The Earl of Mirabeau was one of the most peculiar figures of the French Revolution. He was an excellent speaker and, in theory, a defender of liberalism. His scandals and his double game with the monarchy caused him to be considered one of the most eccentric figures of the 18th century.
He was born with the name of Honoré Gabriel Riquet on March 9, 1749 at the castle of Le Bignon (France). He belonged to a noble family, but his youth was quite stormy, especially the relationship that Mirabeau had with his father. Since he refused to buy him a post in the army, Mirabeau devoted himself to accumulating debt. He was imprisoned after a scandal with the mistress of his regimental colonel.
In 1772, he married Emilie de Marignane, daughter of a marquis. Although he did not get a dowry, he did hope to inherit a great fortune. Mirabeau began spending all the money he hoped to get on the inheritance, which led to large debts. His father, seeing the situation his son was in, sued him. The judge ruled against the young earl, so he had to return to jail.
He was released from prison again, but this time he was restricted in freedom so that he could only move around his residence. Feeling trapped, the young Mirabeau fled. But again he had several scandals and his father sent him to jail. On this occasion, his stay in captivity served him to write his “Essay on despotism”. The writing of this text caused Mirabeau to have to flee to Switzerland. There he stayed for a few months, until he decided to return first to Lyon and, later, to Lourges.
[Tweet "Mirabeau hid his ambition to become the minister to save the monarchy"]
His father was not at all happy with his adventures, so he had the Pontarlier Court of Justice condemn him to be beheaded. Mirabeau escaped thanks to extradition, but he was hospitalized again. It was at this time that he wrote his criticisms of the judicial system used by the French monarchy.
After passing through Switzerland and England again, Mirabeau traveled to Prussia in 1785. His mission was to provoke a Franco-Prussian rapprochement. On the death of Frederick II of Prussia, he tried to get his successor to carry out liberal political reforms, but they were rejected. This caused Mirabeau to be primed against the Berlin court in "Secret history of the Berlin court”.
In 1788, he returned to France and tried to become a member of the Assembly of Notables. It failed so focused on the Third Estate, who elected him as his representative in Aix in 1789. Mirabeau stood out for his great oratory and his liberal proposals. Paris society was dazzled by him, as he contributed to making the goods of the clergy available to the nation.
However, behind his liberalism, Mirabeau hid the ambition to become the minister who saved the monarchy. He came into contact with Louis XVI from May 1790. From that position, he advised the monarch how to act, which caused him to be very frowned upon by the Assembly and the queen. His ideas were those of the establishment of a strong constitutional monarchy, similar to that used by the British. Still, he was elected president of the Assembly, a position he held for a short period of time.
His premature death on April 2, 1791 surprised everyone and was felt as a national mourning. He was buried with all honors in the Pantheon, but when his double game was discovered in 1793, his body was removed from there. He went down in history, not only because of the scandals he caused in his youth, but because of the double game that he led with the revolutionaries and with Louis XVI.
Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.