Charles Joseph, comte de Flahaut
|Charles Joseph de Flahaut|
Charles Joseph, comte de Flahaut
|Born||21 April 1785|
|Died||2 September 1870(aged 85)|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret de Flahault, 2nd Baroness Keith|
|Issue||Charles, Duke of Morny
Emily Petty-Fitzmaurice, Marchioness of Lansdowne
|Parents||Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
Adelaide Filleul, Marchioness of Souza-Botelho
Auguste Charles Joseph de Flahaut de La Billarderie, Comte de Flahaut de La Billarderie (21 April 1785 – 2 September 1870) was a French general and statesman. He was the lover of Napoleon I's stepdaughter, Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland, by whom he had an illegitimate son, Charles Auguste Louis Joseph Demorny, known later as the Duc de Morny.
He was born in Paris, the son of Alexandre Sébastien de Flahaut de La Billarderie, comte de Flahaut de La Billarderie, beheaded at Arras in February 1793, and his wife Adélaïde Filleul, afterwards Mme de Souza-Botelho. Charles de Flahaut was generally recognized to be the offspring of his mother's liaison with Talleyrand, with whom he was closely connected throughout his life. His mother took him with her into exile in 1792, and they remained abroad until 1798.
He entered the army as a volunteer in 1800, and received his commission after the Battle of Marengo. He became aide-de-camp to Joachim Murat, and was wounded at the Battle of Landbach in 1805. At Warsaw he met Anne Poniatowska, Countess Potocka, with whom he rapidly became intimate.
Meanwhile the Countess Potocka had established herself in Paris, but Charles de Flahaut had by this time entered in his liaison with Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland. The birth of their son was registered in Paris on 21 October 1811 as Charles Auguste Louis Joseph Demorny, known later as the Duc de Morny.
After Napoleon's abdication in 1814 he submitted to the new government, but was placed on the retired list in September. He was assiduous in his attendance on Queen Hortense until the Hundred Days brought him into active service again.
He was saved from exile by Talleyrand's influence, but was placed under police surveillance. Presently he elected to retire to Germany, and thence to Great Britain, where he married in Edinburgh on 20 June 1817 Margaret Mercer Elphinstone (1788–1867), daughter of Admiral George Keith Elphinstone, 1st Viscount Keith, and after the latter's death 2nd Baroness Keith in her own right.
The French ambassador opposed the marriage, and Flahaut resigned his commission. His eldest daughter, Emily Jane, married Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 4th Marquess of Lansdowne. His youngest daughter, Georgiana Gabrielle de Flahaut, (d. 16 July 1907), married on 2 February 1871 the Marquis de Lavalette, who died in 1881.
The Flahauts returned to France in 1827, and, in 1830, king Louis Philippe gave the count the grade of lieutenant-general and made him a peer of France. He remained intimately associated with Talleyrand's policy, and was, for a short time in 1831, ambassador at Berlin.
He was afterwards attached to the household of the duke of Orléans, and, in 1841, was sent as ambassador to Vienna, where he remained until 1848, when he was dismissed and retired from the army. After the coup d'état of 1851, he was again actively employed, and from 1860 to 1862 was ambassador at the court of St James's. He died in Paris on 1 September 1870.
In the opinion of the author of a biography on de Flahaut in Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh edition):
The comte de Flahaut is perhaps better remembered for his exploits in gallantry, and the elegant manners in which he had been carefully trained by his mother, than for his public services, which were not, however, so inconsiderable as they have sometimes been represented to be.
- Flahaut is also spelled Flahault
- Anonymous 1911.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Anonymous (1911). "Flahaut de la Billarderie, Auguste Charles Joseph, Comte de". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- Biographie chez charles-de-flahaut.fr (French)