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Joachim Murat

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Joachim Murat
Portrait by François Gérard, c. 1808
King of Naples
Reign1 August 1808 – 20 May 1815
SuccessorFerdinand IV
Grand Duke of Berg
Reign15 March 1806 – 1 August 1808
SuccessorNapoléon Louis
BornJoachim Murat-Jordy
(1767-03-25)25 March 1767
Labastide-Fortunière, Quercy, Kingdom of France
Died13 October 1815(1815-10-13) (aged 48)
Pizzo Calabro, Calabria, Kingdom of Naples
(m. 1800)
IssueAchille, Letizia, Lucien, Louise
FatherPierre Murat-Jordy
MotherJeanne Loubières
SignatureJoachim Murat's signature
Military career
Years of service1787–1813
RankMarshal of the Empire
Selected battles
About OpenStreetMaps
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Pizzo, Calabria Death on 13 October 1815 Murat is 48 years old
Battle of Tolentino from 2 to 3 May 1815 Murat is 48 years old
Battle of Leipzig from 16 to 19 October 1813 Murat is 46 years old
Battle of Borodino on 7 September 1812 Murat is 45 years old
Dos de Mayo Uprising on 2 May 1808 Murat is 41 years old
Battle of Eylau from 7 to 8 February 1807 Murat is 39 years old
Battle of Jena–Auerstedt on 14 October 1806 Murat is 39 years old
Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December 1805 Murat is 38 years old
Battle of Ulm from 15 to 20 October 1805 Murat is 38 years old
Battle of Marengo on 14 June 1800 Murat is 33 years old
Battle of Abukir (1799) on 25 July 1799 Murat is 32 years old
Battle of Rivoli from 14 to 15 January 1797 Murat is 29 years old
13 Vendémiaire on 5 October 1795 Murat is 28 years old
Labastide-Murat Birth on 25 March 1767

Joachim Murat (/mjʊəˈrɑː/ mure-AH, also /mʊˈrɑːt/ muurr-AHT, French: [ʒɔaʃɛ̃ myʁa]; Italian: Gioacchino Murat; 25 March 1767 – 13 October 1815) was a French military commander and statesman who served during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. Under the French Empire he received the military titles of Marshal of the Empire and Admiral of France. He was the first Prince Murat,[1] Grand Duke of Berg from 1806 to 1808,[2] and King of Naples as Joachim-Napoleon[3] (Italian: Gioacchino Napoleone) from 1808 to 1815.[4][5]

Born in Labastide-Fortunière in south-western France, Murat briefly pursued a vocation in the clergy before enlisting in a cavalry regiment on the outbreak of the French Revolution. Murat distinguished himself under the command of General Napoleon Bonaparte on 13 Vendémiaire (1795), when he seized a group of large cannons and was instrumental in suppressing the royalist insurrection in Paris. He became Napoleon's aide-de-camp and commanded the cavalry during the French campaigns in Italy and Egypt. Murat played a pivotal role in the Coup of 18 Brumaire (1799), which brought Napoleon to political power. In 1800 he married Caroline Bonaparte, thus becoming a brother-in-law to Napoleon.

Murat was named a Marshal of the Empire on the proclamation of the French Empire. He took part in various battles including those of Ulm, Austerlitz, Jena and Eylau, where he led a famous massed cavalry charge against the Russians. In 1806, Murat was appointed Grand Duke of Berg, a title he held until 1808 when he was named King of Naples. He continued to serve Napoleon during his Russian and German campaigns but abandoned the Grande Armée after the Battle of Leipzig to save his throne. In 1815, Murat launched the Neapolitan War against the Austrian Empire but was decisively defeated at Tolentino. He fled to Corsica and then made a last-ditch attempt to recover his throne, but was soon taken prisoner by King Ferdinand IV of Naples. He was tried for treason and sentenced to death by firing squad in Pizzo.

Early life


Murat was born on 25 March 1767 in La Bastide-Fortunière[6] (later renamed Labastide-Murat after him), in Guyenne (the present-day French department of Lot). His father was Pierre Murat-Jordy (1721 – 27 July 1799), an affluent yeoman,[7] innkeeper, postmaster[8] and churchwarden. His mother was Jeanne Loubières (1722 – 11 March 1806), the daughter of Pierre Loubières and his wife Jeanne Viellescazes.[9]

Murat's father, Pierre Murat-Jordy, was the son of Guillaume Murat (1692–1754) and his wife Marguerite Herbeil (d. 1755), the paternal grandson of Pierre Murat (b. 1634) and his wife Catherine Badourès (d. 1697), and the maternal grandson of Bertrand Herbeil and his wife Anne Roques.[9]

Murat's parents intended that he pursue a vocation in the church. He was taught by the parish priest, after which he won a place at the College of Saint-Michel at Cahors when he was ten years old. He then entered the seminary of the Lazarists at Toulouse. When a regiment of cavalry passed through the city in 1787, he ran away and enlisted on 23 February 1787 in the Chasseurs des Ardennes, which the following year became known as the Chasseurs de Champagne, or the 12th Chasseurs. In 1789, an affair forced him to resign, and he returned to his family, becoming a clerk to a haberdasher at Saint-Céré.[8]

French Revolutionary Wars


By 1790, Murat had joined the National Guard. The Canton of Montaucon sent him as its representative to the Fête de la Fédération, the celebration of the first anniversary of Bastille Day (la Fête nationale). He was reinstated in his former regiment. Because part of the 12th Chasseurs had been sent to Montmédy to protect the royal family on its flight to Varennes, the regiment had to defend its honour and loyalty to the Republic. Murat and the regiment's adjutant made a speech to the assembly at Toul to that effect.[8]

In 1792, Murat joined the Constitutional Guard, but left it that same year. His departure was attributed to various causes, including his constant quarreling and dueling, although he claimed he left to avoid punishment for being absent without leave.[8]

An ardent Republican, Murat wrote to his brother in 1791 stating he was preoccupied with revolutionary affairs and would sooner die than cease to be a patriot. Upon his departure from the Constitutional Guard, he reported to the Committee of Surveillance of the Constitutional Assembly that the Guard was guilty of treason and that his lieutenant colonel, a man named Descours, had encouraged him to serve in the émigré army of Louis Joseph, Prince of Condé, then stationed in Koblenz.[8] This garnered for him the support of the Republicans. Murat rejoined his former regiment and was promoted to corporal in April, and in May to sergeant.[8]

By 19 November 1792, Murat was 25 years old and elated at his latest promotion. As a sous-lieutenant, he thought, his family must recognise that he had no great propensity for the priesthood, and he was hoping to prove that he had not been wrong in wishing to be a soldier. Two of the ministers had accused him of being an aristocrat, confusing him with the noble family of Murat d'Auvergne, an accusation that continued to haunt him for the next several years.[10]

13 Vendémiaire


In the autumn of 1795, two years after King Louis XVI had been guillotined, royalists and counter-revolutionaries organised an armed uprising. On 3 October, General Napoleon Bonaparte, who was stationed in Paris, was named commander of the French National Convention's defending forces. Bonaparte tasked Murat, who had offered himself voluntarily, with the gathering of artillery from a suburb outside the control of the government's forces.[11]

Murat managed to take the cannons of the Camp des Sablons and transport them to the centre of Paris while avoiding the rioters.[11] The use of these cannons – the famous "whiff of grapeshot" – on 5 October allowed Bonaparte to save the members of the National Convention.[12] Napoleon’s later report did not mention Murat, but Napoleon did not forget him, as Murat was made a marshal, the "First Horseman of Europe", Grand Duke of Berg and King of Naples.[13]

Italian and Egyptian campaigns

Murat at the Battle of Abukir, painted by Antoine-Jean Gros (1804)

In 1796, Joachim Murat went with Bonaparte to northern Italy, initially as his aide-de-camp,[14] and was later named commander of the cavalry during the many campaigns against the Austrians and their allies.[15]

Murat in hussar uniform as commander of the Consular Guard, by François Gérard (1801)

Murat commanded the cavalry of the French Egyptian expedition of 1798, again under Bonaparte. On 25 July 1799 at the Battle of Abukir, he successfully led the cavalry charge that broke the Ottoman line.[16]

In 1799, some remaining staff officers, including Murat, and Bonaparte returned to France, eluding various British fleets in five frigates. A short while later, Murat played an important, even pivotal, role in Bonaparte's "coup within a coup" of 18 Brumaire (9 November 1799), when he first assumed political power.[17]

Murat married Caroline Bonaparte, with whom he shared the same birthday, in a civil ceremony on 20 January 1800 at Mortefontaine and in a religious ceremony on 4 January 1802 in Paris, thus becoming a son-in-law of Letizia Ramolino as well as brother-in-law to Napoleon Bonaparte, Joseph Bonaparte, Lucien Bonaparte, Elisa Bonaparte, Louis Bonaparte, Pauline Bonaparte and Jérôme Bonaparte.[18]

Napoleonic Wars

Murat leading a cavalry charge at the Battle of Jena, 14 October 1806

Napoleon made Murat a Marshal of the Empire on 18 May 1804, and granted him the title of "First Horseman of Europe". He was made Prince of the Empire and Admiral of the Empire in 1805, despite having very little knowledge about naval warfare. He fought in various battles, during 1805–1807, including those of Ulm, Austerlitz, Jena and Eylau, where he led a famous cavalry charge against the Russians.[17]

Murat as King of Naples, c. 1812

After several territorial concessions made by Prussia, the Grand Duchy of Berg was set up, he was appointed Grand Duke of Berg and Duke of Cleves on 15 March 1806, and held this title until 1 August 1808, when he was named King of Naples. Murat was in charge of the French Army in Madrid when the popular Dos de Mayo Uprising, that started the Peninsular War, broke out.[17]

Murat proved to be equally useful in the Russian campaign of 1812, where he distinguished himself as the best cavalry commander of the Grande Armée at battles such as Smolensk and Borodino.[19]

Although he was a great horseman, Murat showed a total lack of concern for the well-being of the horses. Napoleon had created the greatest forage problem known in military history by putting together a cavalry of 40,000 men and horses. The long marches and the lack of rest meant that the horses suffered from hunger, bad fodder, saddle sores and exhaustion, but these factors were aggravated by Murat himself.[20] He also failed to forge caulkin shoes for the horses to enable them in the retreat to traverse roads that had become iced over. The Polish cavalry and Caulaincourt knew this and acted accordingly.[21]

He continued to serve Napoleon during the German Campaign of 1813. Following Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Leipzig, Murat reached a secret agreement with the Allies in order to save his own throne and switched sides to the Coalition.[22]

Neapolitan War


Following further military defeats, Napoleon abdicated on 6 April 1814.[23] At the Congress of Vienna, Klemens von Metternich, Austria's Foreign Minister, was bound by other coalition allies that wanted to restore Ferdinand IV of the House of Bourbon to the Neapolitan throne,[24] particularly Britain.[25][26]

With his throne no longer secure, following Napoleon's return from exile, Murat switched sides in an unsuccessful attempt to return to Napoleon's favour. On 15 March 1815, the Kingdom of Naples declared war on the Austrian Empire, starting the Neapolitan War.[25][27][28] With an estimated 45,000 troops, the Neapolitan army invaded the Papal States and Tuscany.[24][27][28] Though the Austrian army in northern Italy numbered 94,000 troops, it was widely distributed.[26] On 30 March 1815, Murat's troops arrived in Rimini, where they were hosted by the Battaglini counts.[24] In a final attempt to gain allies, Murat published the Rimini Proclamation, though it may have been backdated after his military defeats.[29][30]

Murat's eastern column advanced northwards from Rimini towards the River Po, entering Bologna on 2 April, while the western column reached Florence on 8 April.[26] On the same day, the eastern column engaged 3,000 Austrian soldiers at the Battle of Occhiobello.[27][29] Following its defeat at Occhiobello, it was pushed southwards, leading to Murat's decisive defeat at the Battle of Tolentino on 2–3 May.[25][29][31] Murat returned to Naples on 18 May, where Caroline had already surrendered to the British, and fled immediately to southern France.[26]



Hearing of Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815,[29] Murat fled to Corsica,[25][27][29] from which he attempted an impossible invasion of Calabria.[25][28][29] Napoleon remarked: "Murat attempted to reconquer with 200 men that territory which he failed to hold when he had 80,000 at his disposal."[24] Murat was captured, sentenced to death,[25][29] and shot by firing squad in Pizzo Calabro on 13 October 1815.[24][25][28][32]

According to the memoirs of Murat's granddaughter:

On being asked if he had any request to make, he said he wished to have a bath prepared for him and perfumed with a bottle of eau-de-Cologne, and, as a last request, that his eyes should not be bandaged. Both wishes were granted, and, by order sent by King Ferdinand, twelve of his own soldiers were selected to shoot him. When the fatal hour came, seeing the emotion of his men, Murat said, "My friends, if you wish to spare me, aim at my heart."[33]

Coats of arms



Caroline Bonaparte and her children

Murat and Caroline had four children:



Murat had a brother named Pierre (La Bastide-Fortunière, 27 November 1748 – La Bastide-Fortunière, 8 October 1792), who married at La Bastide-Fortunière on 26 February 1783 Louise d'Astorg (La Bastide-Fortunière, 23 October 1762 – 31 May 1832), daughter of Aymeric d'Astorg, born in 1721, and wife Marie Alanyou, paternal granddaughter of Antoine d'Astorg, born 18 November 1676, and wife Marie de Mary (4 May 1686 – 7 October 1727) and maternal granddaughter of Jean Alanyou and wife Louise de Valon.

Pierre and Louise were the parents of Marie Louise, Pierre Adrien (d. 1805), Marie Radegonde (d. 1800), Thomas Joachim and Marie Antoinette Murat, whom Emperor Napoleon I arranged to marry Charles, Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen; Karl III and Marie were the parents of Charles Anthony, Prince of Hohenzollern from whom descended Stephanie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Queen of Portugal; her brother Carol I of Romania and her nephew Albert I of Belgium.

Another descendant of note is his great-great-great-grandson, American actor René Auberjonois.

Films and television



  1. ^ Atteridge 1911, Chapter VII.
  2. ^ Atteridge 1911, Chapter IX.
  3. ^ Zamoyski 2018.
  4. ^ Emsley 2014, pp. 59.
  5. ^ Atteridge 1911, Chapter XIII.
  6. ^ Chavanon 1905.
  7. ^ Fisher 1903, p. 174.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Phipps 1926, pp. 146–147.
  9. ^ a b Atteridge 1911, Chapter I.
  10. ^ Phipps 1926, pp. 148–149.
  11. ^ a b Kircheisen 2010, p. 44.
  12. ^ Connelly 2006, pp. 19–21.
  13. ^ Connelly 2006, p. 21.
  14. ^ Atteridge 1911, Chapter II.
  15. ^ Atteridge 1911, Chapter IV.
  16. ^ McLynn 2002, p. 196
  17. ^ a b c Murat 1910, p. 16.
  18. ^ Atteridge 1911, p. 56.
  19. ^ Riehn 1990, pp. 245–248.
  20. ^ Zamoyski 2004, pp. 174–175.
  21. ^ Caulaincourt 1935, p. 155.
  22. ^ Atteridge 1911, Chapter XVI.
  23. ^ "Napoleon I – Defeat, Exile, Abdication". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  24. ^ a b c d e "Il proclama di Rimini" [The Rimini Proclamation]. Il Ponte (in Italian). 6 May 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g Mark, Harrison W. "Joachim Murat". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  26. ^ a b c d Pappas, Dale. "Joachim Murat and the Kingdom of Naples: 1808–1815". The Napoleon Series. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  27. ^ a b c d Sacco, Antonio (30 May 2020). "Unificare l'Italia, il sogno di Murat" [Unifying Italy, Murat's dream]. Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  28. ^ a b c d Melfi, Luigi (28 February 2021). "Agli albori dell'unificazione politica, amministrativa e militare nazionale" [At the dawn of national political, administrative, and military unification]. Istituto del Nastro Azzurro (in Italian). Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g "30 marzo 1815 – Gioacchino Murat firma il Proclama di Rimini (o di Tolentino?)" [30 March 1815 – Joachim Murat signs the Proclamation of Rimini (or of Tolentino?)]. Chiamami Città (in Italian). 29 March 2023. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  30. ^ Camploieti, Giuseppe (1999). Il re lazzarone [The Lazy King] (in Italian). Milan: Mondadori. p. 410. ISBN 88-04-40528-7.
  31. ^ Atteridge 1911, Chapter XVII.
  32. ^ Atteridge 1911, p. 294.
  33. ^ a b Murat 1910, p. 23.



See also


Further reading

Joachim Murat
House of Murat
Born: 25 March 1767 Died: 13 October 1815
Regnal titles
New title Grand Duke of Berg
15 Mar 1806 – 1 Aug 1808
Succeeded by
Preceded by King of Naples
1 Aug 1808 – 19 May 1815
Succeeded by
French nobility
of the First French Empire
New title Prince Murat Succeeded by