Kleber, Jean Baptiste

BORN 6 Mar 1753, Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin - DIED 14 Jun 1800, Cairo
CAUSE OF DEATH murdered by stabbing
GRAVE LOCATION Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin: Kleber monument, Place Kléber

Jean Baptiste Kléber was the son of a builder. From 1770 to 1774 he studied architecture, partly in Paris under Jean Chalgrin. After he assisted two German nobles during a fight in a tavern they secured him access to the military school in Munich. From there he joined the Austrian army and was stationed in Mechelen and Luxembourg. His chances for promotion were limited and he resigned from the army in 1783. Back in France he worked as a building inspector at Belfort and he studied military science. He designed the town hall of Thann, Haut-Rhin (1787-1793) and several other buildings.

In 1792 he entered the French army as a volunteer. He was soon promoted to lieutenant-colonel. He distinguished himself during the defense of Mainz in 1793. He was soon promoted to général de division and with Marceau he defeated the Royalists at Le mans and Sevenay. He saw action several more times before he retired to private life in 1798. In 1799 he joined Napoleon's campaing in Egypt. He commanded a division, but after he was wounded in Alexandria he was appointed governor of that city. But he soon returned to his command and during the Syrian campaign he took El-Arish, Gaza and Jaffa and victorious at Mount Tabor on 15 april 1799.

When Napoleon left for France in August 1799 he put Kleber in command of the French forces. He negotiated the Convention of El-Arish with Sidney Smith that would enabled him to evacuate the French troops. After Admiral Keith refused to confirm the terms he attacked the Tueks at Heliopolis and defeated their army of 60,000 men with his 10,000 men. He re-took Cairo after a revolt, but soon afterwards he was stabbed to death by Suleiman al-Halabi, who was caught and executed afterwards. AT the same day his friend Desaix fell at Merango.

His embalmed body was transported to France, where it was held at the Château d'If on an island near Marseilles. Under Louis XVIII he was buried under his statue in Strasbourg on 15 December 1838. His heart was buried at the Saint Louis Chapel in Les Invalides, Paris.

Related persons
• was the lover of Fourès, Pauline


The Kleber monument at the Place Kleber, Strasbourg. Beneath it, his remains were buried.
Picture by Androom (16 Aug 2003)


Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
Jean-Baptiste Kléber - Wikipedia

Kleist, Heinrich von

Published: 15 Dec 2021
Last update: 01 Jan 2023