|Comte Alexandre-Florian-Joseph Colonna Walewski, the illegitimate son of Napoleon I and Maria, Countess Walewska, was a statesman and diplomat during the Second Empire.
Born near Warsaw on 4 May 1810, at fourteen Walewski refused to enter the Russian army and escaped to London; from there he proceeded to Paris, where the French government rejected the application by the Russian authorities for his extradition. In 1830 Louis-Philippe sent him to Poland, where the leaders of the Polish revolution entrusted him with a mission to London. After the fall of Warsaw, he took out letters of naturalization in France and joined the French army, seeing some service in Algeria. In 1837 he resigned his commission and began to write for the stage and for the press. He is said to have collaborated with the elder Dumas on Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle, and a comedy of his, L'école du monde, was produced at the Théâtre Français. In 1840 he was sent by Thiers on a mission to Egypt, and under the Guizot ministry he was sent to Buenos Aires to co-operate with the British minister, Lord Howden.
The accession of Louis-Napoleon to supreme power in France guaranteed his career. He was sent as envoy extraordinary to Florence, to Naples and then to London, where he announced the coup d'état to Palmerston. In 1855 Walewski succeeded Edmond Drouyn de Lhuys as minister of foreign affairs, and acted as French plenipotentiary at the Congress of Paris the following year. When he left the Foreign Office in 1860 it was to become minister of state, an office he held until 1863. A senator from 1855 to 1865, he entered the Corps Legislatif in 1865, and was installed, by the emperor's interest, as president of the Chamber. A revolt against his authority two years later sent him back to the Senate. In 1866 he was created a duke. He died at Strasbourg on the 27 October 1868.
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