In 1763 peace broke out between France and Britain, ending the Seven Years War. The defeated superpower France was left nursing its wounds, as well as thoughts of revenge. While King Louis XV’s foreign minister sought to maintain the peace, the King’s spy network, ‘the King’s Secret’ (Secret du Roi) developed plans to invade England. These conflicting agendas were embodied in the Chevalier d’Eon, France’s minister in London – Georgian Edward Snowden. Shortly after his arrival the Chevalier began publishing confidential diplomatic despatches and blackmailing his King. The Chevalier escaped assassination and imprisonment by becoming a woman in 1777.
Dr Jonathan Conlin teaches modern British history at the University of Southampton. Currently he is researching a biography of the Anglo-Armenian oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian. His books include Tales of Two Cities: Paris, London and the Making of the Modern City.