Born on July 22, 1763 in Dijon, Burgundy, Hugues Bernard Maret became a lawyer in Paris just before the French Revolution, then a diplomat.
After the coup of 18 Brumaire, Maret became General Secretary of Consuls, and shortly afterwards Secretary of State on December 25, 1799. In 1802, he took over from Bourrienne as Chief of Staff of the First consul.
From April 1811 to November 1813, Maret served Napoleon as Minister of Foreign Affairs, then as Chief of Staff once again. He remained faithful to the Emperor during the Hundred-Days, and consequently was forced into exile for several years by King Louis XVIII in July 1815.