Tuesday, 19 May 2009

On this date: Eighteen Marshals of the French Empire

On 19 May 1804, the day after he had been elected Emperor of the French by the Senate, Napoléon I appointed eighteen Marshals of the Empire – fourteen active and four honorary. The names of the new marshals were published in the following order:

1. Louis Alexandre Berthier (1753-1815), later Sovereign Prince of Neuchâtel, Duke of Valengin, Prince of Wagram
2. Joachim Murat (1767-1815), later Grand Duke of Berg and Cleves, King of Naples
3. Bon-Adrien Jeannot de Moncey (1754-1842), later Duke of Conegliano
4. Jean Baptiste Jourdan, Count (1762-1833)
5. André Massena (1758-1817), later Duke of Rivoli, Prince of Essling
6. Charles Augereau (1757-1816), later Duke of Castiglione
7. Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte (1763-1844), later Sovereign Prince of Pontecorvo, King of Sweden and Norway
8. Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult (1769-1851), later Duke of Dalmatia
9. Guillaume Marie Brune, Count (1763-1815)
10. Jean Lannes (1769-1809), later Duke of Montebello
11. Edouard Mortier (1768-1835), later Duke of Treviso
12. Michel Ney (1769-1815), later Duke of Elchingen, Prince of the Moskova
13. Louis Nicolas Davout (1770-1823), later Prince of Eckmühl, Duke of Auerstädt
14. Jean Baptiste Bessières (1768-1813), later Duke of Istria
15. François Christophe de Kellermann (1737-1820), later Duke of Valmy
16. François Joseph Lefebvre (1755-1820), later Duke of Danzig
17. Dominique-Cathérine de Pérignon, Marquis (1754-1818)
18. Jean Mathieu Philibert Sérurier, Count (1742-1819)

Later in Napoléon’s reign a further eight marshals were appointed: Victor, Macdonald, Marmont, Oudinot, Suchet, Gouvion-St. Cyr, Poniatowski and Grouchy.
In December 1804 the Marshals took part in the Emperor’s coronation and in the ceremony of the distribution of the eagle standards to the regiments of the Army and the National Guards three days later, both events captured by Jacques-Louis David. The photo above shows a detail of his painting of the latter event, less famous than his coronation painting Le Sacre. Napoléon is surrounded by his Marshals, while Bernadotte looks away. When the painting was completed Bernadotte had left France to become Crown Prince of Sweden and would two years later join forces with Napoléon’s enemies. He was not the only Marshal not to stay loyal to the Emperor. The other photo shows a Marshal of the Empire's baton.

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