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14 September 2014


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Joe Arnold

Talleyrand your favorite? Great, sure, in the way lots of bad people are great like, say, Caesar. But such a traitorous weasel!

I'll grant you fascinating, and maybe even one of my favorites, too, in a "love to hate him" way, but still he's definitely as close to a villain on the napoleonic era as I've read about. I don't know much about his earlier career during the revolution, though so I look forward to hearing more.

Random question, what's the picture that fronts this podcast and is at the top of the page? From the garb I suspect it's from the American revolution, though possibly the French.


Oh I'm so glad to hear that Talleyrand's a favorite of yours too. Whilst he's an undoubtedly complex an nuanced character, when viewed at a distance, his philosophy and politics remained one of the few relatively stable constants in a time of moral and sociological flux. He may have been a traitor to the changing regimes he served under, but he was never a traitor to France.
Have you read Duff Cooper's excellent, and pretty exhaustive, biography of him?

Joe Arnold

I've not read Cooper, because I've heard it described as revisionist and anecdotal, though I'd meant to once upon a time. I've read some poniatowski, though. We're desperately in need of a modern, academic biography if the man, though that would be a tall order for any historian. Most of what I know comes from histories of the bigger topics he played a role in, the Congress, napoleon, 1814-15 while he and fouche (another shady character) basically ruled, etc.

Whether he was a traitor to France depends upon your view of France and the various governments he betrayed. (I'd argue he betrayed his country at least at the restoration. Putting the bourbons back did France no favors. He turned on the ancient regime, the revolution, napoleon, and the restored bourbons whenever each star was waning, the very definition of an opportunist and a traitor no matter which you think was best for France.) We don't know his philosophy or politics, as the philosophy and politics he claimed changed with the weather ("constant" is not a word I'd use from my reading).


great podcasts i might be starting one of my own soon.listened to all you roe stuff already. why no Itunes feed like rome.

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