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DUC DE BROGLIE ACHILLE CHARLES LEONCE...

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Originally appearing in Volume V04, Page 627 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DUC DE BROGLIE ACHILLE CHARLES LEONCE VICTOR (1785–187o), statesman and diplomatist, son of the last-named, was born at Paris on the 28th of November 1785. His mother had shared her husband's imprisonment, but managed to escape to Switzerland, where she remained till the fall of Robespierre. She now returned to Paris with her children and lived there quietly until 1796, when she married a M. d'Argenson, grandson of Louis XV.'s minister of war. Under the care of his step-father young de Broglie received a careful and liberal education and made his entree into the aristocratic and literary society of Paris under the Empire. In 18oq, he was appointed a member of the council of state, over which Napoleon presided in person; and was sent by the emperor on diplomatic missions, as attache, to various countries. Though he had never been in sympathy with the principles of the Empire, de Broglie was not one of those who rejoiced at its downfall. In common with all men of experience and sense he realized the danger to France of the rise to power of the forces of violent reaction. With Decazes and Richelieu he saw that the only hope for a calm future lay in " the reconciliation of the Restoration with the Revolution." By the influence of his uncle, Prince Amedee de Broglie, his right to a peerage had been recognized; and to his own great surprise he received, in June 1814, a summons from Louis XVIII. to the Chamber of Peers. `There, after the Hundred Days, he distinguished himself by his courageous defence of Marshal Ney, for whose acquittal he, alone of all the peers, both spoke and voted. After this defiant act of opposition it was perhaps fortunate that his impending marriage gave him an excuse for leaving the country. On the 15th of February 1816, he was married at Leghorn to the daughter of Madame de Stael. He returned to Paris at the end of the year, but took no part in politics until the elections of September 1817 broke the power of the " ultra-royalists " and substituted for the Chambre introuvable a moderate assembly. De Broglie's political attitude during the years that followed is best summed up in his own words: " From 1812 to 1822 all the efforts of men of sense and character were directed to reconciling the Restoration and the Revolution, the old regime and the new France. From 1822 to 1827 all their efforts were directed to resisting the growing power of the counter-revolution. From 1827 to 1830 all their efforts aimed at moderating and regulating the reaction in a contrary sense." During the last critical years of Charles X.'s reign, de Broglie identified himself with the doctrinaires, among whom Royer-Collard and Guizot were the most prominent. The July revolution placed him in a difficult position; he knew nothing of the intrigues which placed Louis Philippe on the throne; but, the revolution once accomplished, he was ready to uphold the fait accompli with characteristic loyalty, and on the 9th of August took office in the new government as minister of public worship and education. As he had foreseen, the ministry was short-lived, and on the 2nd of November he was once more out of office. During the critical time that followed he consistently supported the principles which triumphed with the fall of Laffitte and the accession to power of Casimir Perier in March 1832. After the death of the latter and the insurrection of June 1832, de Broglie took office once more as minister for foreign affairs (October 11th). His tenure of the foreign office was coincident with a very critical period in international relations. But for the sympathy of Great Britain under Palmerston, the July monarchy would have been completely isolated in Europe; and this sympathy the aggressive policy of France in Belgium and on the Mediterranean coast of Africa had been in danger of alienating. The Belgian crisis had been settled, so far as the two powers were concerned, before de Broglie took office; but the concerted military and naval action for the coercion of the Dutch, which led to the French occupation of Antwerp, was carried out under his auspices. The good understanding of which this was the symbol characterized also the relations of de Broglie and Palmerston during the crisis of the first war of Mehemet Ali (q.v.) with the Porte, and in the affairs of the Spanish peninsulatheir common sympathy with constitutional liberty led to an agreement for common action, which took shape in the treaty of alliance between Great Britain, France, Spain and Portugal, signed at London on the 22nd of April 1834. De Broglie had retired from office in the March preceding, and did not return to power till March of the following year, when he became head of the cabinet. In 1836, the government having been defeated on a proposal to reduce the five per cents, he once more resigned, and never returned to official life. He had remained in power long enough to prove what honesty of purpose, experience of affairs, and common sense can accomplish when allied with authority. The debt that France and Europe owed him may be measured by comparing the results of his policy with that of his successors under not dissimilar circumstances. He had found France isolated and Europe full of the rumours of war; he left her strong in the English alliance and the respect of Liberal Europe, and Europe freed from the restless apprehensions which were to be stirred into life again by the attitude of Thiers in the Eastern Question and of Guizot in the affair of the " Spanish marriages." From 1836 to 1848 de Broglie held almost completely aloof from politics, to which his scholarly temperament little inclined him, a disinclination strengthened by the death of his wife on the 22nd of September 1838. His friendship for Guizot, however, induced him to accept a temporary mission in 1845, and in 1847 to go as French ambassador to London. The revolution of 1848 was a great blow to him, for he realized that it meant the final ruin of the Liberal monarchy—in his view the political system best suited to France. He took his seat, however, in the republican National Assembly and in the Convention of 1848, and, as a member of the section known as the " Burgraves," did his best to stem the tide of socialism and to avert the reaction in favour of autocracy which he foresaw. He shared with his colleagues the indignity of the coup d'eta.t of the 2nd of December 1851, and remained for the remainder of his life one of the bitterest enemies of the imperial regime, though he was heard to remark, with that caustic wit for which he was famous, that the empire was " the government which the poorer classes in France desired and the rich deserved." The last twenty years of his life were devoted chiefly to philosophical and literary pursuits. Having been brought up by his step-father in the sceptical opinions of the time, he gradually arrived at a sincere belief in the Christian religion. " I shall die," said he, "a penitent Christian and an impenitent Liberal." His literary works, though few of them have been published, were rewarded in 1856 by a seat in the French Academy, and he was also a member of another branch of the French Institute, the Academy of Moral and Political Science. In the labours of those learned bodies he took an active and assiduous part. He died on the 25th of January 187o. Besides his Souvenirs, in 4 vols. (Paris, 1885–1888), the duc de Broglie left numerous works, of which only some have been published. Of these may be mentioned Ecrits et discours (3 vols., Paris, 1863); Le Libre Echange et l'impoo"t (Paris, 1879) ; Vues sur le gouvernement de la France (Paris, 1861). This last was confiscated before publication by the imperial government. See Guizot, Le Duc de Broglie (Paris, 1870), and Memoires (Paris, 1858–1867) ; and the histories of Thureau-Dangin and Duvergier de Hauranne.
End of Article: DUC DE BROGLIE ACHILLE CHARLES LEONCE VICTOR (1785–187o)
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