Huet, and he was attached to the diplomatic service. After serving in the legations in Switzerland and the Cisalpine republic, he was appointed in 1799 attaché to the French legation at Berlin, of which three years later he became chargé d’affaires. As minister-plenipotentiary at Cassel, between the years 1804 and 1806, he took a prominent share in the formation of the confederation of the Rhine; and after the battle of Jena he returned to Prussia as administrator of the public domains and finances. He filled a similar function in Austria after the battle of Wagram. At the end of 1810 he became French resident at Warsaw and was for a couple of years supreme in the affairs of the grand duchy.
The preparation of a constitution for Poland, on which he was engaged, was, however, interrupted by the events of 1812. Bignon, after a short imprisonment at the hands of the allies, returned to France in time to witness the downfall of Napoleon. During the Hundred Days he once more entered Napoleon’s service, and, after Waterloo, as minister of foreign affairs under the executive commission, it was he who signed the convention of the 3rd of July 1815, by which Paris was handed over to the allies. Bignon did not re-enter public life until 1817, when he was elected to the chamber of deputies, in which he sat until 1830, consistent in his opposition to the reactionary policy of successive governments. His great reputation and his diplomatic experience gave a special weight to the attacks which he published on the policy of the continental allies, two of his works attracting special attention. Du Congrès de Troppau ou Examen des prétentions des monarchies absolues à l’égard de la monarchie constitutionelle de Naples (Paris, 1821), and Les Cabinets el les peuples depuis 1815 jusqu’à la fin de 1822 (Paris, 1822).
The revolution of 1830, which brought his party into power, only led to a very temporary resumption of office by Bignon. He was for a few weeks minister of foreign affairs in the first government of Louis Philippe, and again for a few weeks minister of public instruction. But the idea of making him responsible for the foreign policy of France could not be realized owing to the necessity under which Louis Philippe lay of courting the goodwill of the powers, whom Bignon had offended by his outspoken writings. Elected deputy in 1831 and member of the chamber of peers in 1839, he withdrew for the most part from politics, to devote himself to his great work, the Histoire de France sous Napoléon (10 vols. 1829-1838, then 4 posthumous vols., 1847-1850). This history, while suffering from the limitations of all contemporaneous narratives, contains much that does not exist elsewhere, and is one of the best-known sources for the later histories of Napoleon’s reign.
See Mignet, Notice historique sur la vie et les ouvrages de M. Bignon (1848).
BIGOD, HUGH (d. 1177), earl of Norfolk, was the second son of Roger Bigod (d. 1107), the founder of the English family of this name. Hugh inherited large estates in East Anglia on the death of his brother William in 1120, and enjoyed the favour of Henry I. At first a supporter of Stephen during this king’s struggle with the empress Matilda, Hugh was rewarded with the earldom of Norfolk before 1141. After having fought for the king at the battle of Lincoln the earl deserted him, assumed a position of armed neutrality during the general anarchy, and then assisted Henry II. in his efforts to obtain the throne. This king confirmed him in the possession of his earldom; but becoming restless under the rule of law initiated by Henry, he participated in the revolt of 1173, which so far as England was concerned centred round his possessions. Though defeated and compelled to surrender his castles, Bigod kept his lands and his earldom, and lived at peace with Henry II. until his death, which probably took place in Palestine.
His son Roger (d. 1221), who succeeded to the earldom of Norfolk, was confirmed in his earldom and other honours by Richard I., after he had fallen under the displeasure of Henry II. He took part in the negotiations for the release of Richard from prison, and after the king’s return to England became justiciar. The earl was one of the leaders of the baronial party which obtained John’s assent to Magna Carta, and his name appears among the signatories to this document.
Roger was succeeded as 3rd earl by his son, Hugh, who died in 1225, leaving a son, Roger (d. 1270), who became 4th earl of Norfolk. Through his mother, Matilda, a daughter of William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, Roger obtained the office of marshal of England in 1246. He was prominent among the barons who wrested the control of the government from the hands of Henry III., and assisted Simon de Montfort. The earl married Isabella, daughter of William the Lion, king of Scotland, but left no sons.
Hugh, the 3rd earl, left a younger son, Hugh (d. 1266), who was chief justiciar of England from 1258 to 1260, and who fought for Henry III. at the battle of Lewes. The latter’s son, Roger, succeeded his uncle Roger as 5th earl of Norfolk in 1270. This earl is the hero of a famous altercation with Edward I. in 1297, which arose out of the king’s command that Bigod should serve against the king of France in Gascony, while he went to Flanders. The earl asserted that by the tenure of his lands he was only compelled to serve across the seas in the company of the king himself, whereupon Edward said, “By God, earl, you shall either go or hang,” to which Bigod replied, “By the same oath, O king, I will neither go nor hang.” The earl gained his point, and after Edward had left for France he and Humphrey Bohun, earl of Hereford, prevented the collection of an aid for the war and forced Edward to confirm the charters in this year and again in 1301. Stubbs says Bigod and Bohun “are but degenerate sons of mighty fathers; greater in their opportunities than in their patriotism.” The earl died without issue in December 1306, when his title became extinct, and his estates reverted to the crown. The Bigods held the hereditary office of steward (dapifer) of the royal household, and their chief castle was at Framlingham in Suffolk.
See W. Stubbs, Constitutional History, vols. i. and ii. (1896-1897); J. R. Planche, “The Earls of East Anglia” (Brit. Arch. Ass., vol. xxi., 1865); and G. E. C(okayne), Complete Peerage, vol. vi. (1895).
BIGOT, one obstinately and intolerantly holding particular religious opinions, who refuses to listen to reason and is ready to force others to agree with him; hence also applied to one who holds similar views on any subject. The early meaning of the word in English, at the end of the 16th century, was that of a religious hypocrite. The origin is obscure; it appears in French, in the forms bigot or bigos, in the 12th century romance of Girard of Roussillon, where it is applied to certain tribes of southern Gaul, and in the Roman du Rou of Wace (d. 1175?) as an abusive name given by the French to the Normans:
|“||Moult on Franchois Normans laidis|
|et de meffais et de mesdis.|
|Souvent lor dient reproviers,|
|et claiment Bigos et Draschiers.”|
To this use has been attached the absurd origin from “ne se, bi god,” the words in which, according to the 12th century chronicle, Rollo, duke of the Normans, refused to kiss the foot of Charles III., the Simple, king of the West Franks. The word may have some connexion with a corruption of Visigoth, a suggestion to which the use in the Girard romance lends colour. The meaning changed in French to that of “religious hypocrite” through the application, in the feminine bigote, to the members of the religious sisterhoods called Beguines (q.v.).
BIG RAPIDS, a city and the county-seat of Mecosta county, Michigan, U.S.A., on both sides of the Muskegon river, 56 m. N. by E. of Grand Rapids, in the west central portion of the lower peninsula. Pop. (1890) 5303; (1900) 4686, of whom 881 were foreign-born; (1910, U.S. census) 4519. It is served by the Père Marquette and the Grand Rapids & Indiana railways. Big Rapids is the seat of the Ferris Institute (opened 1884, incorporated 1894), a large private co-educational school, founded by W.N. Ferris. The river, which falls 16 ft. within the city limits, is dammed a short distance south of the city, and 16,000 horse-power is generated, part of which is transmitted to the city. The principal manufactures are lumber and furniture, and saw-filing and filing-room machinery. Big Rapids, named from the falls of the Muskegon here, was settled in 1854, was platted in 1859 and was chartered as a city in 1869.