Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne

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Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne

Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne (July 9, 1769 – February 7, 1834) was a French diplomat, born in Sens.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Diplomat person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization

A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with one or more other states or international organizations. The main functions of diplomats are: representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state; initiation and facilitation of strategic agreements; treaties and conventions; promotion of information; trade and commerce; technology; and friendly relations. Seasoned diplomats of international repute are used in international organizations as well as multinational companies for their experience in management and negotiating skills. Diplomats are members of foreign services and diplomatic corps of various nations of the world.

Sens Subprefecture and commune in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France

Sens is a commune in the Yonne department in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in north-central France, 120 km from Paris.


Bourrienne is famous for his Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, [1] a work based on years of intimate friendship and professional association. They met at the Military Academy at Brienne in Champagne when eight years old. Napoleon recalled the famous snowball battles that he masterminded: “Unfortunately the pleasure did not last long, for we put stones in the snowballs, so that many boys were injured, among them my friend Bourrienne, and the game was forbidden”. [2] Typically, Napoleon recalled that when they graduated in 1787 at age 15 he led in all subjects; Bourrienne recalled that Napoleon led in mathematics, while he was first in all else.

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

Friendship renewed

Bonaparte continued his military studies and entered the army. Bourrienne prepared for a diplomatic career, studying in Vienna and then at Leipzig. Appointed Secretary of the Legation at Stuttgart he remained there during the first years of the French Revolution, flouting orders to return. He did not come home until the spring of 1792, so his name was on the list of emigrants, a potentially dangerous classification. Reunited with Bonaparte in Paris, they enjoyed bachelor life together, and among other incidents of that exciting time were horrified witnessing the rabble mobbing the royal family in the Tuileries (June 20) and the massacre of the Swiss Guards at the same spot (August 10). After that Bourrienne returned to his family home in Sens. Following the affair of 13 Vendémiaire (October 5, 1795) he moved back to Paris and again associated with Bonaparte, who was then second in command of the Army of the Interior and who soon left to command the Army of Italy. The spectacularly victorious general urgently summoned Bourrienne to Italy for the long negotiations with Austria (May–October 1797), where his knowledge of law and diplomacy was useful in drafting the terms of the Treaty of Campo Formio (October 7). Bourrienne recognized that his friend was likely to become a major historical figure, so he began making notes and filing copies of pertinent documents. In November 1797 his name was removed from the list of emigrants.

French Revolution social and political revolution in France and its colonies occurring from 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

13 Vendémiaire

13 Vendémiaire Year 4 is the name given to a battle between the French Revolutionary troops and Royalist forces in the streets of Paris.

Private secretary and disgrace

The following year he accompanied Bonaparte to Egypt as his private secretary. Later Bourrienne strongly defended the controversial decisions at Jaffa to euthanize the French plague victims and to bayonet the Turkish prisoners who had violated parole. They returned together on the adventurous voyage to Fréjus (September–October 1799), and Bourrienne helped in the parleys that led up to the coup d'état of Brumaire (November) 1799. Then they worked on the Constitution of the Year VIII, which made Bonaparte First Consul for ten years. Almost every day he arrived at 7 AM to work side by side with Bonaparte, often going on to 10 PM. Bourrienne left to become head of the police, but soon was recalled because Bonaparte needed him. He remained in Paris during the second Italian campaign, after which he watched with admiration as his friend continued to organize France so that it would be governed effectively under clearly codified laws by the talented men he brought into the government. As Bonaparte progressed to become Consul for Life Bourrienne recorded— with a mix of admiration and apprehension—his skilled maneuvers to clench power and to enrich his family. In the autumn of 1802 Bonaparte started to ease him out, after a few uncertain weeks firing him without stating a cause. Most likely Bonaparte was revolted by his financial speculations. They never talked together again. Bourrienne was in disgrace.

The Hanseatic League

In the spring of 1805 he was appointed French Consul to the free city of Hamburg, the leading city of the Hanseatic League. [3] He was supposed to enforce the measures for the commercial war against England, known as the Continental System, but was convinced that cutting off trade hurt Europe more than Britain. His unanswered letters did not persuade the Emperor Napoleon to change his policy. In the early spring of 1807, when directed to provide a large number of military cloaks for the army in East Prussia, he procured them secretly and expeditiously from England. He was recalled to France in 1810 when, to his regret, the Hanseatic towns were incorporated into the Empire. He had made a fortune in Hamburg.

Hanseatic League Confederation in Northern Europe

The Hanseatic League was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Northwestern and Central Europe. Growing from a few North German towns in the late 1100s, the league came to dominate Baltic maritime trade for three centuries along the coasts of Northern Europe. Hansa territories stretched from the Baltic to the North Sea and inland during the Late Middle Ages, and diminished slowly after 1450.

The restoration and the 100 days

In 1814 the victorious Allied Armies occupied Paris. Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord headed a Provisional Government in which Bourrienne was appointed head of the Post Office, which was also responsible for secretly transcribing suspects' letters. He participated in the meetings with the Tsar and other Allied leaders that led to the Bourbon restoration. The returning Louis XVIII received him warmly, nevertheless he promptly lost his position. When Napoleon escaped from Elba Bourrienne was appointed Prefect of Police. Napoleon issued an amnesty for all but thirteen individuals; one of them was Bourrienne. He spent the Hundred Days (1815) with Louis XVIII in Ghent. After that he did not play a notable part in public affairs. In 1830 he published his book and that revolution cost him his fortune. He died at Caen on February 7, 1834, after spending two years in an asylum.

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord French diplomat

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, 1st Prince of Benevento, then 1st Duke of Talleyrand, was a French politician and diplomat. After theology studies, he became in 1780 Agent-General of the Clergy and represented the Catholic Church to the French Crown. He worked at the highest levels of successive French governments, most commonly as foreign minister or in some other diplomatic capacity. His career spanned the regimes of Louis XVI, the years of the French Revolution, Napoleon, Louis XVIII, and Louis-Philippe. Those he served often distrusted Talleyrand but, like Napoleon, found him extremely useful. The name "Talleyrand" has become a byword for crafty, cynical diplomacy.

Caen Prefecture and commune in Normandy, France

Caen, is a commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the Calvados department. The city proper has 108,365 inhabitants, while its urban area has 420,000, making Caen the largest city in former Lower Normandy. It is also the third largest municipality in all of Normandy after Le Havre and Rouen and the third largest city proper in Normandy, after Rouen and Le Havre. The metropolitan area of Caen, in turn, is the second largest in Normandy after that of Rouen, the 21st largest in France.

The Memoirs

His book gives a vivid, intimate, detailed account of his interactions with Napoleon and his mother, brothers and sisters; with his first wife Joséphine de Beauharnais and her children; with notable French politicians; and with the marshals, he was especially friendly with Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte the future King of Sweden when they both were in Northern Germany. His narrative is invigorated by many dialogues, not only of those in which he was a speaker but even of conversations that he only was told about by others. Their exactitude may be suspect but surely they give a memorable portrait of his times. Many judgments are supported by quotes from his stockpile of documents. Naturally his narration is colored by his complicated relationship with his subject: close friendship, working together intimately for years, followed by dismissal and humiliating rejection. He tries to be balanced and gives many examples of Napoleon’s brilliance, his skill at governance, and his deft political maneuvers, while deploring his inexorable grabs for personal and familial power and wealth, his willingness to sacrifice French lives, and his abhorrence of a free press. Military campaigns are left for professional judges. One of his bombshells is the claim that the Grand Army based at Boulogne was never meant to invade England, too chancy an enterprise: it was a diversion to keep British forces at home. Of course the book infuriated devoted Bonapartists; two volumes of criticisms were published promptly to attack his credibility. [4] Controversy was still raging half a century later. [5] His book is not a source in which to check particular facts, but as Goethe wrote: “All of the nimbus, all of the illusions, with which journalists and historians have surrounded Napoleon, vanishes before the awe-inspiring realisms of this book…”. [6]

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  1. , Mémoires de M. de Bourrienne, ministre d'etat sur Napoleon, le directoire, le consulat, l'empire et la restauration : avec des notes ajoutees des mémoires de Napolean écrits á St. Hélène, des mémoires du duc de Rovigo, de celles du general Rapp, de Constant, et des plusieurs autres sources authentiques. Paris: Colburn et Bentley, 1831, 10 volumes; Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte by M. de Bourrienne, his private secretary ; to which are now first added, an account of the important events of the hundred days, of Napoleon's surrender to the English, and of his residence and death at St. Helena ; with anecdotes and illustrative notes from all the most authentic sources. London: R. Bentley, 1836, 4 volumes; Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte / by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne, his private secretary, edited by R. W. Phipps, London : Richard Bentley, 1885, 3 volumes
  2. Kircheisen, F. M. Memoirs of Napoleon I compiled from his own writings. London: Hutchinson 1929, p. 14.
  3. Servières, Georges, "Le rôle de Bourriene a Hambourg (1805-1810)" Revue Historique Vol.84, 1904, pp.225-251,
  4. Belliard, General Gourgaud and eleven others, Bourrienne et ses erreurs, volontaires et involontaires, Paris: Charles Heideloff, 1830.
  5. Bonaparte, Napoléon-Joseph-Charles-Paul, Prince, Napoleon et ses détracteurs. Paris: Calmann Lévy, 1887.; His Imperial Highness Prince Napoleon, Napoleon and his detractors translated and edited by Raphael Ledos de Beaufort, London: W H Allen and Co, 1888.
  6. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, Letter to G. F. v. Reinhard, 18 June 1829, Goethes Briefe, vol 45, Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1908.