,000 francs for the honour. Successive governments, revolutionary and otherwise, recognized the value of his institutions at Liancourt, and he was for twenty-three years government inspector of his school, École nationale supérieure d'arts et métiers, which had been removed to Châlons-en-Champagne.

The 19 member jury for the 5th Exposition des produits de l'industrie française was chosen in May 1819, with the Duc de la Rochefoucauld as president and Jean-Antoine Chaptal as vice-president and rapporteur. Chaptal had arranged the 2nd and 3rd expositions, and again played a leading role. The 5th exposition opened on 25 August 1819 in the great halls of the Louvre palace. [5]

Rochefoucauld was one of the first promoters of vaccination in France; he established a dispensary in Paris, and he was an active member of the central boards of administration for hospitals, prisons and agriculture. His opposition to the government in the House of Peers led to his removal in 1823 from the honorary positions he held, while the vaccination committee, of which he was president, was suppressed. The academies of science and of medicine admitted him to their membership by way of protest. Official hostility pursued him even after his death, for the old pupils of his school were charged by the military at his funeral.


His works, chiefly on economic questions, include books on the English system of taxation, poor-relief and education.


His eldest son, François, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1765–1848), succeeded his father in the House of Peers. [3]

The second, Alexandre, comte de La Rochefoucauld (1767–1841), married Adélaïde de Pyvart de Chastullé, a San Domingo heiress allied to the Beauharnais family. Mme de La Rochefoucauld became dame d'honneur to the empress Josephine, and their eldest daughter married Francesco Borghese  [ fr ], a brother-in-law of Pauline Bonaparte, Princess Borghese. La Rochefoucauld became ambassador successively to Vienna (1805) and to The Hague (1808–1810), where he negotiated the union of the Kingdom of Holland with France. During the "Hundred Days" he was made a peer of France. He subsequently devoted himself to philanthropic work, and in 1822 became deputy to the Chamber of Deputies and sat with the constitutional royalists. He was again raised to the peerage in 1831. [3]

The third son, Frederic Gaetan, marquis de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt (1779–1863), was a zealous philanthropist and a partisan of constitutional monarchy. He took no part in politics after 1848. The marquis wrote on social questions, notably on prison administration; he edited the works of La Rochefoucauld, and the memoirs of Condorcet; and he was the author of some vaudevilles, tragedies and poems. [3]


  1. Goyau 1913.
  2. The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney (Madame D'Arblay). Volume 1, 1791-1792. Edited by Joyce Hemlow, et al. London: Oxford University Press, 1972, pp. 231-48.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Chisholm 1911.
  4. Webster 1987.
  5. Colmont, Achille de (1855), Histoire des Expositions des produits de l'Industrie Française (in French), Guillaumin, p. 44, retrieved 2017-10-11

Additional references consulted

Further reading

French nobility
Preceded by
Louis Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld d'Enville
Duc de La Rochefoucauld
Succeeded by
François, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1765-1848)

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