Constant de Rebecque, Benjamin

POLITICIAN, WRITER (SWITZERLAND)
BORN 23 Oct 1767, Lausanne - DIED 17 Dec 1830, Paris
REAL NAME Rebecque, Benjamin Constant de
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Père Lachaise, Rue du Repos 16 (division 29, 1re ligne, S, 31)

Benjamin Constant was educated privately and at the University of Erlangen. Between 1780 and 1785 he lived in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland and England. From 1788 until 1794 he was employed at the court of Brunswick. In 1789 he married Minna von Cramm, but after he met Charlotte de Hardenberg in 1793 he seperated from Minna.

In 1794 he met Germaine de Staël in Lausanne. They conducted an affair for sixteen years and corraborated intellectually. In 1800 he developed a passion for Anna Lindsay, but their liaison ended in 1801. In 1803 he considered marrying Amélie Fabri, but in the same year he travelled to Germany with Germaine. In 1804 he met Goethe and Schiller and in the same year Germaine refused to marry him. His passion for Anna Lindsay returned and at the same time he thought of marrying Charlotte de Hardenberg. In 1805 his close friend Julie Talma died and after quarrels with Germaine in 1807 he married Charlotte secretly in 1808. In 1811 he finally said goodbye to Germaine.

After the fall of Napoleon in 1814 he returned to Paris and wrote violent articles against the emperor. When Napoleon returned they had a talk and he entered into the service of the emperor. Constant was instrumental in the drafting of the "Acte Additional" that was to transform Napoleon's empire into a constitutional monarchy. Constant adapted the constitution that had been accepted by Louis XVIII and modified it. Napoleon accepted in on 24 Apr 1815 as an addition to the existing laws. In a plebiscite it was approved and on 1 Jun 1815 it became formal law.

After Napoleon's second abdication a few weeks later Constant went to London, where he published his novel "Adolphe". He was holding on to his liberal views and in September 1816 he returned to Paris with Charlotte after he had apologized to Louis XVIII. He worked as a journalist until his death in 1830 and was deputy for Sarthe (1819-1822) and Strassbourg (1827-1830).

Related persons
• met Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
• worked for Napoleon I Bonaparte
• was a friend of Récamier, Juliette
• met Schiller, Johann Christoph Friedrich von
• met Shelley, Mary

Sources
• Culbertson, Judi & Tom Randall, Permanent Parisians, Robson Books, London, 1991
Benjamin Constant - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Images

The grave of Benjamin Constant at Père Lachaise, Paris.
Picture by Androom (06 Mar 1995)

 


Corcos, Vittorio Matteo

Published: 11 May 2008
Last update: 25 Oct 2014