Malet coup of 1812

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Malet coup of 1812
De Malet fusille en 1812.jpg
Execution of Malet
Date23 October 1812
LocationParis, France
Participants Claude François de Malet
the Duke of Rovigo
Henri Clarke
Pierre-Augustin Hulin
Pierre Doucet  [ fr ]
OutcomeSuppression of the coup

The Malet coup of 1812 was an attempted coup d'état in Paris, France, aimed at removing Napoleon I, then campaigning in Russia, from power. [1] The coup was engineered by Republican general Claude François de Malet, who had spent time in prison because of his opposition to Napoleon. The coup failed, and the leading conspirators were executed.

Coup détat Sudden deposition of a government

A coup d'état, also known by its German name putsch, or simply as a coup, is the overthrow of an existing government by non-democratic means; typically, it is an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator, the military, or a political faction.

French invasion of Russia Napoleon Bonapartes attempted conquest of the Russian Empire

The French invasion of Russia, known in Russia as the Patriotic War of 1812 and in France as the Russian campaign, began on 24 June 1812 when Napoleon's Grande Armée crossed the Neman River in an attempt to engage and defeat the Russian Army. Napoleon hoped to compel the Emperor of All Russia, Alexander I, to cease trading with British merchants through proxies in an effort to pressure the United Kingdom to sue for peace. The official political aim of the campaign was to liberate Poland from the threat of Russia. Napoleon named the campaign the Second Polish War to gain favor with the Poles and to provide a political pretext for his actions.

Claude François de Malet French general

Claude François de Malet was born in Dole to an aristocratic family. He was executed by firing squad, six days after staging a failed republican coup d'état as Napoleon I returned from the disastrous Russian campaign in 1812.


The Malet conspiracy

Claude François de Malet was born in 1754, distinguishing himself [2] in the French Revolutionary Wars and slowly becoming disenchanted with Napoleon Bonaparte, opposing the Corsican general's rise to the position of First Consul. Malet, by 1804 a brigadier general, resigned his commission after Napoleon was crowned Emperor of the French.[ citation needed ]

French Revolutionary Wars series of conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European monarchies from 1792 to 1802

The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.

Brigadier general or brigade general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000 troops. In some countries a brigadier general is informally designated as a one-star general (OF-6).

Emperor of the French title used by the House of Bonaparte

Emperor of the French was the monarch of the First French Empire and the Second French Empire.

After his resignation, Malet was made governor of Pavia, then of Rome, both of which were under French control. After Napoleon's stepson, Viceroy of Italy Eugène de Beauharnais, accused Malet of conspiring against Napoleon, [2] the governor was removed from his position and incarcerated in France. In 1812, Malet was allowed [3] to retire to a sanatorium, upon the request [3] of his wife.

Pavia Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Pavia is a town and comune of south-western Lombardy in northern Italy, 35 kilometres south of Milan on the lower Ticino river near its confluence with the Po. It has a population of c. 73,086,. The city was the capital of the Kingdom of the Lombards from 572 to 774.

Eugène de Beauharnais French Prince, Prince of Venice, Grand Duke of Frankfurt, Duke of Leuchtenberg, Prince of Eichstätt

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.

While at the sanatorium, Malet met [2] with several agents of the House of Bourbon, who were working to replace the First Empire with a restored monarchy. Despite these connections, Malet appears to have had strong republican, rather than royalist, leanings. At the sanatorium he began to plan a coup which would topple the emperor.[ citation needed ] Napoleon was absent from France in 1812, [4] commanding his troops in the invasion of Russia, providing Malet with an ideal opportunity to strike. With several others, he crafted detailed plans for a seizure of power, which was scheduled for late October. Malet and his co-conspirators even planned a provisional government, to be installed after the coup. Lazare Carnot was to be part of this government, serving as interim president.[ citation needed ]

House of Bourbon European royal house of French origin

The House of Bourbon is a European royal house of French origin, a branch of the Capetian dynasty, the royal House of France. Bourbon kings first ruled France and Navarre in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma. Spain and Luxembourg currently have monarchs of the House of Bourbon.

First French Empire Empire of Napoleon I of France between 1804–1815

The First French Empire, officially the French Empire, was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Although France had already established an overseas colonial empire beginning in the 17th century, the French state had remained a kingdom under the Bourbons and a republic after the Revolution. Historians refer to Napoleon's regime as the First Empire to distinguish it from the restorationist Second Empire (1852–1870) ruled by his nephew as Napoleon III.

Kingdom of France kingdom in Western Europe from 843 to 1791

The Kingdom of France was a medieval and early modern monarchy in Western Europe. It was among the most powerful states in Europe and a great power since the Late Middle Ages and the Hundred Years' War. It was also an early colonial power, with possessions around the world.

Coup d'état

Seizure of power in Paris

At 4 a.m. on 23 October 1812, Malet escaped from his captivity, donning a general's uniform. He approached Colonel Gabriel Soulier, who commanded the 10th Cohort of the French National Guard, informing the colonel that Napoleon had died while in Russia. Several forged documents convinced Soulier of the accuracy of Malet's claims, and the colonel, ill [1] and stunned by his own "promotion" to general, which was among the forged papers, obeyed Malet when told to assemble the cohort. Soulier did not question Malet, even when the latter announced his intention to arrest several top officials, and the cohort followed its commander's example and submitted to the recent prisoner, following him to La Force Prison.[ citation needed ]

La Force Prison

La Force Prison was a French prison located in the Rue du Roi de Sicile, in what is now the 4th arrondissement of Paris. Originally known as the Hôtel de la Force, the buildings formed the private residence of Henri-Jacques Nompar de Caumont, duc de la Force. Towards the end of the reign of Louis XIV, the Hôtel de la Force was divided into two parts, one of which took the name of the Hôtel de Brienne, and had its entrance in the Rue Pavée; the other retained its former name and had its entrance in the Rue du Roi de Sicile.

At La Force, Malet ordered the release of two imprisoned generals, Victor Lahorie and Maximilian-Joseph Guidal. The guards obeyed him, and the generals, republicans like Malet, [5] were convinced to join the coup. Malet sent Lahorie to arrest the Duke of Rovigo, the Minister of Police, while Guidal, with a company of National Guards, was to seize General Henri Clarke (Duke of Feltre), the Minister of War, and Archchancellor Cambacérès (Duke of Parma). Guidal, an enemy [1] of Rovigo, insisted that he be allowed to accompany Lahorie. The two generals awoke Rovigo and placed him in La Force, neglecting to arrest the other two officials.[ citation needed ]

Victor Claude Alexandre Fanneau de Lahorie was a French general, conspirator against Napoleon, and godfather of Victor Hugo.

Emmanuel Maximilien-Joseph Guidal General known for his role in the Malet coup of 1812

Emmanuel Maximilien-Joseph Guidal was a French general known for his role in the Malet Conspiracy which was aimed at toppling Napoleon I, who was away from Paris when the events of it occurred.

Anne Jean Marie René Savary French general

Anne Jean Marie René Savary, 1st Duke of Rovigo was a French general and diplomat.

Other senior officials, such as the Paris prefect of police Étienne-Denis Pasquier, were arrested, and Lahorie was given the position of Minister of General Police. As this occurred, Malet confronted General Pierre-Augustin Hulin, the commander of the Paris garrison, in the latter's home. The general listened to the conspirator, who informed him that he (Hulin) had been relieved of his garrison command and that he was to turn over the seal of the 1st Division, which was located in Paris. Hulin demanded to see the official papers that would authorize such actions, whereupon Malet shot him in the jaw. [1]

Suppression of the coup

Malet then proceeded to the military headquarters opposite Hulin's home. There, he met with the senior officer on duty there, Colonel Pierre Doucet  [ fr ]. Doucet was suspicious, however, because the letters presented to him that referenced Napoleon's death stated that the Emperor had died on 7 October. [1] Doucet had knowledge of letters written by Napoleon that had been sent after that date. The colonel also recognized Malet as a sanatorium inmate, and, once he was alone in his office with the general, overpowered him. [5] Malet was placed under arrest, while Doucet ordered the National Guard's 10th Cohort to return to its barracks. He then released Rovigo and other officials imprisoned by the conspirators, and informed the Minister of War, Clarke, of these developments.[ citation needed ]

Clarke, whose ministry was experiencing strained relations with that of Rovigo, sent a detachment of the Imperial Guard to protect the Ministry of Police and set about restoring order to Paris and, at the same time, making an effort to portray Rovigo as incompetent. [1] One of Clarke's first actions was to inform Archchancellor Cambacérès of the coup, urging the man to bring Empress Marie-Louise and Napoleon's heir, the infant King of Rome, to Saint-Cloud. [1]


Malet, Lahorie, and Guidal were tried before a council of war and were executed by firing squad on 29 October. Others, including Colonel Soulier, who had been tricked into enabling the coup, were shot on 31 October. Colonel Jean François Rabbe  [ fr ], commander of the Paris Guard, which too was fooled into supporting the conspirators, was spared execution. [1] The 10th Cohort was sent to Bremen, and Minister of War Clarke began to investigate [1] all general officers present in Paris on 23 October, suspending from service those who he thought had acted in a way that showed support for Malet. Napoleon, rushing back to Paris from Russia, did not punish Rovigoto the disappointment of his rival, Clarke. Clarke had been spoken poorly of by Napoleon, who wondered why after hearing of his supposed death, the minister did not proclaim Napoleon II as the new Emperor. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Everett Dague (December 1992). "Henri Clarke, Minister of War, and the Malet Conspiracy". Napoleonic Scholarship: The Journal of the International Napoleonic Society.
  2. 1 2 3 Ripley, George (1875). The American Cyclopaedia: A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge. p. 64.
  3. 1 2 Arnold, Eric Anderson, ed. (1996). A documentary survey of Napoleonic France. Arnold, transl. by Eric A. Lanham: Univ. Pr. of America. p. 102. ISBN   0-7618-0059-X.
  4. "Napoleon's Invasion of Russia".
  5. 1 2 "General Claude-Francois Malet (1754-1812)". 5 December 2007.