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His family

His father, Hervé de Tocqueville:
The head of the family
« After so many hopes dashed, lives changed, and illusions destroyed, I felt the need to seek refuge from the disappointing spectacle of human passions in the soothing bosom of my family. »
(Hervé de Tocqueville, Memoirs)

The only man in his family to have survived the bloody days of the Terror, Hervé de Tocqueville had to rapidly assume the role of head of the family clan. Guided by a sense of duty, he became, as he had promised, the tutor to Louis and Christian de Chateaubriand, the two children of the couple that had been guillotined. He also looked after Madame de Chateaubriand, the widow of Auguste-Rene, and took it upon himself to restore, via negotiations and proceedings, to restore as best he could the famili's nobiliary fortune, as well as those of the Rosanbo and Clérel de Tocqueville families. His tenacity in this area was very successful, and he ensured that his entire family had fortunes that were worthy of their name and their history. In addition, until his death he scrupulously managed the family's estates and holdings, as well as their division between his three children, who were at the center of all of his concerns. His moral authority and influence over his children were unquestionable, and he did not hesitate to intervene and use his influence in their choices of careers and spouses. This made him "the best support and the surest guide for all of his children", according to Alexis de Tocqueville (who owed his position as apprentice magistrate at the court of Versailles to his father's persistent and efficient appeal to the appropriate persons). But it was above in ethical and intellectual matters that this charismatic figure with his aristocratic generosity - this child of the Enlightenment, this great servant of the State - made the greatest impression on his son. Alexis inherited his father's concern for the public welfare, as well as a taste for 17th and 18th century literature - as the testamentary inventory of his library at Clairoix shows. After retiring from public life in 1830, and having lost his wife in 1836, he spent his final years at Clairoix, not far from Compiègne and the domaine de Baugy. He did so in the company of his former housekeeper, Madame Guermarquer, who had become his new companion, as the town's population rolls attest. He used his free time to relive a final time what had been the great drama of his life, the French Revolution, as the author of a Philosophical History of the Reign of Louis XV and a Brief Look at the Reign of Louis XVI. He then spent the very last years of his life writing his Mémoires, which unfortunately remain largely unpublished.   play sound extractlire l'extrait sonore  

Cover of the partially unpublished manuscript of the Mémoires, Hervé de Tocqueville

Cover of the partially unpublished manuscript of the Mémoires, Hervé de Tocqueville, Volume I
© AD Manche / Poirier

Family Portrait

Family Portrait, anonymous
© AD Manche/Poirier


Manuscript of the Mémoires of Hervé de Tocqueville, first volumes

Manuscript of the Mémoires of Hervé de Tocqueville, first volumes
© AD Manche/Poirier

Elévation to the peerage

Elévation to the peerage ; private collection
© AD Manche/Poirier


De la charte provinciale

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