Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Choiseul Faction

The Choiseul Faction grew around Étienne François, Duc de Choiseul, who acted as France's Foreign Minister. It was largely thanks to him that the marriage contract that would bring Marie Antoinette to the French court was arranged. Consequently, Marie Antoinette was one of his greatest supporters and worked constantly on bringing him back from exile.

The Duc de Choiseul
After the Duc de Choiseul successfully negotiated between Empress Maria Theresia and Louis XV, he became the centre of his fraction. Surprisingly quickly his supporters popped up at court and before long many found seats at the King's council. Among those who were a part of the Choiseul Faction were the nobles from Lorraine; Marie Antoinette's father had been of the Lorraine line and the Duc de Choiseul himself was of a Lorraine branch. Another prominent member was Madame de Gramont who happened to be the Duc's sister. Choiseul's rise had been largely thanks to Madame de Pompadour who was an avid supporter of him for as long as she lived.

Since the idea of the Austrian Dauphine had originated with the Choiseul Faction, they were absolutely anti-du Barry - a new mistress meaning new rivals.
It is said that the Choiseul Faction tried to sabotage Madame du Barry's official presentation at court by "hijacking" her hair-dresser and sending her carriage away. But, it went on as planned with a few alterations.

The main rival was the faction of the Duc d'Aiguillon who stood for pretty much everything that Choiseul was against. Where Choiseul preferred to see the end of the Jesuits, d'Aiguillon was prepared to help them. Choiseul supported the Parlements whereas d'Aiguillon was set on ruining them.

The Choiseul Faction suffered a severe setback when the Duc de Choiseul was dismissed from his position just six months after the wedding between Louis Auguste and Marie Antoinette. He never truly regained his former position and Marie Antoinette never succeeded in persuading her husband to bring him back. It can safely be said that the fall of the Choiseul faction was due to the Duc's inability to win the good graces of the future Louis XVI.

Later on when Louis XV became fatally ill, they pressured the King to confess and receive the sacrament as early as possible; that would effectively mean the removal of Madame du Barry from court. But once again, Louis XV went right till the last moment before finally dismissing du Barry.

While the Choiseul Faction had lost its front figure back in 1774, the Duc was not completely isolated. But ever since his all-but exile the Choiseul Faction never truly gained its' former glory.

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