Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord's career as a French diplomat began under the rule of Louis XVI, survived the Revolution, and continued during the reigns of Napoleon I, Louis XVIII, and Louis-Philippe. Despite the rapidly changing political beliefs of the time, Talleyrand stayed loyal to his most important cause: the future of a strong and unified France. Although a foot injury as a child kept Talleyrand out of the military, he climbed the ranks of the religious order. As the Bishop of Autun he represented the First Estate, the Clergy, in the States-General of 1789.
Talleyrand supported the revolutionary cause and authored one of the twenty-two articles in the Declaration of the Rights of Man. For this bold step he was excommunicated from the Church, a decision that would later be overturned during Napoleon's reign.
Under Napoleon I, Talleyrand was appointed Grand Chamberlain and Vice-elector of the Empire. His supreme talent as the main French negotiator became evident at the Congress of Vienna when he negotiated a lenient treaty that allowed for France to return to her 1792 boundaries with no reparations.
In 1815, Napoleon's return to France marked a reversal of the treaty and this second agreement was far less lenient for France. Soon after this decision, Talleyrand resigned from many of his domestic duties and spent his final years as the French Ambassador to St. James's. Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Prince of Bénévent, was buried at the Château de Valençay on May 17, 1838.