MARET, HUGUES-BERNARD, Duc DE BASSANO (1763 1839), French statesman and publicist, was born at Dijon. After receiving a sound education, he entered the legal profession and became advocate at the King's Council at Paris. The interest aroused by the debates of the first National Assembly suggested to him the idea of publishing them, conjointly with Mejean, in the Bulletin de l'Assemblee. The publicist Charles Joseph Panc koucke (1736-1798), owner of the Mercure de France and pub lisher of the famous Encyclopedie (1781), persuaded him to merge this in a larger paper, the Moniteur universel, which gained a wide repute for correctness and impartiality. He was a member of the moderate club, the Feuillants; but after the overthrow of the monarchy on Aug. Io, 1792 he accepted an office in the ministry of foreign affairs, where he sometimes exercised a steadying in fluence. On the withdrawal of the British legation from Paris Maret went on a mission to London, where he had a favourable interview with Pitt on Dec. 2, 1792. All hope of an accommoda tion was, however, in vain. After the execution of Louis XVI. (Jan. 21, 1793), the chief French diplomatic agent, Chauvelin, was ordered to leave England, while the French Convention de clared war (Feb. 1, 1793). These events precluded the possibility of success attending a second mission of Maret to London in January. He was sent to Naples as ambassador of the French Republic ; but he was captured by the Austrians, and was only released in 1795 when the duchess of Angouleme was set free. Maret took part in the negotiations with Great Britain at Lille during the summer of 1797, until the coup d'etat of Fructidor frustrated any peace. On the return of Bonaparte from Egypt in 1799 Maret joined the general's party which came to power with the coup d'etat of Brumaire (Nov. 9-10, 1799).
Maret now became one of the First Consul's secretaries and shortly afterwards secretary of state. The Moniteur, which be came the official journal of the state in 1800, was placed under his control. In 1804 he became minister; in 1807 he was named
count, and in 1809 he received the title of duc de Bassano. His personal devotion to the emperor was of that absolute unwaver ing kind which Napoleon highly valued. Maret accompanied Napoleon through most of his campaigns, including that of 1809; and in the spring of 1811 he replaced Champagny, duc de Cadore, as minister of Foreign Affairs. In this capacity he concluded the treaties between France and Austria and France and Prussia, which preceded the French invasion of Russia in 1812. He was with Napoleon through the greater part of that campaign ; and after its disastrous conclusion helped to prepare the new forces with which Napoleon waged the equally disastrous campaign 1813. But in November 1813 Napoleon replaced him by court, duc de Vicence.
Maret, however, as private secretary of the emperor, remained with his master through the campaign of 1814, as also during that of 1815. After the second restoration of the Bourbons he was exiled, and retired to Gratz where he occupied himself with literary work. In 1820 he was allowed to return to France, and after the Revolution of 1830, Louis Philippe, king of the French, made him a peer of France ; he also held two high offices for a few days. He died at Paris in 1839. He shares with Daru the honour of being the hardest worker and most devoted supported in Napoleon's service; but it has generally been considered that he carried devotion to the length of servility, and thus often com promised the real interests of France. This view has been con tested by Baron Ernouf in his work Maret, duc de Bassano, which is the best biography.