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

BORN 6 Apr 1758, Levens (near Nice) - DIED 4 Apr 1817, Paris
CAUSE OF DEATH tuberculosis
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Père Lachaise, Rue du Repos 16 (division 28, ligne 01, 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 Essling. 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 although 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
• was sculpted by Carrier-Belleuse, Albert-Ernest
• has a connection with Ney, Michel, Duc d’Elchingen, Prince de la Moskowa
• is grandparent of Reille, André Charles
• commanded Reille, Honoré Charles
• was defeated by Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of

22/4/1809Davout defeats the Austrians near Eckmühl. The battle was opened by Davout and the Bavarian army. In the afternoon Napoleon joined in with the of Lannes and Masséna as well as the Württemberg troops under Vandamma. After a cavelry attack the Austrians under Archduke Karl were forced to withdraw to Regensburg. He lost 6,000 of his 26,000 soldiers during the battle. The French troops counted 65,000 heads and suffered much smaller losses. Shortly after the battle Regensburg and Munich were occupied by the French. Davout received the title Prince of Eckmühl. [Davout, Louis-Nicholas, Duke of Auerstädt][Karl, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Teschen][Lannes, Jean, Duc de Montebello]
21/5/1809The Austrians defeat the French near Aspern. The battle took place on 21 and 22 May. Karl, Duke of Teschen commanded the Austrians in their biggest succes against the Napoleontic troops. It was said that Napoleon, who stayed at the Lobau Isle in the Donau river, afterwards conceived a son with his mistress Maria Walewska. The Austrians soon lost their advantage during the Battle of Wagram. Karl was hunoured as big hero and received a statue in Vienna. [Karl, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Teschen][Lannes, Jean, Duc de Montebello][Walewska, Maria ]


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


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


Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909

Mastroianni, Marcello

Published: 22 Apr 2007
Last update: 17 Feb 2022