On This Day in Napoleonic History – 31 March 1814

31Napoleon arrives in Fontainebleau, having become the first French monarch to lose the capital since the 15th century

The day before, Talleyrand had set up provisional government that immediately began peace negotiations. Although the Allies were open to the idea of regency for Napoleon II, with Marie-Louise acting as regent, Talleyrand, who knew that he personally couldn’t expect any benefits from the Bonapartes, persuaded the Allies that brining the Bourbons back was the best course of action for Europe. This was only one of many examples of Talleyrand’s treachery.

Napoleon once said of his foreign minister, who was dishonest to the point of selling French military secrets to Austria behind Napoleon’s back, ‘You are nothing but shit in silk stockings.’ To which Talleyrand replied, once Napoleon was safely out of the room, ‘It’s a pity that such a great man should be so ill-bred.’ Inexplicably, Napoleon forgave him time and time again, giving him important government posts.

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