Michel Ney : biography
Michel Ney (), 1st Duc d'Elchingen, 1st Prince de la Moskowa (10 January 1769 – 7 December 1815), popularly known as Marshal Ney, was a French soldier and military commander during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original 18 Marshals of France created by Napoleon. He was known as Le Rougeaud ("red faced" or "ruddy"Raymond Horricks 'Marshal Ney, The Romance And The Real' (ISBN 0882546554)) by his men and nicknamed le Brave des Braves ("the bravest of the brave") by Napoleon.
Ney married Aglaé Louise Auguié (Paris, 24 March 1782 – Paris, 1 July 1854) at Grignon on 5 August 1802. Aglaé was the daughter of Pierre César Auguié (1738–1815) and Adélaïde Henriette Genet (1758–1794). Her paternal grandparents were Pierre César Auguié (1708–1776) and Marie Guary (1709–1788); her maternal grandparents were Edmé Jacques Genet (1726–1781) and Marie Anne Louise Cardon who were the parents of Edmond-Charles Genêt and Jeanne-Louise-Henriette Campan
Ney and his wife had four sons:
- Joseph Napoléon, 2nd Prince de La Moskowa (Paris, 8 May 1803–Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 25 July 1857). Married Albine Laffitte (Paris, 12 May 1805-Paris, 18 July 1881) in Paris on 26 January 1828, by whom he had issue. The male line of his descendants is now extinct. Joseph also had a bastard son who was married without issue.
- Michel Louis Félix, recognized as 2nd Duc d'Elchingen 1826 (Paris, 24 August 1804–Gallipoli, during the Crimean War, 14 July 1854). He married Marie-Joséphine Souham (Luberzac, 20 December 1801–Versailles, 1 July 1889) in Paris on 19 January 1833, by whom he had issue, with the male line becoming extinct in 1969.
- Eugène Michel (Paris, 12 July 1806-Paris, 25 October 1845), who died unmarried and without issue.
- Edgar Napoléon Henry, recognized as 3rd Prince de La Moskowa 1857 (Paris, 12 April 1812-Paris, 4 October 1882), who married Clotilde de La Rochelambert (Saint-Cloud, 27 July 1829-Paris, 24 July 1867) in Paris on 16 January 1869, but died without issue; the title of Prince de la Moskowa then reverted to Michel's issue.
Ney has been portrayed by a number of actors throughout the years.
- By Dan O'Herlihy in Waterloo from 1970 and Carl de Vogt in Waterloo from 1929.
- By Colin Bean in the episode A Soldier's Farewell of the British sitcom Dad's Army.
- By Alain Doutey in the miniseries Napoléon
- By Russian actor Aleksandr Stepanov in the Russian propaganda film Kutuzov from 1944.
- By John Baker in the British series War and Peace
Marshal Ney's gravesite in [[Père Lachaise Cemetery.]] When Napoleon was defeated, dethroned, and exiled for the second time in the summer of 1815, Ney was arrested (on 3 August 1815), and tried (4 December 1815) for treason by the Chamber of Peers. On 6 December 1815 he was condemned, and executed by firing squad in Paris near the Luxembourg Garden on 7 December 1815 – an event that deeply divided the French public. He refused to wear a blindfold and was allowed the right to give the order to fire, reportedly saying:
"Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her ... Soldiers, Fire!"Tsouras., p.245.
Ney's execution was an example intended for Napoleon's other marshals and generals, many of whom were eventually exonerated by the Bourbon monarchy. Ney is buried in Paris at Père Lachaise Cemetery.
On 19 May 1804, Ney received his Marshal's baton, emblematic of his status as a Marshal of the Empire, the Napoleonic era's equivalent of Marshal of France. In the 1805 campaign Ney took command of VI Corps of La Grande Armée, and was praised for his conduct at Elchingen.Chandler 1999, p.314 In November 1805, Ney invaded the Tyrol, capturing Innsbruck from Archduke John. In the 1806 campaign, Ney fought at Jena and then occupied Erfurt. Later in the campaign, Ney successfully besieged Magdeburg. In the 1807 campaign Ney arrived with reinforcements in time to save Napoleon from defeat at Eylau, although the battle ended as a draw. Later in the campaign, Ney fought at Güttstadt, and commanded the right wing at Friedland. On 6 June 1808, Ney was created Duke of Elchingen. In August 1808 Ney was sent to Spain in command of VI Corps, and won a number of minor actions. In 1809 he routed an Anglo-Portuguese force under Sir Robert Wilson at Baños. In 1810 Ney joined Marshal Masséna in the invasion of Portugal, where he took Ciudad Rodrigo from the Spanish and Almeida from the British and Portuguese, brusquely defeated the British on the River Côa, and fought at Buçaco. During the retreat from Torres Vedras, Ney worsted Wellington's forces in a series of lauded rearguard actions (Pombal, Redinha, Casal Novo, Foz d'Aronce) with which he delayed the pursuing enemy forces enough to allow the main French force to retreat unmolested. He was ultimately removed from command for insubordination.
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