Jean Etienne Marie Portalis, a French statesman, born at Beausset, Provence, April 1, 1745, died in Paris, Aug. 25,1807. He was an advocate at Aix, published a celebrated memorial " On the Validity of Protestant Marriages in France " (1770), and successfully conducted famous suits against Mirabeau and Beaumar-chais. Having gone to Paris in the beginning of 1794, he was imprisoned till the death of Robespierre, and in 1795 was elected to the council of ancients. He was proscribed by the directory in 1797, and fled to Switzerland and thence to Holstein, returning to France in 1800, when he was appointed successively a member of the commission for drawing up the new civil code and a councillor of state. In 1801 he was appointed director of public worship, and was chiefly instrumental in drawing up the concordat and the organic articles, and in organizing the remodelled French church. He was made a senator in 1803, and designated as one of the five members of the institute representing the French academy. In 1804 he was appointed minister of the interior and public worship.
A treatise by him on the philosophy of the 18th century and two collections of his public papers have been published. - His son, Count Joseph Marie (1778-1858), was minister plenipotentiary at Ratisbon in 1804, minister of the interior ad interim in 1807, councillor of state in 1808, and director general of the press in 1810, was banished in 1811 but recalled in 1813, and made president of the imperial court of Angers. He became ambassador in Rome in 1818, a peer of France in 1819, minister of justice in 1828 and of foreign affairs in 1829, and in the same year president of the court of cassation. Under Louis Philippe he was vice president of the house of peers, and under Napoleon III. a senator.