Jean-Baptiste Colbert correspondence with the abbé François Gaultier
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
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Overview and metadata sections
Jean-Baptiste Colbert, marquis de Torcy (1665-1746), was a French diplomat and minister of foreign affairs (1689-1715) who negotiated some of the most important treaties of the reign of Louis XIV. Trained as a lawyer, he succeeded his father as minister of foreign affairs in 1689. Torcy played a crucial role in the conferences that ended the war of Spanish Succession with the treaties of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714). Upon the death of Louis XIV in 1715 Torcy lost all political power.
The collection comprises 169 items dating from 1702 to 1714. Most of the correspondence presented in this collection consists of letters addressed to or drafts written by the abbé François Gaultier (d. 1720). Gaultier worked as a French diplomatic agent. He was stationed in London and integrated himself into the circles of the Tory opposition. Gaultier received Torcy's instructions from Versailles regarding the secret negotiations of the treaties of Utrecht and Rastatt. He then negotiated the terms proposed by Torcy with the English. In total, there are 88 letters written by Torcy. Of those, 79 are directly addressed to Gaultier. Most of these are either entirely or partially in cipher. Original keys for coding and decoding are present in the collection.
While Torcy's letters comprise the majority of the collection, there are also letters written to Gaultier by other agents associated with the peace negotiation. The most notable items are from the Chevalier de St. George (James Stuart), diplomats Nicolas Le Baillie Le Mesnager and the abbé Melchior de Polignac. There are also three letter books containing Gaultier's drafts of letters to Torcy, the Chevalier de St. George, Lord Lexington, and the Earl of Stafford. Among other copies of Gaultier's letters there are two letters that are likely written to Pope Clement XI and one that is written to Cardinal Filippo-Antonio Gualterio. Another notable item is a copy of a letter written by Louis XIV to Queen Anne.
This correspondence reveals Torcy's attempt to use the Tories' opposition to the Whig Duke of Marlborough to secure peace with the English crown. Since Marlborough was in command of the British armies, a peace agreement would benefit not only the French, but also the Tories. Thus, Gaultier both received instructions from France, and advised Torcy on the political situation in England.
Gift of Richard W. Foster, 1967, with subsequent purchase from Henri Saffroy, Paris, 1970
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Anton Matytsin
- Finding Aid Date
- January 2006
- Use Restrictions
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