Joseph Fouché: Man of Few Morals

Joseph Fouché was born on May 21, 1759 in the little village, Le Pellerin, near Nantes, France. He recieved an impressive education at the college of the Oratorians and took minor religious orders. 

He renounced his orders and religion, however, and became one of the most vociferous, brutal Revolutionaries to have ever lived, authorizing the murder of priests and nuns and desecrating countless chuches. 

"Alas, Fouché's enthusiasm had proved a little too effective, for when the blood from the mass executions in the center of Lyons gushed from severed heads and bodies into the streets, drenching the gutters of the Rue Lafont, the vile-smelling red flow nauseated the local residents, who irately complained to Fouché and demanded payment for damages. Fouché, sensitive to their outcry, obliged them by ordering the executions moved out of the city to the Brotteaux field, along the Rhône." (Napoleon Bonaparte by Alan Schom)
Fast Facts About the Faithless Fouché:
  • Hubert Cole wrote a biography about Fouché titled Fouché: The Unprincipled Patriot.
  • Joseph Fouché was described by his contemporaries as being: foul-mouthed, slovenly, ill-dressed, brutal, and sinister in appearance.
  • Ironically, Fouché was a loving family father and husband.
  • His wife was often described as being hideous or ugly.
  • Fouché was elected to the National Convention.
  • He voted for the death of Louis XVI.
  • The National Convention sent Fouché to the Vendée to quell the counter-revolutionaries, allowing him to employ any methods.
  • Fouché conducted dechristianization ceremonies in Lyon and other cities around France.  On his orders, priests and nuns were rounded up and drowned in rivers.
  • One of his cohorts was a former actor and playwright.
  • Though they both preferred brutal tactics in dealing with counter-revolutionaries, Fouché and Robespierre were enemies.
  • Many members of the Revolutionary Tribunal and the Committee of Public Safety felt that Fouché was brutal.
  • Robespierre turned on Fouché because he thought the man was "corrupt."
  • Once, while on a mission to Nivre, Fouché ransacked churches and inscribed the motto, "Death is an eternal sleep" on the gates of a cemetary in town.
  • Robespierre's sister, Charlotte, wrote in her memoirs about overhearing an argument between Fouché and her brother.  She describes a scene wherein Robespierre chastises Fouché for his brutal tactics in Lyon.
  • Fouché was a huge supporter of first.
  • Napoleon named Fouché his Minister of Police.  In that capacity, Fouché watched Napoleon's enemies, gathering damning information.
  • Fouché also watched Napoleon's mistresses, including Eléonore Denuelle. Spitefully, and perhaps erroneously, Fouché convinced Napoleon that the baby Denuelle gave birth to was not his.  The child, Charles Léon Denuelle, would grow to look a lot like the Emperor.
  • Talleyrand and Fouché worked together in convincing Napoleon to divorce Josephine.
  • Talleyrand did not like Fouché, but rather thought of him as a rat killer.
  • As Minister of Police, Fouché kept a close eye on things while Napoleon was off conquering the world.  Once, Napoleon heard rumors that Fouché was plotting a coup d'état.  He investigated the rumors but never found concrete proof.  Fouché escaped danger again.
  • With Napoleon's blessing, Fouché censored all written material in France, including newspapers and books.
  • When Fouché was caught colluding with exiled noblemen, Napoleon had him reassigned.
  • Eventually, Fouché would turn on Napoleon as well.  He was instrumental in getting Napoleon's abdication.
  • In his memoirs, Napoleon describes Fouché as "immoral and versatile."
  • Napoleon wrote, "If only I had hanged two men, Talleyrand and Fouché. I would still be on the throne today."
  • One the monarch was (briefly) restored, the nobles wanted nothing to do with the oily Fouché.
  • The wealthy Fouché spent his final days living in exile in Prague, Linz, and Trieste. 
  • He died on Christmas Day in 1820 and is buried in a cemetary in Ferrieres en Brie.


  1. I never knew about this infamous Fouché, wow, was he something else...he would make a fantastic villain in a novel, wouldn't he?

  2. If this guy was around today, he would win a Noble Peace Prize and be considered a hero by the UN.

  3. Joseph Fouche',
    Was a Interesting Man. My Grandfather nor the law or political.
    B.A.Psychology Pschotherapist/ Professor.
    Renee' V Fouche'

  4. Short fictional take on his last day:

  5. Stefan Zweig wrote an interesting biography about him in 1930: "Joseph Fouche. Portrait of a politician".

  6. Would have been interesting to meet him.
    3rd grand son of Joseph Fouche.

  7. I just wonder how a human been can be so rotten!

  8. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Times were not as they are today, he lived his life, and was not murdred as many have been. Clearly he was a politiciian far superior to what we have in power today. 3rd grand son, I agree it would have been interesting to meet him.

    4th grand nephew of Joseph Fouche.


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