Antoine Pierre Berryer
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Berryer was born in Paris, the son of an eminent advocate and counsellor to the parlement. He was educated at the Collège de Juilly, on leaving which he adopted the profession of the law; he was admitted advocate in 1811, and in the same year he married. In the great conflict of the period between Napoleon I and the Bourbons, Berryer, like his father, was an ardent Legitimist; and in the spring of 1815, at the opening of the campaign of the Hundred Days, he followed Louis XVIII of France to Ghent as a volunteer.
After the second restoration he distinguished himself as a courageous advocate of moderation in the treatment of the military adherents of the emperor. He assisted his father and Dupin in the unsuccessful defence of Marshal Ney before the chamber of peers; and he undertook alone the defence of General Cambronne and General Debelle, procuring the acquittal of the former and the pardon of the latter. By this time he had a very large business as advocate, and was engaged on behalf of journalists in many press prosecutions.
Berryer stood forward with a noble resolution to maintain the freedom of the press, and severely censured the rigorous measures of the police department. In 1830, not long before the fall of Charles X, Berryer was elected a member of the chamber of deputies. He appeared there as the champion of the king and encouraged him in his reactionary policy. After the revolution of July, when the Legitimists withdrew in a body, Berryer alone retained his seat as deputy. He resisted, but unsuccessfully, the abolition of the hereditary peerage. He advocated trial by jury in press prosecutions, the extension of municipal franchises and other liberal measures.
In May 1832 he hastened from Paris to see the duchess of Berry on her landing in the south of France for the purpose of organizing an insurrection in favour of her son, the duke of Bordeaux, since known as the Comte de Chambord. Berryer attempted to turn her from her purpose; and failing in this he set out for Switzerland. He was, however, arrested, imprisoned and brought to trial as one of the insurgents. He was immediately acquitted. In the following year he pleaded for the liberation of the duchess, made a memorable speech in defence of François-René de Chateaubriand, who was prosecuted for his violent attacks on the government of Louis-Philippe of France, and undertook the defence of several Legitimist journalists.
Among the more noteworthy events of his subsequent career were his defence of Louis Napoleon after the ridiculous affair of Boulogne, in 1840, and a visit to England in December 1843, for the purpose of formally acknowledging the pretender, Henri, comte de Chambord, then living in London, as "Henry V" and lawful king of France. Berryer was an active member of the National Assembly convoked after the revolution of February 1848, again visited the pretender, then at Wiesbaden, and still fought in the old cause. This long parliamentary career was closed by a courageous protest against the coup d'état of 2 December 1851.
After a lapse of twelve years, however, he appeared once more in his forsaken field as a deputy to the Corps Législatif. Berryer was elected member of the Académie française in 1854. A visit paid by this famous orator to Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux in 1865 was made the occasion of a banquet given in his honour by the benchers of the Temple and of Lincoln's Inn. In November 1868 he was removed by his own desire from Paris to his country seat at Augerville, and there he died on 29 November.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Berryer, Antoine Pierre". Encyclopædia Britannica 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- "Pierre-Antoine Berryer (1790-1868)" (in French). Académie française. 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of January 2009 of the French Wikipedia.