‘Masséna avait été un homme très supérieur qui, par un privilège très particulier, ne possédait l'équilibre tant désiré qu'au milieu du feu ; il lui naissait au milieu du danger', Napoleon on Saint Helena to Las Cases.
Born Nice, 6 May, 1758, died Paris, 4 April, 1817 Married Mlle Lamarre Cabin boy 1771 - 1775 Volunteer in the Royal-Italian regiment up to the rank of adjutant sous-officier, retired 1789 Moved to Antibes Soldier in the Var, Adjudant-major in 1789 to Adjudant-général 1792 Served in the Armée d'Italie, 1792-1798
Brigadier general August 1793 Fought with Lapoype at the seige of Toulon,14 December 1793 Commander of the right wing under Dumerbion, 2 January 1794 Confirmed as 'Général de Division' by the Comité de Salut Public, 29 August, 1794 Fought at Melogno, Loano, Montenotte, Dego, Cherasco, Lodi, Lonato, Castiglione, Peschiera, Bassano, Due Castelli, Saint-Georges, Brenta, Caldiero, Arcole, San Michele, Rivoli and La Favorita (for which Bonaparte described him as 'l'enfant chéri de la victoire'); Chiusa, Tarvisio, Neumarkt, Unzmarkt Made commander of the 1st Division on the reorganisation of the Armée d'Italie, 14, June 1797
Nominated to the Armée d'Angleterre, 12 January, 1798 Commander of the troops detailed to occupy the Papal States, 3 February He handed over command to Dallemagne as the result of a mutiny, 23-25 February Recalled by the Directory, 8 March Replaced by Gouvion-Saint-Cyr, see below Appointed Commander of the Armée d'Helvétie, 9 December, 1798 Arrived in Zurich, 11 December and subordinated to Jourdan on the same day and again on 2 March, 1799 Fought at Coire (7 March), Feldkirch (22 March) and appointed provisory Commander in Chief of the combined Armées du Danube et Helvétie in place of Jourdan, taking command in Strasbourg 9 April, 1799 Victor at the Battle of Zurich over the combined Austrian and Russian forces, 25-26 September, 1799, forcing Suvorov who had crossed the St Gothard Pass into a disastrous retreat towards Coire Victor at Andelfingen, 7 October Replaced Championnet as Commander in chief of the Armée d'Italie, 23 November Left the Armée d'Helvétie, established his Headquarters in Nice (17 January 1800) and then went to Genoa. With his line of retreat through the Var cut off by the Austrians, and separated from Suchet and half of his army, he was encircled in Genoa, 5 April, 1800 Heroically endured the siege, the famine and the plague, until capitulation 4 June, ten days before Marengo - he was however allowed to leave Genoa and retire into the Var with full military honours and his troops intact. Made Commander in chief of the combined Armées d'Italie et de la Réserve Stepped down, 21 August and retired to Rueil with a pension of 30.000 francs, 23 September Received a sabre of honour, 6 October Député for the Seine department at the Corps Législatif, 28 July 1803 - 31 December 1807 Maréchal de l'Empire, 19 May 1804 Grand aigle and chef of the 14th cohort of the Légion d'Honneur, 2 February 1805 Replaced Jourdan as Commander in chief of the Armée d'Italie, 30 August 1805 and took command of the Armée de Milan on 6 September Took Verona, 18 October, fought John VI at Caldiero, 30 October Appointed Commander of the 8e corps of the Grande Armée, 11 December Appointed Commander in chief of the Armée de Naples, 28 December and took command in Bologna on 9 January, 1806 Invaded the kingdom of Naples and took Capua, 12 February, 1806 Entered Naples with Joseph Bonaparte, 14 February and became Commander in chief of the Armée de Naples under Joseph, King of Naples, 21 February Set siege to and took Gaeta, 26 February - 19 July Left Naples to rejoin the Grande Armée, 12 January 1807, and took command of the 5e corps of the Grande Armée in place of Lannes, 24 February Given leave of absence on health grounds, 15 July 1807, he returned to Rueil Duc de Rivoli, 24 April, 1808 Commander of the Armée d'observation de l'armée du Rhin (subsequently, the 4e corps de l'Armée d'Allemagne), 23 February 1809 Distinguished himself at Landshut (11 April), Eckmühl (22 April), Straubing (23 April), Passau (26 April), and Ebersberg (3 May) Glorious role at the Battle of Essling, defending Aspern and covering the retreat, 22 May Commanded the left wing of the army at the Battle of Wagram, 4-6 July Received the full Austrian attack, 6 July Came to the aid of Marmont at Znaïm, 11 July Authorised to return to France - made Prince d'Essling, 31 January, 1810 Made commander of the Armée de Portugal, 17 April, arriving in Valladolid to take up his post, 10 May Took Ciudad-Rodrigo 10 July and Almeida 28 August Beaten by Wellington at Busaco, 27 September Drove the English back behind the line of Torrès-Vedras, but unable to enforce the blockade, October 1810 to March 1811 Beat a retreat to the French border, 6 March 1811 Fought the inconclusive Battle of Fuentes de Onoro, 3 and 5, 1811 Removed from office by the Emperor, recalled to France and replaced by Marmont, 7 May, 1811 Governor of the 8e Division militaire de Toulon, 16 April, 1813 Did not make active attempts to stop Napoleon on his ‘vol de l'aigle' at the beginning of the ‘Hundred Days'
Made Pair de France, 2 June, 1815 Commander in chief of the Garde Nationale Parisienne, 22 June - 8 July, 1815 Governor of Paris, 3 July, 1815 - replaced on the return of the Bourbons Died in 1817 Buried with full military honours in Père-Lachaise cemetery, his name appears on the Arc de Triomphe
Marshall-Cornwall, J., Marshal Massena, London; New York: Oxford University Press, 1965 (translated as Masséna - L'enfant chéri de la Victoire, Paris: Plon, 1967) Horward, D. D., The Battle of Busaco, Massena vs. Wellington, Tallahassee: Florida State University, 1965