Joachim Murat

Marshal Joachim MuratFrench Marshal
King of Naples
Grand Duke of Berg

One of the most dashing cavalry commanders in an era of beau sabreurs was Joachim Murat.

He joined the army as a cavalry trooper at the age of 20 and his first contact with the rising General Napoleon Bonaparte came when he helped suppress the Vendemaire coup attempt.

Promoted, Murat joined Bonaparte in Italy in 1796 fighting at Tagliamento.

During the Egyptian campaign he won battlefield promotion to general of brigade.

His handling of the French cavalry at Marengo won him more honours.

With his courage and dash, and the marriage to Caroline Bonaparte, it was a certainty he'd become a marshal in 1804.

An important part of the French army's command, Murat was the perfect harasser of retreating enemies, but his intervention at Eylau saved the battle for Bonaparte and was arguably the high point of his military career.

Journeying to Spain in 1808, Murat was partly responsible for the uprising in that country, as his repression of the Madrid insurrection was harsh.

Leaving Spain because of poor health, he was given the kingdom of Naples and ruled his adopted nation well.

He returned to serve France during the 1812 campaign in Russia and fought at Ostronovo, Smolensk, Borodino and Vinkovo before taking command of the latter stage of the great retreat from Moscow.

Returning to Naples temporarily, he rejoined Bonaparte for the 1813 Campaign in Germany. Fighting at Dresden, Wachau and Leipzig, he eventually negotiated with the emperor's enemies to save his own throne.

In 1815 he tried to assist Bonaparte during the 100 Days' Campaign by fomenting a revolt in northern Italy, but acted too soon and the attempt failed.

The defeat of Waterloo forced him to try to regain his own kingdom, but he was arrested and shot.

Vain to the end he told the firing squad to not aim at the head.

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