A life in the century

1787-1815: his early years

Ary SCHEFFER (1795-1858), Portrait de François Guizot, huile sur toile, vers 1833. Collection particulière. Cliché François Louchet.François Guizot left his mark on the political, intellectual and spiritual life of France for over sixty years through his personality, his thinking and his actions.

He was born under a divine right Monarchy and died when the Third Republic had finally been established. Originating from a bourgeois Protestant family in Nîmes, he was the elder son of a lawyer who had been sentenced to death by guillotine in 1794 for his Girondist beliefs. In August 1799, he and his brother Jean-Jacques were taken to Geneva by their mother to complete their education.He left Geneva in June 1805, returning to Paris to study law and with his brilliant mind and strong character, soon became a well-known figure in literary and philosophical circles that had distanced themselves from the Imperial regime. He then took up journalism and wrote for the journal Le Publiciste, where he met his future wife, Pauline de Meulan. In July 1812, influential connections led to him being appointed Professor of Modern History at the Sorbonne then, under the First Restoration, Secretary General in the Ministry of the Interior. During the Hundred Days, he carried out a mission in Ghent with Louis XVIII, for which he would later be severely criticised.

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