If Charles Theveneau de Morande was a character in a novel, he would be considered the ultimate anti-hero. He has variously been described as 'the incarnation of an eighteenth-century rogue', 'a minor prince among blackmailers', and 'a man so cunning that he outwitted Figaro himself.' Morande (1741-1805) was notorious among his contemporaries for successfully blackmailing Louis XV and his mistress Madame Du Barry, and inspiring a veritable extortion industry to develop in London. To historians he is even better known as and archetypical 'Grub Street' hack and the author of the Gazetier cuirasse. However, Morande's historical significance far transcends his success as a blackmailer and scandalous pamphleteer. For, having extorted the monarchy, he turned coat and during the War of American Independence and throughout the 1780s was France's leading political spy in London. In addition, he was a highly successful police agent among his fellow exiles and one of the most influential journalists of his time. Morande's life story is a tale of intrigue, blackmail, espionage, duels, kidnap, murder, politics, conspiracy and crime.
At the same time, it offers a chance to examine some of the most important issues of French history and revolution.
Simon Burrows is Professor of Modern European History at the University of Leeds. He is the author of Blackmail, Scandal, and Revolution: London's French Libellistes, 1758-1792 (MUP), and co-editor of Press, Politics and the Public Sphere in Europe and North America, 1760-1820 (CUP) with Hannah Barker.