Fouché, Joseph

Fouché, Joseph zhôzĕfˈ fo͞oshāˈ [key], b. 1759 or 1763, d. 1820, French revolutionary and minister of police. A teacher in the schools of the Oratorian order, he joined the French Revolution and was elected to the Convention (1792). There he sided at first with the Girondists, but then became a Jacobin. As a Jacobin, he supported the Reign of Terror and assisted Jean Collot d'Herbois in the ruthless massacre (1793) of the counterrevolutionists in Lyons. He was instrumental in the overthrow of Maximilien Robespierre (1794), was envoy to Milan and The Hague (1798), and became minister of police (1799). Always an opportunist, he closed the Jacobin clubs and helped Napoleon Bonaparte's coup of 18 Brumaire (Nov. 9–10, 1799). As police minister under the Consulate, he organized a ruthlessly efficient spy system, but his opposition to Napoleon's being made first consul for life caused his dismissal (1802). He was, however, made a senator and continued to maintain an unofficial espionage system. He discovered the Cadoudal plot (1804) and was reappointed police minister in the same year. One of the indispensable men of the Napoleonic empire, Fouché is sometimes considered the father of the modern police state; nevertheless, his reforms of the criminal police were a lasting achievement. In 1809 he was created duke of Otranto as reward for his defense of Antwerp during Napoleon's absence in Austria. Shortly afterward, he entered into an intrigue with the English against Napoleon. Dismissed again (1810), he fled to Italy but soon afterward returned. In 1813, Napoleon made him governor of Illyria, and in 1814–15 he served both Napoleon and King Louis XVIII. After the second Bourbon restoration he was forced out of office and was sent as ambassador to Saxony. Shortly afterward, he was proscribed as a regicide, was exiled, and died in obscurity in Trieste.

See biographies by N. Forssell (1928, repr. 1970), S. Zweig (tr. 1930), and H. Cole (1971); R. E. Cubberly, The Role of Fouché during the Hundred Days (1969).

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