Masséna, André, duc de Rivoli, prince d'Essling

MARSHAL (FRANCE)
BORN 6 Apr 1758, Levens (near Nice) - DIED 4 Apr 1817, Paris
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Père Lachaise, Rue du Repos 16 (division 28, 1ere ligne, O, 33)

André Masséna was orphaned when he was six years old. After a short career on the sea he joined the army. After he was dismissed in 1789 he was a smuggler for a while, but soon he joined the National Guard as an officer. On 10 Aug 1789 he married Anne-Marie-Rosalie Lamare (Antibes 4 Sep 1765-Paris 3 Jan 1829). Their first child Marie-Anne-Élisabeth was born in 1790 but died in 1794. They had three more children that survived.

In 1792 he was heading the French troops during the occupation of Nice, where counter revolutionary forces were neutralized. In 1796 he fought with Napoleon Bonaparte in Italy and at Rivoli he won an important battle. In 1799 he commanded the army in Switzerland and defeated the Austrians and the Russians at Zürich. After France became an empire Masséna became a marshall.

In 1809 he fought the Austrians at Eszling. In 1810 he commanded the French troops at the Peninsula (he went here with his mistress who was dressed as a dragoon). But Wellington defeated the French troops several times. Masséna was recalled to France by Napolon, who gave him no important assignments from 1812 to 1814.

After the fall of Napoleon, he met Wellington at a party in December 1814. Massena told Wellington that the latter owned him a dinner, since he had starved Massena and his troops. Wellington laughed and replied that he was the one entitled to a dinner since Massena had kept him from his sleep at the Peninsula.

When Napoleon returned to France in 1815 Masséna was military governor of Marseille. The emperor pardoned him for having served the Bourbons and Masséna kept order in Marseille during the Hundred Days. However, he didn't extradite royalists to the emperor. After the second restoration he presided the Chambres des pairs on 23 June 1815 and he interrupted Charles de la Bédoyère who pleaded for succession by Napoleon II, saying 'Jeune homme, vous vous oubliez' ('young man, you forget yourself').

However, it was noted that Massena had supported Napoleon to a certain extent during the 100 days and he was dismissed from his official functions. He was ordered to be a member of the court martial that tried Ney, but allthough he bad been on bad terms with Ney he refused to judge him. This led to violent attacks against Masséna by the royalists. The last months of his life he suffered from tuberculosis and he died in April, 1817. He was buried with military honours at Père Lachaise and his name was inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe.

At the time of his death he was very rich. He had been Napoleon's greatest marshall and was nicknamed 'L'Enfant chéri de la Victoire' ('the Beloved Child of Victory'). He had also been a great plunderer. Napoleon remarked at St. Helena that Masséna had stolen well ('Masséna a bien volé').

Related persons
• has a connection with Ney, Michel, Duc d’Elchingen, Prince de la Moskowa
• was defeated by Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of

Sources
Ier Empire - Les personnages - André Masséna
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
Napoleonic Marshals : Andre Massena

Images

The grave of André Masséna at Père Lachaise, Paris.
Picture by Androom (19 Nov 2006)

 

Buste of André Masséna in the garden of the Musée Masséna, Nice.
Picture by Androom (03 Dec 2008)

 


Mathews, Charles

Published: 22 Apr 2007
Last update: 30 Mar 2014