Friday, May 29, 2009

Don't Mess With Talleyrand

Talleyrand, the political chameleon of Europe, Napoleon's foreign minister even when Napoleon believed Talleyrand to be "shit in silk stockings", did not have the best of relationships with the military.

During one particular meeting between the emperor, Talleyrand and a top military advisor, the military advisor decided that he was going to use the word "weaklings" to describe the citizenry of Europe... including France. Talleyrand, the only civilian present, politely asked for clarification.

The advisor explained, "We call 'weakling' anybody who is not military."

Talleyrand's rejoinder: "Ah yes, as we call military all those who are not civil."


  1. How funny. I love Talleyrand, though I happen to agree with Napoleon...of course that is WHY I love him ;)

  2. lol, Talleyrand was a character wasn't he? I love the 1780s-1820s; there were such characters running around the political stage of Europe.

  3. That is so witty! I must read more about Tallyrand.

  4. He's an interesting character! He was a club-footed bishop up until the French Revolution, at which point he just kept coolly adapting to every new situation. He's a little (or a lot, depending on your POV) morally repugnant, but he is marvelously entertaining.

  5. Oh my God, I didn't know that one. Any idea who the military adviser was ? (let's assume it was Davout, because I can't picture any of Napoleon's actual Ministers of War saying something like that)