Montgelas, Maximilian Josef Garnerin, Count Von
MONTGELAS, MAXIMILIAN JOSEF GARNERIN, COUNT VON (1759-1838), Bavarian statesman, came of a noble family in Savoy. His father John Sigmund Garnerin, Baron Montgelas, entered the military service of Maximilian Joseph III., elector of Bavaria, and married the countess Ursula von Trauner. Maximilian Josef, their eldest son, was born on the loth of September 1759. He was educated successively at Nancy, Strassburg and Ingolstadt. Being a Savoyard on his father's side, he naturally felt the French influence, which was then strong in Germany, with peculiar force. To the end of his life he spoke and wrote French more correctly and with more ease than German. In 1779 he entered the public service in the department of the censorship of books. The elector Charles Theodore, who had at first favoured him, became offended on discovering that he was associated with the Illuminati, the supports of the anti-clerical movement called the Aufkldrung. Montgelas therefore went to Zweibriicken, where he was helped by his brother Illuminati to find employment at the court of the duke, the head of a blanch of the Wittelsbach familj . From this refuge also he was driven by orthodox enemies of the Illuminati. The brother of the duke of Zweibriicken Maximilian Joseph took him into his service as private secretary. When his employer succeeded to the duchy Montgelas was named minister, and in that capacity he attended the conference of Rastadt in 1798, where the reconstruction of Germany, which was the consequence of the French Revolution, wa? in full swing. In 1799 the duke of Zweibriicken succeeded to the electorate of Bavaria, and he kept Montgelas as his most trusted adviser. Montgelas was the inspirer and director of the policy by which the electorate of Bavaria was turned into a kingdom, and was very much increased in size by the annexation of church lands, free towns and small lordships. As this end was achieved by undeviating servility to Napoleon, and the most cynical disregard of the rights of Bavaria's German neighbours, Montgelas became the type of an unpatriotic politician in the eyes of all Germans who revolted against the supremacy of France. From his own conduct and his written defence of his policy it is clear that such sentiments as theirs appeared to be merely childish to Montgelas. He was a thorough politician of the 1zz 8th-century type, who saw and attempted to see nothing except that Bavaria had always been threatened by the house of Habsburg, had been supported by Prussia for purely selfish reasons, and could look for useful support against these two only from France, who had selfish reasons of her own for wishing to counterbalance the power both of Austria and Prussia in Germany. As late as 1813, when Napoleon's power was visibly breaking down, and Montgelas knew the internal weakness of his empire well from visits to Paris, he still continued to maintain that France was necessary to Bavaria. The decision of the king to turn against Napoleon in 1814 was taken under the influence of his son and of Marshal Wrede rather than of Montgelas, though the minister would not have been influenced by any feeling of sentimentality to adhere to an ally who had ceased to be useful. In internal affairs Montgelas carried out a policy of secularization and of administrative centralization often by brutal means, which showed that he had never wholly renounced his opinions of the time of the Enlightenment movement. His enemies persuaded the king to dismiss him in 1817, and he spent the remainder of his life in retirement till his death in 1838. He had married the countess von Arco in 1803, and had eight children; in 1809 he was made a count.
See Denkwurdigkeiten des bayr. Staatsministers Maximilian Graf von Montgelas, a German version of the French original, ed. by Ludwig Graf v. Montgelas (Stuttgart, 1887); Briefe des Stadtsministers Graf en Montgelas, ed. by Julie von Zerzog (Regensburg, 1853); Dumoulin Eckart, Bayern unter dem Ministerium Montgelas (Munich, 1894).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)