Catherine Grand

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Catherine Noele Grand (née Worlée; 1762 – December 10, 1834) was the mistress and later the wife of French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, the first Prime Minister of France. From their marriage in 1802 until her death she was Catherine Noele Grand de Talleyrand-Périgord, Princesse de Bénévent. Madame Grand was known for her striking Nordic beauty,[1] as well as her ingenuous public comments.[2]

Life[edit]

Catherine Noele Worlée was born in the Danish possession of Tranquebar, Tamil Nadu, India, to a French colonial official stationed at nearby Pondicherry. In 1777, her family moved to Chandannagar, where she met George Francis Grand, a British civil servant of Huguenot descent stationed at Calcutta (since renamed "Kolkata"). They were wed in Calcutta in 1778, when Catherine was barely sixteen.

The couple separated soon after, because of her brief but scandalous affair with Sir Philip Francis, deputy of Warren Hastings, and Madame Grand removed to London. By 1783, when Vigee Le Brun painted her portrait there,[3] Catherine Grand had become a courtesan in Paris; she returned to Britain just before the French Revolution in 1789.

In 1794, Mme. Grand returned to France and there attracted the attention of French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, with whom she lived as mistress until 1802, when Napoleon Bonaparte pressed Talleyrand to marry her. After marriage the two gradually drifted apart. Madame Talleyrand began living alone, her husband eventually giving her enough money to live luxuriously in London.

In the last few years of her life, the Princesse de Bénévent returned to Paris. She died there on December 10, 1834, and her body was buried in Montparnasse Cemetery.[4]

References[edit]