Posted at 16:42h
The Bourbon restoration in 1814 and 1815 represented an existential crisis for the French – it heralded a period during which France was at peace (aside from a small diversion in Spain in 1823) but followed a time when even some of the most loyal adherents of the ancien regime had come to reluctantly admire Napoleon’s extraordinary military triumphs. France’s gradual decline in the face of an increasing powerful Great Britain during the eighteenth century had been briefly followed by a twenty-year period when France and its parvenu ruler dominated the European continent. Now her economy was in ruins and the country was only saved from total humiliation by the adept diplomacy of Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, the aristocratic former Bishop, Foreign Minister to Napoleon, and architect of the restoration.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="515"]
Baron Gerard, Charles Maurice Prince de Talleyrand in his Study
, painted in 1808 (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wrightsman Gift).[/caption]