Portrait of Berthier, painted in 1808
|Born||20 November 1753|
|Died||1 June 1815 61) (aged|
|Years of service||1764–1815|
|Rank||General of Division|
|Battles/wars|| American Revolutionary War,|
French Revolutionary Wars,
|Awards|| Marshal of the Empire,|
Légion d'honneur (Grand Cross),
Order of Saint Louis (Commander),
Prince of Neuchâtel and Wagram,
Vice-Constable of the Empire,
Named on the Arc de Triomphe
|Relations|| Jean Baptiste Berthier (father),|
César Berthier (brother),
Victor Léopold Berthier (brother),
Joseph-Alexandre Berthier (brother),
Napoléon Alexandre Berthier (son)
Louis-Alexandre Berthier (20 November 1753 – 1 June 1815), 1st Prince of Wagram, Sovereign Prince of Neuchâtel, was a French Marshal and Vice-Constable of the Empire, and Chief of Staff under Napoleon.
Prince of Wagram was a title of French nobility that was granted to Marshal Louis-Alexandre Berthier in 1809. It was created as a victory title by Emperor Napoleon I after the Battle of Wagram. Berthier had previously been granted the title of Sovereign Prince of Neuchâtel in 1806.
The Republic and Canton of Neuchâtel is a French-speaking canton in western Switzerland. In 2007, its population was 169,782, of whom 39,654 were foreigners. The capital is Neuchâtel.
Marshal of the Empire was a civil dignity during the First French Empire. It was created by Sénatus-consulte on 18 May 1804 and to a large extent resurrected the formerly abolished title of Marshal of France. According to the Sénatus-consulte, a Marshal was a grand officer of the Empire, entitled to a high-standing position at the Court and to the presidency of an electoral college.
He was born on 20 November 1753 at Versaillesto Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Baptiste Berthier (1721 – 1804), an officer in the Corps of Topographical Engineers, and his first wife (married in 1746) Marie Françoise L'Huillier de La Serre. He was the eldest of five children, with the three brothers also serving in the French Army, two becoming generals during the Napoleonic Wars.
Jean-Baptiste Berthier (1721–1804) was an officer (Lieutenant-Colonel) in the French Corps of Topographical Engineers during the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI.
The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).
As a boy, he was instructed in the military art by his father, an officer of the Corps de genie (Engineer Corps). At the age of seventeen, he entered the army, serving successively in the staff, the engineers and the Prince of Lambesq's dragoons. In 1780, he went to North America with Rochambeau, and on his return, having attained the rank of colonel, he was employed in various staff posts and in a military mission to Prussia. During the Revolution, as Chief of Staff of the Versailles National Guard, he protected the aunts of Louis XVI from popular violence, and aided their escape (1791).
The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.
Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste, was the last King of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as Citizen Louis Capet during the four months before he was guillotined. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, son and heir apparent of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin of France. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he assumed the title "King of France and Navarre", which he used until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of "King of the French" until the monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792.
In the war of 1792, he was at once made Chief of Staff to Marshal Lückner, and he bore a distinguished part in the Argonne campaign of Dumouriez and Kellermann. He served with great credit in the Vendéan War of 1793–1795, and was in the next year made a general of division and chief of staff (major-général) to the army of Italy, which Bonaparte had recently been appointed to command. He played an important role in the Battle of Rivoli, relieving Barthélemy Joubert when the latter was attacked by the Austrian general Jozsef Alvinczi. His power of work, accuracy and quick comprehension, combined with his long and varied experience and his complete mastery of detail, made him the ideal chief of staff to a great soldier. In this capacity, he was Napoleon's most valued assistant for the rest of his career.
Charles-François du Périer Dumouriez was a French general during the French Revolutionary Wars. He shared the victory at Valmy with General François Christophe Kellermann, but later deserted the Revolutionary Army, and became a royalist intriguer during the reign of Napoleon as well as an adviser to the British government. Dumouriez is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 3.
The War in the Vendée was an uprising in the Vendée region of France during the French Revolution. The Vendée is a coastal region, located immediately south of the Loire River in western France. Initially, the war was similar to the 14th-century Jacquerie peasant uprising, but quickly acquired themes considered by the Jacobin government in Paris to be counter-revolutionary, and Royalist. The uprising headed by the newly formed Catholic and Royal Army was comparable to the Chouannerie, which took place in the area north of the Loire.
The Army of Italy was a field army of the French Army stationed on the Italian border and used for operations in Italy itself. Though it existed in some form in the 16th century through to the present, it is best known for its role during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars.
He accompanied Napoleon throughout the brilliant campaign of 1796, and was left in charge of the army after the Treaty of Campo Formio. He was in this post in 1798 when he entered Italy, invaded the Vatican, organized the Roman Republic, and took the pope Pius VI as prisoner back to Valence (France) where, after a torturous journey under Berthier's supervision, the pope died, dealing a major blow to the Vatican's political power which, however, did not prove as ephemeral as that of the First Empire.
The Treaty of Campo Formio was signed on 18 October 1797 by Napoleon Bonaparte and Count Philipp von Cobenzl as representatives of the French Republic and the Austrian monarchy, respectively. The treaty followed the armistice of Leoben, which had been forced on the Habsburgs by Napoleon's victorious campaign in Italy. It ended the War of the First Coalition and left Great Britain fighting alone against revolutionary France.
The Roman Republic was proclaimed on 15 February 1798 after Louis Alexandre Berthier, a general of Napoleon, had invaded the city of Rome on 10 February. The Roman Republic was a client republic under the French Directory composed of territory conquered from the Papal States. Pope Pius VI was exiled to France and died there in 1799. It immediately took control of the other two former-papal revolutionary administrations, the Tiberina Republic and the Anconine Republic. The Roman Republic was short-lived, as the Papal States were restored in October 1799.
Pope Pius VI, born Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 15 February 1775 to his death in 1799.
After this, he joined his chief in Egypt, serving there until Napoleon's return. He assisted in the coup d'état of 18 Brumaire (9 November 1799), afterwards becoming Minister of War for a time. In the campaign of Marengo, he was the nominal head of the Army of Reserve, but the first consul accompanied the army and Berthier acted in reality, as always, as Chief of Staff to Napoleon.
A coup d'état, also known as a putsch, a golpe, or simply as a coup, means the overthrow of an existing government; typically, this refers to an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator, the military, or a political faction.
The Battle of Marengo was fought on 14 June 1800 between French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte and Austrian forces near the city of Alessandria, in Piedmont, Italy. Near the end of the day, the French overcame Gen. Michael von Melas's surprise attack, driving the Austrians out of Italy and consolidating Napoleon's political position in Paris as First Consul of France in the wake of his coup d’état the previous November.
Lest one think this was a relatively safe job,a contemporary subordinate staff officer, Brossier, reports that at the Battle of Marengo:
The General-in-Chief Berthier gave his orders with the precision of a consummate warrior, and at Marengo maintained the reputation that he so rightly acquired in Italy and in Egypt under the orders of Bonaparte. He himself was hit by a bullet in the arm. Two of his aides-de-camp, Dutaillis and La Borde, had their horses killed.
At the close of the campaign, he was employed in civil and diplomatic business. [ citation needed ]This included a mission to Spain in August 1800, which resulted in the retrocession of Louisiana to France by the Treaty of San Ildefonso, 1 October 1800, and led to the Louisiana Purchase.
When Napoleon deposed King Frederick William III of Prussia from the principality of Neuchâtel, Berthier was appointed its ruler. This lasted until 1814 and also brought him the title of sovereign prince in 1806.
When Napoleon became emperor, Berthier was at once made a Marshal of the Empire. He took part in the campaigns of Austerlitz, Jena and Friedland. He was created Duke (or Prince) of Valangin in 1806, Sovereign Prince of Neuchâtel in the same year, and Vice-Constable of the Empire in 1807.
In 1808, he served in the Peninsular War, and in 1809, he served in the Austrian theatre during the War of the Fifth Coalition, after which he was given the title of Prince of Wagram. He was with Napoleon in Russia in 1812, Germany in 1813, and France in 1814, fulfilling, until the fall of the French Empire, the functions of major-général of the Grande Armée.
Following Napoleon's first abdication, Berthier retired to his 600-acre (2.4 km²) estate, and resumed his hobbies of falconry and sculpture.[ citation needed ] He made peace with Louis XVIII in 1814, and accompanied the king on his solemn entry into Paris. During Napoleon's short exile on Elba, he informed Berthier of his projects. Berthier was much perplexed as to his future course and, being unwilling to commit to Napoleon, fell under the suspicion both of his old leader and of Louis XVIII.
On Napoleon's return to France, Berthier withdrew to Bamberg, where he died a few weeks later on 1 June 1815 in a fall from an upstairs window. The manner of his death is uncertain. According to some accounts, he was assassinated by members of a secret society, while others say that, maddened by the sight of Russian troops marching to invade France, he threw himself from his window and was killed.
The loss of Berthier's skills at Waterloo was keenly felt by Napoleon, as he later stated succinctly:
If Berthier had been there, I would not have met this misfortune.
Berthier was an immensely skilled chief of staff, but he was not a great field commander. When he was in temporary command in 1809, the French army in Bavaria underwent a series of reverses. His merit as a general was completely overshadowed by the genius of his emperor, he is nevertheless renowned for his excellent organising skills and being able to understand and carry out the emperor's directions to the minutest detail.General Paul Thiébault said of him in 1796:
No one could have better suited General Bonaparte, who wanted a man capable of relieving him of all detailed work, to understand him instantly and to foresee what he would need.
In 1796, he fell in love with the Marquise Visconti, who was to be his mistress for the duration of the Empire, despite the Emperor's disapproval. And even when Napoleon forced him to marry a Bavarian princess, the Duchess Maria Elisabeth, in 1808, Berthier made it so that his mistress and wife could get on and live under the same roof, to the Emperor's fury.
On 9 March 1808, Berthier married Duchess Maria Elisabeth in Bavaria (Landshut, 5 May 1784 – Paris, 1 June 1849), only daughter of Duke Wilhelm in Bavaria and Countess Palatine Maria Anna of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld-Rappolstein,the sister of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and relative of the Russian Tsar through the Wittelsbach line on the Bavarian side and Prussian (Mecklenburg) side of her lineage.
They had one son and two daughters :
Berthier is mentioned and/or appears in several of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Brigadier Gerard stories, including How the Brigadier Was Tempted by the Devil (1895) and in Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.
Archduke Charles Louis John Joseph Laurentius of Austria, Duke of Teschen was an Austrian field-marshal, the third son of Emperor Leopold II and his wife, Maria Luisa of Spain. He was also the younger brother of Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor. Despite being epileptic, Charles achieved respect both as a commander and as a reformer of the Austrian army. He was considered one of Napoleon's more formidable opponents.
Eugène Rose de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg was the first child and only son of Alexandre de Beauharnais and Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie, first wife of Napoleon I.
Louis-Gabriel Suchet, Duke of Albufera, was a French Marshal of the Empire and one of the most successful commanders of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
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Étienne Jacques Joseph Alexandre MacDonald, 1st Duke of Taranto was a Marshal of the Empire and military leader during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
The War of the Fifth Coalition was fought in 1809 by a coalition of the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom against Napoleon's French Empire and Bavaria. Major engagements between France and Austria, the main participants, unfolded over much of Central Europe from April to July, with very high casualty rates for both sides. Britain, already involved on the European continent in the ongoing Peninsular War, sent another expedition, the Walcheren Campaign, to the Netherlands in order to relieve the Austrians, although this effort had little impact on the outcome of the conflict. After much campaigning in Bavaria and across the Danube valley, the war ended favourably for the French after the bloody struggle at Wagram in early July.
Henri-Godefroi-Bernard-Alphonse, prince de La Tour d'Auvergne, marquis de Saint-Paulet was a French politician of the Second Empire who twice served as Minister of Foreign Affairs for Emperor Napoleon III.
Joachim Joseph Napoléon Murat, 4th Prince Murat was a Major-General in the French Army and a member of the Bonaparte-Murat family.
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Claude Juste Alexandre Louis Legrand was a French general. He commanded French divisions at several notable battles of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. He rose to senator on 5 April 1813, then Pair de France on 4 June 1814 and chevalier de Saint-Louis on 27 June 1814. He organised the defence of Chalon-sur-Saône in 1814 and died in Paris in 1815 of wounds received beside the River Berezina.
Jean-Toussaint Arrighi de Casanova, duc de Padova, was a French diplomat and soldier of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. In the late 1840s, Arrighi was also involved in politics and was elected Deputy and then Senator in the French Parliament. He was a cousin-in-law of Napoleon I of France.
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Napoléon Alexandre Louis Joseph Berthier, 2nd Prince of Wagram was a French politician and nobleman. Son of Louis-Alexandre Berthier, 1st Prince of Wagram, and Duchess Maria Elisabeth in Bavaria.
Louis Philippe Marie "Alexandre" Berthier, 3rd Prince of Wagram was a French nobleman and prince of Wagram.
Duchess Maria Elisabeth Amalie Franziska in Bavaria was a Duchess in Bavaria as a member of the Palatine Birkenfeld-Gelnhausen line of the House of Wittelsbach and through her marriage to Louis-Alexandre Berthier became Princess of Wagram and Princess of Neuchâtel.
Louis César Gabriel Berthier de Berluy, was a French Napoleonic War general.
Edmond Louis Alexis Dubois-Crancé
| Minister of War |
11 November 1799 – 2 April 1800
| Minister of War |
8 October 1800 – 19 August 1807
Henri Clarke, duc de Feltre
Frederick William III
| Prince of Neuchâtel |
Frederick William III