Secret du Roi

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Group.png Secret du Roi  
(Intelligence service)Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Formation1722
Founder• Louis XV
• Cardinal Fleury
Extinction1774?
HeadquartersFrance
Typeintelligence agency
historical intelligence service

Founded in 1722, le Secret du Roi (The King's Secret Service) was the secret service of King Louis XV. It is the heir to the "Services" (also called black cabinet) of Cardinal Richelieu and the ancestor of the modern French BCRA and DGSE. It played an important role in arming the American "insurgents" in the 1770s and worked to create chaos in a rising Russia.

History

When it was created in 1722, King Louis XV entrusted its administration to Cardinal Fleury, who would remain in control for twenty years. Successively led by Prince de Conti, Jean-Pierre Tercier and Count de Broglie, this secret diplomacy, employing thirty-two people, aimed to control the ministers and increase the influence of France in Eastern Europe. The royal French ministers, inherited from his father Louis XIV, were unaware of the existence of the secret cabinet.[1]

The King's Secret Service included an intelligence service (oral reports, interception of letters) and a foreign correspondence service allowing parallel diplomacy (a network of secret agents abroad that the king paid from his purse, in particular the Count of Vergennes, Baron de Breteuil, Chevalier d'Éon, General Monnet, Tercier).

The Secret Service first endeavored to forge an alliance with Austria and Russia in order to separate them from Prussia and England. Originally, the Secret's objective was to influence important persons and parties in order to install a Frenchman, Prince de Conti, on the throne of Poland (at the time, the Polish king was elected by the nobility). Louis XV then thought of an alliance between Sweden, Prussia and Poland, to face an Austro-Russian alliance. This first objective ended in failure.

Especially since Treaty of Aachen in 1748 ended the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the "lost peace" after the war, Louis XV took greater interest in his diplomatic service and the country's foreign policy. From that moment on, Conti had a big say in foreign policy through the king. He publicly criticized the ministers responsible for their failure in the negotiations to conclude peace and developed his own French foreign policy.

The service then worked, shortly after the Seven Years' War (1756-63), on the preparation of a French landing in England, which never took place.

The King's Secret Service also worked to influence the foreign policy of European states, like any secret service. Its existence was not discovered until a few days before the death of Louis XV, in 1774.

On the death of Louis XV and the accession of his grandson, Louis XVI, the King's Secret Service was dissolve, but the intelligence personnel were inherited by Louis XVI.

Its agents, still active, in particular the Count de Broglie, played an important role in the American war of independence. Thus, Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais supplied weapons to the “insurgents”.

Secret Objectives for Russia

With a certain degree of probability, it can be argued that regarding Russia, tasks of a destructive nature were given to the King's Secret Service. This is evidenced, in particular, by the following quotes:

Marquis de Broglie, head of the King's Secret Service:

 “As for Russia, we ranked it among the rank of European powers only in order to later exclude it from this rank and deny it even the right to think about European affairs ... Let it fall into a lethargic sleep, from which it will be awakened only by internal turmoil, for a long time and carefully prepared by us. By constantly stirring up these troubles, we will prevent the Muscovite government from thinking about foreign policy."[2]

King Louis XV in a secret dispatch to an agent in St. Petersburg:

   “You certainly know, and I repeat this very clearly, that the only goal of my policy towards Russia is to remove it as far as possible from European affairs. Anything that can plunge her into chaos, the former darkness, is beneficial to me. [3]

The Secret du Roi was behind the 1741 palace revolution in Russia that brought Empress Elizabeth to the throne. It included courtier Jacques-Joachim Trotti, marquis de La Chétardie and Elizabeth's personal physician Jean Armand de Lestocq.


References

  1. Gilles Perrault. Le Secret du Roi, 3 vol., Paris, Fayard, 1992-1996.
  2. А. Л. Зорин. Кормя двуглавого орла: литература и государственная идеология в России в последней трети XVIII-первой трети XIX века. М., НЛО, 2001. p. 84.
  3. Россия и Франция: XVIII-XX вв. (отв. ред. П. П. Черкасов). Т. 2. М., Наука, 1998. p. 22.