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BIOGRAPHIES

MARMONT, Auguste-Frédéric-Louis Viesse de


‘Il était le plus médiocre des généraux ; je l'ai soutenu, défendu contre tous parce que je lui croyais de l'honneur... il a oublié qu'il doit tous ses honneurs au prestige de cette cocarde nationale qu'il foule aux pieds pour se parer du signe des traîtres qu'il a combattus pendant vingt-cinq ans !', Napoleon on Saint Helena to Las Cases, 1816.

Fact file

Born Châtillon-sur-Seine, 20 July 1774, died Venice, 3 March, 1852.
On leaving Châlons Artillery School, became Officer 1792
Served in Italy and at Toulon where he first met Bonaparte
Fought under Desaix at Mainz as Captain in 1795
One of Bonaparte's Aides de Camp, 3 December 1796
Général de Division, 10 June 1798
For his role in the Brumaire coup d'Etat he was made member of the Conseil d'Etat, 25 December, 1799
Grand aigle of the Légion d'Honneur, 2 February 1805
1805 Commander-in-chief of the 2nd corps of the Grande Armée
Governor General of Dalmatia, 7 July, 1806
Drove the Russians out of Ragusa in 1808 and consequently awarded the title, duc de Raguse, 15 April, 1808
Commander of the 11th corps of the Grande Armée in 1809
Victor at Göspich (20 May) and Znaïm (9 July)
Maréchal 12 July, 1809
Governor of the Illyrian provinces, October 1809
Replaced Ney as commander of the 6th corps of the Armée de Portugal, under Masséna, 9 April 1811
Commander in chief of the Armée de Portugal, in place of Masséna, 7 May, 1811
Invaded Portugal at the end of March 1812
Took Almeida 3 April, 1812, and reached Castel-Branco
Retreated back into Spain, 23 April.
Victor at Tordesillas (18 July), beaten at Arapiles (22 July) was wounded and left army
Fought at Lutzen, Bautzen, Dresden, Leipzig, and Hanau, May to October, 1813
Heavily involved in the Campagne de France, fought with Moncey and Mortier on the outskirts of Paris, capitulating at Belleville, 30 March, 1814
Went over to the Allied side with his corps, 5 April, 1814
Made captain in the 6th company of Louis XVIII's guarde de corps and pair de France, 4 June, 1814
Fled with Louis XVIII to Ghent at the end of the First Restoration, 20 March, 1815
Proscribed by Napoleon, 12 March, 1815 and removed from the list of Maréchaux, 10 April
Ministre d'Etat, 30 November, 1817
Governor of the 1st division militaire in Paris from 29 August, 1821 to 30 July, 1830
Ambassador extraordinary at the coronation of the Tsar Nikolas I, April 1826
During the July Revolution of 1830, when his troops failed to hold Paris for Charles X, he was accused of treachery.
He followed Charles X to Rambouillet and then to England, never to return to France.
He lived in Vienna from 1830 to 1834 where he frequented Metternich and the Duc de Reichstadt to whom he recounted the Napoleonic campaigns.
 
Very much the bête noir of Napoleonic historiography, Marmont was very close to Bonaparte throughout the whole of the Consulate and Empire, fighting in Italy, Egypt, Prussia, Austria, Portugal/Spain and France. Indeed, he was made Général de Division at the age of 26. One of the chosen few who accompanied Bonaparte in his rush back across the Mediterranean returning from Egypt to France, and he played a significant role in the Brumaire coup d'Etat. Son of a royalist officer and an able soldier specialising in artillery, he distinguished himself notably at Marengo. To his deep disappointment, he was not included with the first wave of Maréchaux. After proving his abilities as an administrator in the Illyrian provinces he returned to fight with mixed success both in Spain and France. His remarkable change of sides in 1814 led to his being much feted by Louis XVIII. His subsequent failure during the July Revolution led to his exile but also his fascinating meetings with the Duc de Reichstadt in Vienna. He ended up in Venice where in addition to his gastronomy and his frequentation of the salons he became a cause célèbre not only because of the fact that he lived openly with two women but also because of the vengeful Mémoires which he was writing, the nine volumes of which were published posthumously in Paris, 1856-57.

Further reading

Saint Marc, P., Le maréchal Marmont, duc de Raguse: 1774-1852, Paris: Arthème Fayard, 1957 – with detailed bibliography
Christophe, R., Le Maréchal Marmont: duc de Raguse, [Paris,]: Hachette, 1968

 
     
 
 

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