Florimond Claude, Comte de Mercy-Argenteau

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Florimont-Claude Mercy-Argenteau (1757)

Florimond Claude, comte de Mercy-Argenteau (20 April 1727- 25 August 1794) was an Austrian diplomat.

He was born in Liège, Belgium to Antoine, comte de Mercy-Argenteau, and entered the diplomatic service of Austria going to Paris in the train of Reichsfürst Kaunitz. He became Austrian minister at Turin, at St Petersburg, and in 1766 at Paris, where his first work was to strengthen the alliance between France and Austria, which was cemented in 1770 by the marriage of the dauphin, afterwards Louis XVI, with Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria, youngest daughter of Empress Maria Theresa. When four years later Louis and Marie Antoinette ascended the throne, Mercy-Argenteau became one of the most powerful personages at the French court by influencing and manipulating Marie-Antoinette, which made her unpopular with the French nobility and French people. He was in Paris during the turbulent years which heralded the French Revolution, and his powerful aid was given first to Loménie de Brienne, and then to Necker. In 1792 he became governor-general of the Austrian Netherlands, which had just been reduced to obedience by Austria, and here his ability and experience made him a very successful ruler. Although at first in favor of moderate courses, Mercy-Argenteau supported the action of Austria in making war upon his former ally after the outbreak of the French Revolution, and in July 1794 he was appointed Austrian ambassador to Britain, but he died a few days after his arrival in London.

He was played by Henry Stephenson in the 1938 Marie Antoinette film, and by Steve Coogan in the 2006 film of the same name.

See also[edit]

  • T. Juste, Le Comte de Mercy-Argenteau (Brussels 1863)
  • A. von Arneth and A. Geoff roy, Correspondances secretes de Marie Therese avec le comte de Mercy (Paris 1874)
  • A. von Arneth and J. Flammermont, Correspondance secrete de Mercy avec Joseph II et Kaunitz (Paris 1889-1891)
  • Mercy-Argenteau's Correspondances secretes de Marie Terese has been condensed and translated into English by Lilian Smythe under the title of A Guardian of Marie Antoinette (2 vols., London 1902)

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