Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau

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Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau (March 9, 1749 – 2 April 1791) was a French revolutionary, as well as a writer, diplomat, freemason, journalist and French politician at the same time. He was a popular orator and statesman. During the French Revolution, he was a moderate, favoring a constitutional monarchy built on the model of Great Britain. He unsuccessfully conducted secret negotiations with the French monarchy in an effort to reconcile it with the Revolution.

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Family history

The family of Riqueti (sometimes spelled Riquet), originally of the small town of Seyne (but the family has its distant origins in Italy), became wealthy through merchant trading in Marseilles. In 1570, Jean Riqueti bought the château and seigniory of Mirabeau, which had belonged to the great Provençal family of Barras. In 1685, Honoré Riqueti obtained the title marquis de Mirabeau. He died in 1737.

His son, Jean Antoine, grandfather of Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, served with distinction through all the later campaigns of the reign of Louis XIV. At the Battle of Cassano (1705), he suffered a neck wound so severe he thereafter had to wear a silver stock. Because he tended to be blunt and tactless, he never rose above the rank of colonel. On retiring from the service, he married Françoise de Castellane with whom he had three sons: Victor (marquis de Mirabeau), Jean Antoine (bailli de Mirabeau) and Louis Alexandre (Comte de Mirabeau). Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau was the son of Victor.

Early life

Honoré Mirabeau was born at Le Bignon, near Nemours, the eldest surviving son of the economist Victor de Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau and his wife Marie-Geneviève de Vassan. He was also the fifth child and second son of the couple. When he was three years old, a virulent attack of smallpox left his face disfigured. This, combined with Mirabeau's resemblance to his maternal ancestors and his fondness for his mother, contributed to his father's dislike of him.[1] Destined for the army, at age eighteen, he was entered at military boarding school in Paris in the regiment of Berri-Cavaleria at Saints.[2] Of this school, which had Joseph Louis Lagrange for its professor of mathematics, there is an amusing account in the life of Gilbert Elliot who met Mirabeau there. On leaving school in 1767 he received a commission in a cavalry regiment which his grandfather had commanded years before.

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