(1769-1809), Duc de Montebello, Maréchal de France, ‘le Rolande de l'armée'
‘L'un des militaires les plus distingués qu'a eus la France! Chez Lannes, le courage l'emportait d'abord sur l'esprit, mais l'esprit montait chaque jour pour se mettre en équilibre. Je l'avais pris pygmée, je l'ai perdu géant... Un des hommes au monde sur lesquels je pouvais le plus compter', Napoleon on Saint Helena to Las Cases, 1816.
Born Lectoure (Gers), 10 April, 1769, died Eberdorff (Austria), 31 May 1809. Volunteer in 2e bataillon de Gers, 1792 Armée des Pyrénées-Orientales, 1793-95 Wounded in the arm, Banyuls Commanded the avant-garde of the Brigade Laterrade at the taking of the camp at Villalonga, 19 December, 1793 Chef de brigade de grenadiers in the same battalion, 25 December, 1793 Passed over to the Armée d'Italie, fighting at Loano (24 November, 1795), Voltri (9 April), Millesimo (14 April), Dego (15 April), Fombio (8 May), Lodi (10 May), Pavia and Binasco (where he set fire to the village, 26 May), Saint-Georges (4 June), Arquata and Livorno (20 June), Bassano (8 September), Due Castelli (14 September), Governolo (15 September), Arcole (15 November), Lodi (13 December), Senio (3 February), Ancona (9 February) Attached to the Armée d'Angleterre, 12 January, 1798, fighting at Malta (10 June), the taking of Alexandria and Rosetta (26 July), put down the Cairo revolt (21 October) Commanded a division in the Armée de Syrie, fighting at El-Arysch (20 February), Jaffa (7 March), wounded in the head in the attack on St Jean d'Acre (8 May), Aboukir (wounded in the leg at the siege of the fort, 27 July) Left for France with Bonaparte, 22 August, 1799 Disembarked with him at Saint-Raphaël, 9 October Took part in the coup d'Etat of 18 Brumaire by commanding headquarters at the Tuileries, 9 November Commandant extraordinaire of the 9e and 10e divisions militaries, 12 November to 27 December Commandant and Inspecteur général of the Garde Consulaire, 16 April, 1800 Commandant of the Avant-Garde of the Armée de Réserve, 10 May, 1800 Crossed the Great St Bernard Pass and took Aosta, 16 May Fought at Châtillon (18 May), Chiusella (26 May), Pavia (2 June), Montebello (9 June), Marengo (he withstood the Austrian attack for 7 hours, for which he received from Bonaparte a 'sabre d'honneur', 14 June) Plenipotentiary minister and sent to Portugal, 14 November, 1802 Returned to France after trade difficulties to become Commandant of the Camp d'Ambleteuse, 4 July, 1803 Maréchal d'Empire, 19 May, 1804 Chef of the 9e cohort of the Légion d'Honneur Grand croix du Christ de Portugal, 1805 Grand Aigle of the Légion d'Honneur, 2 February, 1805 Commandant of the Avant-garde of the 5e corps of the Grande Armée, 23 August, 1805 Fought at Weringen (8 October), Ulm, Braunau (30 October), Hollabrunn (16 November) Commanded the left wing at Austerlitz, 2 December, 1805 Commandeur of the Couronne de Fer, 25 February, 1806 Commandant of the 5e corps of the Grande Armée Fought at Saalfeld (10 October), commanded the centre at Iéna (14 October), victor at Pultusk (26 December 1806, slightly wounded) Left his command on health grounds, January 1807 Grand croix of the order of Saint-Henri de Saxe Commandant of the Corps de Réserve of the Grande Armée, 5 May to 12 July, 1807 Fought at Danzig (20 May), Heilsberg (10 June), commanded the centre at Friedland, 14 June, 1807 Colonel general of the Suisses, 13 September, 1807 Chevalier of the order of Saint-André de Russie, 1808 Duc de Montebello, 15 June 1808 At headquarters in the Armée de l'Espagne, October 1808 Led the 3e corps to victory over Castanos at Tudela, 23 November, 1808 Following a fall from his horse, he stood down as commander and returned to headquarters, 2 December, 1808 Commanded the siege of Saragossa, which capitulated 21 February, 1809 Called to serve in the Armée d'Allemagne, reaching headquarters on 19 April, 1809 Fought at Landshut (21 April), Eckmühl (22 April), Ratisbon (23 April) Took command of the 2e corps of the Armée d'Allemagne, 24 April, 1809 Fought at the siege of Vienna (11 May) and Essling (21 May) where he died from his wounds and the ensuing amputation Buried in the Pantheon
A mere volunteer who became a soldier of extraordinary bravery and sang-froid, literally covered in scars, Lannes was a key figure in Napoleon's military success. Very much down-to-earth (in Italy when offered the Pope's hand to kiss, he firmly shook it). Lannes was reached his zenith of popularity (particularly amongst his men) in April 1800 was he was appointed Inspecteur general of the Garde Consulaire. But his friendship with Bonaparte was not however without its ups and downs – his popularity was seen by Bonaparte as a challenge and his obstinate use of ‘tu' to the Premier Consul at a time when Napoleon wished to distance himself led to his exile by promotion to the post of Plenipotentiary in Portugal. He was very successful as a commandant in the Grande Armée and his death at Essling was deeply felt by Napoleon and the Grande Armée.
Thoumas, Le Maréchal Lannes, Paris: Calmann Lévy, 1891 Zins, R., Le Marechal Lannes: favori de Napoléon, Entremont le Vieux: Le Temps Traversé: Editions Curandera, 1994