Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne

Born: July 9 1769
Died: February 7 1834
The early friend and biographer of Napoleon. He was born at Sens in 1769. His friendship with Napoleon began at the military academy of Brienne, where they were class-fellows, but they did not meet for some time after leaving school, as Bourrienne’s humble birth precluded him from military service. In 1789, having embraced the career of diplomacy, he was sent to Vienna, and thence proceeded to Leipsic where he studied for some time. In 1792 he returned to Paris and renewed his close acquaintance with Bonaparte. Towards the close of the same year he was sent as Secretary of Legation to Stuttgart, but the fall of the monarchy a few months later threw him out of office. He was imprisoned for a short time by the Saxon Government as an adherent of the Revolution, and did not return to Paris till 1795. In the following year, after a slight coldness between the friends, Napoleon invited Bourrienne to become his private secretary. The offer was accepted, and for six years the two lived on the most intimate and friendly terms. It was during this period that he accompanied Napoleon to Egypt. In 1802 implication in the disgraceful failure of the army-contractors caused his admissal. Three years later, however, he was sent as charged affaires to Hamburg. There he was accused of peculation, and was in consequence recalled and compelled to pay one million francs into the public treasury. Bourrienne never forgave this and became one of Napoleon’s bitterest enemies, and after the first abdication held office for a short time under Talleyrand. In 1815 he was specially excluded from Napoleon’s amnesty and fled to Belgium. After the fall of the emperor, he sat for some years in the Chamber of Representatives, but his official salary could not support his extravagance, and in 1828 he took refuge from his creditors in Belgium. There he occupied himself in drawing up the Memoires of Napoleon, which were published in 1829 and 1830. The revolution of 1830 and the discomforts of his private life so preyed upon his mind that his reason became unhinged, and he had to be removed to an asylum near Caen, where he died in 1834. Bourrienne’s Memoires, 10 vols. 8vo, 1829-31, contain much interesting information regarding Napoleon, but while lively and entertaining, they are in many points to be received with caution. Some of the inaccuracies were pointed out by Boulay de la Meurthe in Bourrienne et ses erreurs, 2 vols. 1830.

All books by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne