A renegade bishop and aristocratic revolutionary, he helped make and break the power of Napoleon. With bravura he then dominated the Congress of Vienna which re-shaped Europe, but soon discovered that the Bourbons had, in his own words, 'learned nothing and forgotten nothing'. Disgrace followed. The Revolution of July 1830 finally brought a renewal of Talleyrand's former influence. So, in his late seventies, he arrived as ambassador in London, where he and his beautiful companion, the duchesse de Dino, dazzled and captivated British society. At the end, his famous death-bed reconciliation with the Catholic Church created almost as great a scandal as his notorious early life.
In this authoritative new biography, Talleyrand emerges as always ahead of his times. He urged the advantages of peace, while Europe was racked by war; he consistently advocated political moderation, a free press and a liberal constitution; he was a forceful proponent of Anglo-French entente; he understood the importance of free trade as the route to national prosperity; and he foresaw the rise of America as a great power. Robin Harris depicts a statesman of truly world-class stature.
Robin Harris studied at Oxford University, won the Gibbs Prize, and obtained a DPhil in modern history. In the 1970s and 1980s he worked in various political and governmental capacities, and is now consultant director of the London-based Politeia think tank and a regular contributor to a range of British and American journals, mainly on politics and foreign affairs. He is the author of Dubrovnik: A History and Valois Guyenne: A Study of Politics, Government and Society in Late Medieval France.