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The Baron de Breteuil and the Pavillon de Breteuil
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Summary
Foreword
The Origins of the Château de Saint-Cloud (1577-1658)
Monsieur, Duc d'Orléans and the Trianon de Saint-Cloud (1658-1701)
The Pavillon du Mail
The Baron de Breteuil and the Pavillon de Breteuil
The Pavillon d'Italie and Napoléon Bonaparte
The Restoration
The Residence of Princesse Mathilde
The 'siège de Paris' (1870) and the Convention of the Metre
The BIPM from 1875 to the Present Day
Related articles
The Abbé de Breteuil
The Baron de Breteuil
Plan of the Pavillon de Breteuil in 1793
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The Pavillon du Mail became known as the Pavillon de Breteuil in 1785 when it became associated with the most distinguished member of the Breteuil family, Louis-Auguste le Tonnelier, Baron de Breteuil (1730-1807), nephew of the Abbé de Breteuil.

The Baron had a distinguished career in the diplomatic service of the King. He was ambassador to Russia during the reigns of Elizabeth and Catherine II. He was then ambassador to Sweden where, in the midst of an acute conflict between two factions of the Diet, he managed to swing the assembly to the interests of France. The Baron was later sent to Naples and subsequently to Vienna where he represented Louis XVI in mediating between Prussia and Austria over the Bavarian succession: he was the principal figure in negotiating the Treaty of Teschen signed on 13 May 1779. The Baron returned to France in 1783 and was made Minister of the King's Household and Minister for Paris. In 1784, along with the Minister of Finance, Calonne, he was charged with negotiating the purchase by Marie-Antoinette of the Domaine de Saint-Cloud from the Duc d'Orléans. On successful completion of this transaction, which marked the final departure of the Orléans family from Saint-Cloud, the Baron was rewarded by being given the administration of the Domain and the Pavillon du Mail - henceforth the Pavillon de Breteuil - as his official residence. It is recorded that for the first visit of Marie-Antoinette to Saint-Cloud the Baron prepared a fête in her honour. This was to have taken place at the Pavillon de Breteuil on 26 September 1785 but was cancelled at the last moment on the news of the death of the Queen of Sardinia.

The Baron was a man whose humanitarian and social views were far in advance of his time. During his period as Minister for Paris, he introduced far-reaching reforms in the hospitals and prisons of the city. He also took a great interest in the world of science and became a member of the Academy of Sciences on 11 December 1785. It was to the Baron de Breteuil that Cassini IV turned in 1785 for support in his request to the King for substantial funds to re-equip the Paris Observatory. These funds were supplied. Cassini and the Baron also devised a scheme to teach English to some of the best French instrument makers with a view to sending them to England to learn skills which, at that time, were more advanced there. Following a dispute with Loménie de Brienne the Baron resigned from the King's service in 1787. He was recalled two years later and from the 11th to the 16th July 1789 he was the King's chief minister. The Baron fled the country on 17 or 18 July 1789. The last service he was able to render to his King was a mission to other European sovereigns. For this he was entrusted, on 6 October 1790, with a literal 'Carte blanche', a blank sheet of paper carrying nothing but the King's signature.

In 1793, his estate was declared a property of the State and put in the charge of a caretaker, as an annex to the Château de Saint-Cloud. On his return to France in 1802 the Baron de Breteuil asked for the return of his estate, but the Pavillon had by then been reintegrated into the Domaine de Saint-Cloud and was considered state property.

The plan of the Pavillon de Breteuil and of the Parc de Saint-Cloud in 1793 (Archives Départementales des Yvelines) clearly shows how things were at that time and allows subsequent (minor) modifications (including a change in the centre roof line, rounding of the 'Grandes Salles', and new outbuildings) to be recognized.



Related articles

The Abbé de Breteuil
The Baron de Breteuil
Plan of the Pavillon de Breteuil in 1793