King of Naples
Grand Duke of Berg
of the most dashing cavalry commanders in an era of beau sabreurs
was Joachim Murat.
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.
Murat joined Bonaparte in Italy in 1796 fighting at Tagliamento.
the Egyptian campaign he won battlefield
promotion to general of brigade.
handling of the French cavalry at Marengo
won him more honours.
his courage and dash, and the marriage to Caroline
Bonaparte, it was a certainty he'd become a marshal in 1804.
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.
to Spain in 1808, Murat was
partly responsible for the uprising in that country, as his repression
of the Madrid insurrection was harsh.
Spain because of poor health, he was given the kingdom of Naples
and ruled his adopted nation well.
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
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.
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.
defeat of Waterloo forced him
to try to regain his own kingdom, but he was arrested and shot.
to the end he told the firing squad to not aim at the head.