Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes

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Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes (20 December 1717 – 13 February 1787) was a French statesman and diplomat. He served as Foreign Minister from 1774 during the reign of Louis XVI, notably during the American War of Independence.

Vergennes rose through the ranks of the diplomatic service during postings in Portugal and Germany before receiving the important post of Envoy to the Ottoman Empire in 1755. While there he oversaw complex negotiations that resulted from the Diplomatic Revolution before being recalled in 1768. After assisting a pro-French faction to take power in Sweden, he returned home and was promoted to foreign minister.

Vergennes hoped that by giving French aid to the American rebels, he would be able to weaken Britain's dominance of the international stage in the wake of their victory in the Seven Years War. This produced mixed results as in spite of securing American independence France was able to extract little material gain from the war, while the costs of fighting damaged French national finances in the run up to the Revolution. He went on to be a dominant figure in French politics during the 1780s.


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