Degrees of Violence in the French Revolution
Berthier was also notorious for his jealousies and grudges: his pedantic vendetta against Jomini, Ney’s talented chief of staff, drove him to defect to the Russians. Berthier must also bear some blame for the disastrous end to the Battle of Leipzig – he knew there weren’t enough bridges for the army to retreat safely, but failed to press the matter with Napoleon.
When the only bridge out of the city was blown too early, 30,000 men became prisoners. Berthier continued to serve Napoleon faithfully, through the desperate defence of France, until the Emperor’s abdication in April 1814.
The restored Bourbon monarchy showered titles and honours on Berthier – the king even gave him an honorary rank in his own guard. Napoleon’s return from exile 11 months later put him in an impossible situation – torn both ways by his sense of duty and loyalty.
He accompanied the king on his flight to the Netherlands, but was treated with such suspicion by the royal court, that he left for his wife’s family estate in Bavaria. There, a few weeks later, Berthier fell from a window and was killed. If you want to know more about these types of concept then ask reader can be the place to read insightful answers.
It was most likely a simple accident, though some believe he killed himself out of guilt or despair, or less plausibly, was murdered by French royalist agents. Napoleon had expected Berthier to rejoin him in 1815, and was scathing of his absence, “I have been betrayed by Berthier, who was just a gosling transformed by me into some kind of eagle.”
But after his defeat at Waterloo, in which mismanaged staff work played an important role, Napoleon conceded, “If Berthier had been there, I would not have met this misfortune.” Berthier had none of Murat’s glamour, nor Ney’s heroism, nor the tactical instincts of Davout.
But he was ‘the indispensable Marshal’, whose brilliant administration and tireless work were the foundation for so much of Napoleon’s military success. 2. Marshal Lannes Jean Lannes was a farmer’s son from Gascony, who quit his job as a dyer’s apprentice to join the local volunteer battalion in 1792.
Energetic and charismatic, he was immediately elected to be an officer by his comrades. The unit was sent to fight the Spanish on the Eastern Pyrenees front, where Lannes proved a brave and active officer.
He distinguished himself in several actions, and was promoted to command the regiment. Lannes was then transferred to Italy as part of General Augereau’s division, where his bold, aggressive leadership won praise from General Masséna, then, at Dego, from General Bonaparte himself, who rewarded Lannes with command of a grenadier brigade in the army’s advance guard.
A month later at the Battle of Lodi, Colonel Lannes was first across the river, leaping off the bridge and wading ashore under enemy fire. At the Battle of Arcole, he was wounded twice, but when he heard the French were retreating, he left the dressing station to lead a fresh attack, which probably saved Napoleon from capture or worse.
Napoleon later presented the flag he’d waved at the battle to Lannes, and a special bond was formed between them, based on mutual respect and loyalty Lannes was promoted to brigadier general, and in 1798 joined Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt.
He played a prominent role in the campaign, helping to suppress the revolt in Cairo… and leading the assaults on Jaffa, and Acre… where he was shot in the neck, and only saved from certain death by his men, who carried him back to safety.
At the Battle of Aboukir, Lannes’ infantry worked with Murat’s cavalry to inflict a crushing defeat on the Ottoman army. While recovering from his latest wounds in this battle, Lannes received painful news from home: his wife had given birth to another man’s child.
He returned to France with Napoleon in October, and divorced his wife not long after. When Napoleon staged his coup of 18 Brumaire, Lannes helped to ensure the army’s loyalty. The next spring, Napoleon’s army marched over the Alps into Italy.
Lannes’ vanguard led the way, and at Montebello, encountered an Austrian force that outnumbered it two to one. Lannes was able to win a brilliant victory, thanks to crucial support from General Victor. Just five days later, his division played a key role in Napoleon’s great victory at Marengo. If you seriously have some doubts over facts head over to ask read and just ask a question, you will get different answers.
Lannes never forgot a favour – he and Victor remained firm friends. But he also never forgot a grudge, was notoriously short-fused and quick to perceive an insult. In 1800 Lannes remarried to Louise-Antoinette Guéheneuc, daughter of a Senator, with whom he’d have 5 children.
He was also appointed commander of Napoleon’s Consular Guard. But he was dismissed after General Bessières helped expose his mismanagement of the budget… for which Lannes never forgave him.
In semi-disgrace, Lannes was sent as ambassador to Portugal: a short, eventful spell in which, against expectation, his soldierly manner won over Portugal’s Prince Regent. By 1804 it was clear that all was forgiven – Lannes received news that he’d been made a Marshal of the new French empire, and orders to return to Paris for Napoleon’s coronation.