Choiseul. I. Etienne Francois, duke de, a French statesman, born June 28, 1719, died in Paris, May 8, 1785. He was educated at a Jesuit college, and entered the army, being at first known as count de Stainville, and attained the rank of lieutenant general. Mme. de Pompadour procured for him the embassy to Rome, and afterward to Vienna, and finally in 1758 the department of foreign affairs. A little after he was created duke and peer; in 1761 he was placed at the head of the war department, transmitting his former office to his cousin the duke de Praslin, and also presided over the navy. In 1766 he resumed his functions as minister of foreign affairs. He signalized his administration by many useful reforms in the army and navy. To prepare against the attacks of England, Choiseul concluded the treaty known as the family compact, by which all branches of the Bourbons were united to resist foreign aggression. He also published in 1764 the famous edict for the suppression of the Jesuits in France. When Mme. de Pompadour died, he could easily have preserved his office by courting the favor of her successor, Mme. du Barry; but he treated her with such contempt that he was dismissed and banished to his estate at Chanteloup. The regard in which he was held followed him to his place of exile, and his friends resorted thither to pay their respects to the fallen minister.
He had endeavored, but in vain, to prevent the partition of Poland, and when the event took place Louis XV. said, "This would not have been if Choiseul had been minister." He died childless, and notwithstanding his income from his offices, and the large fortune brought him by his wife, the daughter of the wealthy financier Crozat, he was in debt to such an amount that all his estates were barely sufficient to satisfy his creditors. II. Claude Autoine Gabriel, duke de, a peer of France, nephew and protege of the preceding, born in 1762, died in Paris, Dec. 2, 1838. As colonel of dragoons, in 1791, he was active in preparing the flight of Louis XVI. and the royal family. On the failure of this attempt he was arrested, but recovered his liberty by the amnesty granted on the acceptance of the constitution by the king. Appointed first gentleman usher to the queen, he attended her until her imprisonment, and left France only when a price was set upon his head. liaising a regiment of hussars, he joined the royalist army, was taken prisoner, escaped, embarked for India, was wrecked on the coast of France, arrested and sentenced to death by the directory, but saved by the revolution of the 18th P>rumaire. He kept aloof from public life during the reign of Napoleon, but on the restoration he was appointed a member of the new chamber of peers.
He refused to sentence Ney to death, pleaded for Gen. Merlin, implicated in a conspiracy, resigned on the advent of the Villele ministry, in 1820, the rank of major general of the national guard, and when the revolution of 1830 broke out, he was without his knowledge nominated, with Gerard and Lafayette, a member of the provisional government. He was afterward appointed aide-de-camp to Louis Philippe.