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Pradt, el Abate de


French prelate, diplomat, and publicist who supported napoleon i and promoted Spanish-American independence and other causes by his pen; b. Chateau de Pradt, Allanche, Auvergne, April 23, 1759; d. Paris, March 18, 1837. Born the second son of a large noble family, Dominique Georges Frédéric de Riom de Prolhiac de Pradt was ordained in 1784, and took a doctorate in theology at the Sorbonne (1785). His uncle Cardinal de Larochefoucauld made him canon and vicar at Rouen. He represented that diocese in the Estates General (1789). Initially hostile to revolutionary ideas, especially the civil constitution of the clergy, he emigrated in 1792. In I 798 he published the first of his 70 volumes, L'antidote du congrés de Rastadt ou Plan d'un nouvel équilibre en Europe, which revealed the influence of Montesquieu, Raynal, and the Encyclopedists but was still antirevolutionary. After 18 Brumaire, however, his relative General Duroc introduced De Pradt to napoleon Bonaparte. He became the first consul's chaplain, bishop of Poitiers (1805), and archbishop of Mechlin (1808), although the last post was never confirmed by papal bull. De Pradt negotiated with the Spanish Bourbons at Bayonne (1808) and served ineptly as ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw (1812). Estranged thereafter from the emperor, De Pradt helped his friend Talleyrand engineer the Restoration (1814).

After 1815 De Pradt turned to prolific and facile writing on international politics and Church-State relations. In his books, which were widely read in the New World as well as in Europe, he developed liberal themes begun earlier in Les trois âges des colonies (1802). Most influential was his Des colonies et de la révolution actuelle de l'Amérique (1817), which brought him heavy criticism from the Ultra press and the admiration of such Spanish Americans as Rivadavia, Bolívar, and Servando Teresa de mier. In Les quatre concordats (1818) De Pradt, a Gallican, bitterly denounced the political motivations of the papacy in withholding the bulls that destroyed his ambitions at Mechlin. Although not a systematic thinker, he proposed as a solution the clear separation of Church and State. This and other works on clerical problems attracted liberal attention in the infant Spanish-American republics. He wrote steadily until 1837; he died reconciled to the Church.

Bibliography: m. aguirre elorriaga, El Abate de Pradt en la emancipación hispanoamericana, 18001830 (2d ed. Buenos Aires 1946).

[h. m. hamill, jr.]

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