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TALLEYRAND Charles Maurice - Letter Signed 1802 receiving maps of England and Scotland

  • £725.00

Charles Maurice TALLEYRAND (1754-1838)

Letter Signed (“ch. Mau. Talleyrand”) as Foreign Minister to the Minister of Finances [Martin Gaudin, later duc de Gaëte], asking him to order that some maps of England and Scotland be released from customs and brought to him.

1 page folio in French with integral blank leaf, Paris, 15 brumaire an 11 [6 November 1802].    

Trans: “Citizen Marès, of the engineers’ brigade and deputy commander of commercial relations in Hull has sent me, Citizen Minister, a collection of topographical maps of England and of Scotland for the First Consul. These maps are currently with customs in Paris. Citizen Lainé who will bring you this letter is the man to whom Citizen Marès had entrusted them and who has brought them to France. I ask you to kindly order that they be handed over to him so that he may bring them to me.”

The Peace of Amiens, signed on 25 March 1802, brought with it a tremendous relief to the war-weary in both France and Britain, and a stream of visitors between the two countries. It also brought great opportunities for discreet espionage by both sides. The delegation for commercial relations no doubt provided, as it would in later centuries, a suitable posting for intelligence gathering.

The Treaty of Amiens, signed by Napoleon’s brother Joseph and by Lord Cornwallis for Britain, held few advantages for Britain (it was the same Cornwallis who, two decades earlier, had capitulated to the Americans at Yorktown). Of Britain’s conquests over the previous years, only Ceylon and Trinidad remained, but whatever the losses, Britain was in a poor position to continue the war, its finances badly overstretched.

When the peace broke down in May 1803, Napoleon again turned his thoughts to an invasion of England, no doubt finding the maps in question very useful.

A contemporary note at the top right suggests that the maps were sent to the topographical bureau.

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