Jean-Baptiste Bessieres

Marshal Jean-Baptiste BessieresFrench Marshal
Duc de Istrie

One of the few marshals to be called a friend of Napoleon Bonaparte, Jean-Baptiste Bessieres was a distinguished soldier whose career included fighting with the Swiss Guard to save Louis XVI.

Joining the revolutionary armies, Bessieres skills brought him to Bonaparte's attention and, after fighting at Rivoli, he became a major.

Accompanying Bonaparte on the Egyptian Campaign, Bessieres took part in the battles of Acre and Aboukir.

His performance at Marengo in 1800 saw him a general of brigade and by 1802 he was leading a division.

In 1804, he became a marshal and led the Imperial Guard cavalry at Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau and Friedland.

Sent to Spain he won the battle of Medina del Rio Seco, fought at Somosierra and chased Sir John Moore's army to Corunna.

In 1809, his cavalry performed very well at Aspern-Essling and Wagram and, in Russia, he saved Bonaparte from cossacks during the disastrous retreat in 1812.

Bessieres' last battle was Weissenfels, in 1813, where he died instantly after being hit in the chest by a cannonball.

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