Klemens von Metternich and Charles-maurice de Talleyrand

Klemens von Metternich born into the house of Metternich was the son of Franz George Karl Count Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein, an Austrian diplomatic. During his childhood his education was in charge of his mother Countess Maria Beatrice Aloisia von Kagenegg, he was the elder son of the couple and, thus, the heir of the Metternich family. As Metternich was a child his father will took him in some of his voyages in order to prepare Matternich for succeed himself in the Austrian diplomatic world.

Metternich go to the universities of Strasbourg and Mainz. At the first one he enter in the summer of 1788, but he left the university in September 1790. “In 1788 he entered the University of Strasbourg […], but the spread of the French Revolution prompted him to leave Strasbourg in 1790 and enter the University of Mainz.” (Britannica)

He study in Mainz until 1792, when the French revolution got to near Mainz, and he fled to with his father, who was at the time chief minister of the Austrian Netherlands.

While Klemens received all of this education, Charles had a more difficult beginning. Born as the heir of an ancient military French house, he was unable to follow his family traditional road because of a deformity in his leg. After being rejected by his father, Count Daniel de Talleyrand-Périgord, and that he quite Talleyrand of his psition as the heir of the Charles family, Charles decided to start an ecclesiastic carrier as his uncle, Alexandre Angélique de Talleyrand-Périgord. “Pied-bot de naissance ou par accident, il renonce au métier des armes et se rabat sur la carrière ecclésiastique.” (Larousse)

“From 1758 till 1760 Talleyrand who was still a little child was sent to the country of Chalais where he stayed, at the Princess de Chalais old castle, his great-grandmother whom he admired deeply. In 1770, he entered the seminary of Saint-Sulpice in Paris where he was ordained in 1779 at the age of 25 and consacrated Bishop of Autun in 1789.” (Talleyrand.be)

The following year, Talleyrand enter as an Agent-General of the Clergy, a representative of the Catholic Church to the French crown. In 1789, through the influence of his father and family he becomes the Bishop of Autun and attend to the Estates-General of 1789, representing the clergy as the first state. Nevertheless, Talleyrand support the anti-clericalism of the revolutionaries.

“He participated in the writing of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and proposed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy that nationalized the Church, and swore in the first four constitutional bishops, even though he had himself resigned as Bishop following his excommunication by Pope Pius VI in 1791.” (Wikipedia, Talleyrand)

In 1792 he was send to England to avoid a war with the Unite Kingdom, though in the beginning signing a treat for neutrality, he ultimate failed in his mission and go back to France, when the “Terror” started, Talleyrand left France for being in England again but was expulse of it in 1794 and live in the United States through 1794 to 1796, in which year he could come back to France.

While Talleyrand was in exile in the United States, Metternich participates in diverse diplomatic missions and, in 1795, he married Countess Eleonore von Kaunitz in order to being able to occupy high post in the Austrian empire, although for the marriage to being succeed the father of the bride put two conditions.

“Two conditions were imposed on the marriage by the father of the bride, Prince Kaunitz: firstly, the still youthful Eleonore was to continue to live at home; and secondly, Metternich was forbidden from serving as a diplomat as long as the Prince was still alive.” (Wikipedia, Metternich)

From 1795 to 1797, Metternich study in Vienna and in 1797, after the death of his father-in-law, he participate the Congress of Rastatt from 1797 to 1999. While this was happening to Metternich, Talleyrand come back to France in 1796 and the following year becomes Foreign Minister. He was the one behind the events that will end in the XYZ affair and start an unofficial naval war with the United States from 1798-1999. He was the one that saw potential in Napoleon during the Italian campaigns, and began to write many cards to Napoleon in order to become his allied.

While Metternich was participating in the end of the Congress of Rastatt, Talleyrand was an important part of the coup d’état of 18 Brumaire, which establish Napoleon as the head of the government. He was made the Foreign Minister of the new French government. Nevertheless, Napoleon and Talleyrand rarely agree in this topic.

In 1803, Metternich was sent to Prussia in an attempt to include the country in the war of Austria and France of 1805, but Metternich failed in convincing Frederick William III of Prussia.

In 1806, Metternich was elected as the Austrian minister in France and come in contact with Talleyrand and also with multiple ladies of the Parisan society, including the sister of Napoleon Caroline Mutat. Although this seems only as licentiousness to all, of them and with his good relations with Talleyrand and the Russian envoy, Metternich got good reports of the state of politics an affairs in Paris.

In 1807, Talleyrand resigned of his post as minister of foreign affair, and after this he start to accept bribes of other countries in order of reveling Napoleon’s secrets.

In 1808, took place the Congress of Erfurt, but Napoleon doesn’t lend Metternich to participate in it. During this congress Napoleon confide in Talleyrand the mission for developing a pact with Russia, which would make them attack Austria. Nevertheless, Talleyrand start making secrets deals with the Tsar of Russia in order to throughout Napoleon’s plans.

“His actions at the Congress of Erfurt, in September–October 1808, helped to undo Napoleon’s plans. It was here that he counselled Tsar Alexander nightly on how to deal with Napoleon. The Tsar’s attitude towards Napoleon was one of apprehensive opposition. Talleyrand repaired the confidence of the Russian monarch and together they rebuked Napoleon’s attempts to form a direct anti-Austrian military alliance. Of course, this was not why Talleyrand had been brought to the conference. In fact, Napoleon had expected him to help convince the Tsar to accept all of his proposals, yet, somehow he never discovered the acts of treason committed by Talleyrand in Erfurt.” (Wikipedia, Talleyrand)

After this conference from which Metternich got informed due to Talleyrand and due to the rebellion of Spain, he started to send reports to Austria in which he advised the emperor to start a war with France while it was weakness because of the war with Spain. Nevertheless, he overestimate the military power of France, and his reports with lead to the disastrous Austrian-French war of 1809.

After this war, due to the manipulation of both Talleyrand and Metternich, which exploit Napoleon’s vanity, the marriage between Napoleon’s and the Archduchess Marie Louise was done. This in order to get less harsh post-war demands of France.

“Dado el poderío militar demostrado por Francia, aceptó llegar a un entendimiento con ella, simbolizado por el matrimonio entre Napoleón y la hija del emperador austriaco Francisco I, María Luisa” (Biografías y vidas)

In 1810, Metternich start taking actions in order to save Austria of another invasion of France, in order to get this he signed an alliance with Napoleon on 14 March 1812.

After his final meeting with Napoleon in the Dresden in May 1812, he started to slowly move apart of the French cause, while avoiding an alliance with both Prussia and Russia, leading Austria for being a neutral country, which was complete in 1813, after the end of his alliance with France. In this year Talleyrand had also the opportunity to being the Foreign minister of France again, but he declined it.

While Austria was in an armistice with France and other countries of Europe, it began to secretly rearmed, Metternich buys all the time that he could for this purpose, dominating the politics of Europe and by July Austria had signed a secretly alliance with Prussia and Russia. Although Metternich wanted to settle a general agreement, he agree to declare war against France if it rejected the pace treaty that he propose. After France rejected this treaty, Metternich declare war to France along with Russia and Prussia, for this he received the tittle of Prince of the Austrian emperor.

“On 1 April 1814 Talleyrand led the French Senate in establishing a provisional government in Paris, of which he was elected president. On 2 April the Senate officially deposed Napoleon with the Acte de déchéance de l’Empereur and by 11 April had created the Treaty of Fontainebleau and a new constitution to re-establish the Bourbons as monarchs of France.” (Wikipedia, Talleyrand)

During the congress of Vienna, both, Talleyrand and Metternich, got mayor place as chief embossers of their respective countries. During this congress Talleyrand got with the support of Spain the right to have “voice” in the congress (in the beginning only Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia could make decisions) and the he successful manage to put France in a middle position (Spain was later removed of the “Big Powers”), and so he manages to destroys the anti-French coalition and sign a secret treaty with Britain and Austria for which if one of the three countries got invade from Russia or Prussia the other two can aid the one begin invade.

“Talleyrand received some favors from the other countries in exchange for his support: France returned to its 1792 boundaries without reparations, with French control over papal Avignon, Montbéliard (Mompelgard) and Salm, which had been independent at the start of the French Revolution in 1789.” (Wikipedia, Talleyrand)

While Talleyrand got all this diplomatic success, Metternich got less succeed in his objectives, with the congress of Vienne he sought to consolidate the state of Vienne in Europe, as well as reducing the threaten of Prussia and Russia, for which he wanted to create a confederation of the German states as long as one of the Italian states, both leads by Austria, as long as creating a German imperials title which will be held from both Austria and Prussia, but ultimately neither of this projects were successful. In change with the reducing of risk of Russia and Prussia he got more succeed.

“In European affairs, however, Metternich was more successful: he achieved equality of status for France; he obtained a reduction of the Prussian demands on Saxony; and, in particular, he blocked the farther reaching demands of Russia. Both Russia and Prussia, in fact, were held in check by the common front of Austria, England, and France that Metternich had created.” (Britannica)

After the Congress of Vienne, Talleyrand reduced his state to being a simple state criticize, and he only go back to an active role during the reign of Louis Philippe, and was for four years the embosser of France in London. He finally died on May 17 1838 in Paris.

After the Congress of Vienne, the distribution of powers that Metternich had manage, being in a durable stability for Europe, in which he actively participate in attempts to reduce liberal thoughts of revolution. He got constant confrontation with Austrian monarchs in questions relating the government of Italy (which Austria got after the Congress of Vienna), but he was made chancellor of Austria from 1821 to 1848, time in which he got in exiled after the revolution in Austria.

During his time in power he used the influence he got to suppress revolutionary movements in diverse parts of Europe, but his power started to banish after the revolutions of Greece (1827) and Belgium (1830) and the dethronement of the French monarchy. This marks the beginning of the end of the system that he establish after the congress of Vienna, culminating with the revolutions of Austria, Italy and Germany in 1848.

He got back in 1851, but the Austrian emperor doesn’t call him. He died in Vienna in 1859, after outliving his generation of politicians.


Biografías y vidas. (2014). Príncipe Klemens de Metternich. Obtenido de Biografías y vidas: http://www.biografiasyvidas.com/biografia/m/metternich.htm

Klemens, prince von Metternich. (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://0-www.britannica.com.millenium.itesm.mx/EBchecked/topic/378934/Klemens-Furst-von-Metternich

larousse.fr. (s.f.). Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. Obtenido de Larousse.fr: http://www.larousse.fr/encyclopedie/personnage/Charles_Maurice_de_Talleyrand-Périgord/145853

Talleyrand, The Prince of diplomats. (s.f.). Obtenido de talleyrand.be: http://www.talleyrand.be

Wikipedia. (15 de March de 2014). Charles Maurice de Talleyrand Périgord. Obtenido de Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Maurice_de_Talleyrand-Périgord

Wikipedia. (10 de March de 2014). Klemens von Metternich. Obtenido de Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klemens_von_Metternich#Biography



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