As I mentioned before, I am re-reading Alistair Horne's excellent one volume history of Bonaparte entitled How Far From Austerlitz? Obviously, no history of Bonaparte could avoid mention of that crafty and dead randy old goat, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord.
As far as his personal life was concerned, Talleyrand could be summed up by this example with my emphases:
- Meanwhile, during the Congress [of Vienna], Talleyrand also succeeded in cementing the love affair that would continue for the remainder of his life, with his own nephew's wife, Comtesse Edmond de Périgord (later Duchess of Dino), whose marriage he had himself arranged in 1808. In the words of Duff Cooper:
- "A woman of great beauty, distinction, and charm, highly educated and of semi-royal birth, she devoted the twenty four most important years of her life to the man who was her husband's uncle and had been her mother's lover."
Yeeeees, quite, they obviously did things differently back then! However, apart from being a man who could have shagged for La France at the Olympics had they been re-invented then, he was also without any doubt the cleverest and most intelligent statesman Europe was to see until Bismarck stomped onto the scene. Mention of Duff Cooper, obviously a shrewd and intelligent observer given his name, reminds me that I have his biography of Talleyrand on my shelf and I remember being fascinated with it years ago when I first read it. Time for a second helping, methinks!