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Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

Talleyrand and the French Revolution

A representative of the clergy in the States-General of 1789, Talleyrand sided with the revolutionists. He proposed the appropriation of church lands by the state, endorsed the civil constitution of the clergy, and was excommunicated (1791) by the pope after consecrating two "constitutional" bishops. In 1792 he was sent by the National Assembly on a mission to London to secure Great Britain's neutrality, but the radical turn of the French Revolution nullified his success. A lifelong advocate of constitutional monarchy and peace, Talleyrand sought refuge in England in Sept., 1792, following the fall of the monarchy. In 1794 he went to the United States, where he stayed until after the establishment (Nov., 1795) of the Directory in France, when he returned (Sept., 1796) to Paris.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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