Jean Gilbert Victor Fialin Persigny, duke de, a French politician, born in the department of Loire, Jan. 11,1808, died in Nice, Jan. 13,1872. His family being in reduced circumstances, he enlisted in the army as a private when 17 years old, was afterward admitted to the military school of Saumur, and rejoined the army as a non-commissioned officer of hussars. After the revolution of 1830, his loyalty being suspected, he was dismissed on a charge of insubordination. Going to Paris in search of employment, he joined the editorial staff of the Temps. He is said to have been strongly attracted at this time by the doctrines of the Saint-Simonians, and to have proposed sharing the retreat of Pere Enfantin at Menilmontant; but the statement has been authoritatively denied, as has also the assertion that he went to the Vendue at the time of the duchess de Berry's presence there in 1832. About 1833 he ceased to use his patronymic, Fialin, and assumed the title of viscount de Persigny, which was hereditary in his family, but had been suffered to lie dormant for several generations. In 1834 he abandoned all hope of a Bourbon restoration, and .established a journal, L'Occident frangais, for the propagation of Bonapartist principles.
A close intimacy sprung up between him and Louis Napoleon, and Persigny at once set to work to organize the Bonapartist party. One result of his exertions was the attempt upon Strasburg in 1836. More fortunate than his companions, he escaped and went to England, where he published Relation de Fentreprise duprince Napoleon-Louis (London, 1837). In July, 1840, he participated in the landing at Boulogne, for which he was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. From Doullens, where he was first incarcerated, he was allowed to remove on account of ill health to Versailles, where he enjoyed comparative liberty. Here he wrote an essay entitled L'Utilite des pyramides d'Egypte (1844), which he presented to the academy of sciences, and in which he asserts that those gigantic constructions were merely built to protect the valley of the Nile against the encroachments of the sand of the desert. On the revolution of 1848 he returned to active life, and was chosen as Louis Napoleon's aide-decamp, and appointed to a high rank in the staff of the national guard. In 1849 he was elected to the legislative assembly, and proved an uncompromising supporter of the presidential policy.
During his occupancy of this position he was sent on a temporary mission to Berlin. On the coup d'etat of Dec. 2, 1851, in the preparation of which he was concerned, he appeared at the head of the 42d regiment of the line and took possession of the hall of the assembly. He was appointed a member of the consultative committee. On May 27, 1852, he married Egle Napoleone Albine, granddaughter of Marshal Ney, and at the same time received the title of count and a gratuity of 500,000 francs. In January, 1852, he was appointed minister of the interior in place of M. de Mor-ny, who had refused to sign the decree confiscating the Orleans property; he continued to hold this office till April, 1854, when he resigned on account of ill health. The following year he was appointed ambassador to England; he resigned in April, 1858, was reappointed in May, 1859, and was recalled to France in November, 1860, to resume the place of minister of the interior and to reorganize that department, which he did in accordance with the liberal ideas then affected by the emperor. In 1863, however, the parliamentary elections resulting in the overwhelming defeat of the ministry, he resigned on June 23. On Sept. 13 he was made a duke.
In his place in the senate, and through the public press, he continued to be a persistent worker in the Bonapartist interest; and his occasional letters on public affairs were often supposed to be directly inspired by Napoleon. He defended the policy of the emperor in the matter of the Franco-German war, and was faithful to him until the revolution of Sept. 4, 1870, when he retired from political life.