Monday, December 7, 2009

Marshal Michel Ney

"Le brave des braves", as Napoleon called him after commanding the rear guard in the retreat from Moscow, Michel Ney was killed this day in Paris, in 1815. It was no stray bullet that felled one of Napoleon's elite marshals, but the work of a firing squad. Soon after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo and subsequent exile, Ney was charged with treason, tried, and found guilty by the Chamber of Peers.

The Chamber of Peers consisted of nobles under the Bourbon reign, which was restored to power following Napoleon's first defeat; at Paris. Ney facilitated Napoleon's abdication after this defeat, for which King Louis XVIII raised him to the level of Peer. When Napoleon returned from exile, Ney intercepted him with the stated intent of supporting Louis. Napoleon convinced him otherwise, and the 100 days campaign ensued. Marshal Ney was in charge of the left wing of the French army at Waterloo, which became trapped; a direct cause of the French defeat.

True to his Napoleonic sobriquet, Ney faced his firing squad without a blindfold, and in fact issued the orders to fire upon himself.

Scott includes the Marshal Ney in his "Life of Napoleon", his name appearing in the text more than 50 times.

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