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Le Clos de l'Aronde à Clairoix

After withdrawing from public life in 1830 and the death of his wife in 1836, Hervé de Tocqueville had no reason to remain permanently in his Paris residence, and he appears to have looked for a peaceful spot that was removed from the tumult of life in the capital. Since he had given his children the use of the various family houses - and particularly Alexis, who occupied the chateau de Tocqueville , where Hervé had never really lived - he decided to buy a new residence where he could spend the last years of his life. In 1843, he decided on Le Clos de l'Aronde, a property in the little village of Clairoix, not far from Compiègne, in the department of the Oise. His choice can partly be explained by its proximity to the property of Baugy, where his second son Édouard lived with his large family. The house itself was recent, as it was built in 1817, and its vast garden and numerous outbuildings did not detract from its air of modesty and simplicity - all of which made it a perfect retreat for the elder Tocqueville. He divided his days between the everyday business of the town (he was a town councilor between 1846 and 1849), looking after his children, with whom he enjoyed a voluminous correspondence, and his love of study. It was during the years he spent at Clairoix that he wrote his two most important works: Philosophical History of the Reign of Louis XV in 1847, and a Brief Look at the Reign of Louis XVI in 1850. In both these essays, he remained faithful to an aristocratic concept of history, driven solely by the actions of great men. Nevertheless, he faulted the kings for their blindness to the spirit of the 18th century, and the nobility for maintaining their tight grip on their privileges. This blend of the aristocracy and the Enlightenment is reflected in the large library that filled the walls of his study at Clairoix, as well as in the text of his Mémoires, which he completed in 1852.
Town registers from the period indicate that he did not live alone at Le Clos de l'Aronde, but in the company of Madame Guermarquer, often referred to as "Madame Guer" in Alexis's letters, who did not appear to like her much. She was none other than the family's former governess, and appears to have been Hervé de Tocqueville's companion in his old age. His sons, who never spent much time there, inherited the house and decided to sell it shortly after their father's death. Today, the building is occupied by the Clairois town hall.

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Le Clos d'Aronde

Le Clos d'Aronde
© Famille Duval-Arnoux / Mairie de Clairoix

Le Clos d'Aronde, which became town hall

Le Clos d'Aronde, which became town hall
© Association Art, histoire et parimoine de Clairoix / Mairie de Clairoix

Archives

Inventory after the death of Hervé de Tocqueville

Inventory after the death of Hervé de Tocqueville
© CHAN

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