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Old December 1st, 2017, 09:06 PM   #121

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My reading of the Murat appointed after Napoleon left the army is he was the least threat if given overall command. That Napoleon did not want to augment the standing of the other Marshals. Napoleon was often over optimistic about the situation so I go with Napoleon believing the danger was over the Russians would not be pressing, so he could appoint Murat. Bit like Berithier in 1809.
The way Caulaincourt describes it, there was never a question of giving overall command to one of the marshals. Actually, I can see why. Among the original corps commanders Davout and Ney (whom Napoleon in his propaganda built up as the hero of the retreat) were in open conflict with each other and Oudinot was wounded (again).
It was by all accounts always a decision between Murat and Eugène. According to Caulaincourt, Napoleon claimed that Berthier preferred Murat and agreed with that decision because Eugène would be ready to serve under Murat but Murat never under Eugène. (Now, we do not know how Murat would have reacted but we do know how Eugène did: he immediately asked to be sent home to Milan. He was, of course, refused.)

So I wonder: if Napoleon considered Murat that useless anyway, why did he not simply let him go home? After all, Murat did have a kingdom to govern, so there would have been a good excuse.

As for Eugène, Caulaincourt suspects that Napoleon may have had political reasons for not wishing to give him command. If he's right, then it's apparently a decision of "Better someone who will botch things up and be blamed for it than somebody who might actually make it work and then receive credit for it."

Which, again, in my eyes makes Napoeon look like an idiot. So I prefer to think that he saw some qualities in Murat that, apparently, most historians do not see.

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Napoleon was a bit of a control freak, when he made his appointments he had the habit of trying to control their every action. He did this to Joseph in Naples and did similarly to Murat. The idea was generally that Murat would just obey Napoleon's orders. Why Napoleon kept giving him important missions even though he kept making a much of things is beyond me. Though Murat didn't officially slip until maybe Heilsberg in 1807 and even then Murat didn't make that many massive mistakes until 1813. It might have been for that reason that Napoleon did not use him in 1809. Murat really was a useful idiot for the most part. After all it had been Murat who proved himself useful during the Paris uprising in 1795 and during Napoleon's coup d'etat. He had no role beyond that, it just turns out that he was less capable of carrying out Napoleon's orders than previously believed.
A bit of a control freak? It's a good thing for all his subordinates that cell-phones weren't invented yet - they wouldn't have had a moment's peace all day .
(And actually, that's not funny. The fact that he was either unable or unwilling to delegate work and to surround himself with people he could trust is, imo, one of Napoleon's biggest character flaws.)

I think in 1809 Murat (who begged to be allowed to join the army) was much more important in Naples - after all, that was a zone of direct confrontation with "the English". Plus, once Eugène has been defeated Napoleon does threaten to replace him with Murat. So he at least toyed with the idea.

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Caroline had been planning some sort of arrangement with the Austrians before Murat had attempted to take a lead role. She had also met with Metternich to make such an arrangement. She was very much the brains.
Okay, I'll bite . Source?
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Old December 1st, 2017, 11:13 PM   #122

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I can't remember the source for the life of me, though Caroline was definitely in contact with Metternich since about 1809/1810. So was Talleyrand for that matter.
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Old December 1st, 2017, 11:37 PM   #123

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As an aside I'm sure Machiavelli would have a field day writing about Napoleon.
Mind you I actually think that Napoleon's skepticism of his marshals was a good quality, one necessary for the position that he was in.

Murat did have good qualities, for starters he was persistent and did not relent when on the attack. He was also a strong commanding presence and had no trouble getting what he wanted out of his soldiers and officers. The problem was really that Murat did not plan and could not coordinate with his colleagues and generally did not hold the respect of the other marshals. Though Napoleon's use of Murat was political and it would have been a stretch to assume that he would have been unable to carry out Napoleon's orders at say Heilsberg in 1807. It is just that his other bad qualities got in the way and he botched the whole operation. The issue was really that Murat lacked professionalism and was promoted far above what he could do so that a simple operation planned by Napoleon became rocket science to Murat. It isn't like Napoleon could have guessed that Murat would have performed so terribly at that time but he really should have given the task to someone more qualified. Also in 1812 Murat was really the only one in a position to take the command since Davout and just about everybody could not have physically taken up the command position due to their being occupied with their Corps.
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Old December 1st, 2017, 11:48 PM   #124

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Sounds similar to how Theopompus describes Philip of Macedon's court. Apparently the king would encourage his companions [the military nobility] to engage in all sorts of disgusting behaviors, such as gambling and orgies, and despised those who were responsible with their land and money. To me, this appears to be a clear attempt by Philip to keep the nobles from uniting against him, as well weakening themselves by gambling wealth and land. Not to mention keeping them distracted constantly.
It makes sense given that their positions were so tenuous. Remember that Napoleon seized power through the direct aid or complacency of many within the establishment. It might even be the case that certain figures within Britain and even the Pope pulled a few strings to ensure Napoleon's early success, but that is neither here nor there. Not two years into his rule and there were already multiple assassination attempts (from both Bourbons and Jacobins), planned coups and an important general like Moreau threatening his power. Napoleon increased his personal control gradually and it was not until after 1808 that he had total control of the French state. But all that could be undone by someone who simply tried to do what Napoleon did.
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Old December 2nd, 2017, 01:31 AM   #125

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I can't remember the source for the life of me, though Caroline was definitely in contact with Metternich since about 1809/1810. So was Talleyrand for that matter.
Well, of course she would be - since 1810 Austria was allied to France and Caroline sister-in-law to an Austrian princess. Being "in contact" with Metternich would hardly be suspicious at the time - having an affair with him might be, at least to her husband. (By the way, in the german translation of Joseph Turqan's "Caroline Murat" the editor added an anecdote about Napoleon whispering to Caroline, with a sideways glance to Metternich, that she should "entertain that guy, we might need him". That however, would already have happened in 1808.)

As for Caroline's role in Naples, to my knowledge she was for a very long time the center of the "French party" - in opposition to Murat's "Italian" politics and in compliance with Napoleon's wishes. I think it was in June 1811 when Maghella (a Neapolitan) denounced minister of war Hector Daure of having an affair with the queen in a ploy to get rid of him and his "French" politics. So at least up to that point it seems unlikely that Caroline was supporting her husband's dreams of Italian independence.
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Old December 2nd, 2017, 09:43 AM   #126

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The best advice I could offer is that you attempt to put some level of distance between the reader and Napoleon himself. He was a man larger than his place in history. From a historical perspective, his mysticism and allure are inseparable from his humanity, and that is exactly that which makes him so utterly compelling.

Of course I'm not suggesting you obscure the truth. It is important that people know he was in the end a man, and that he had fatal flaws. But if you attempt to document him in a light where he becomes nothing more than a common person, you could fail. The 2002 series, not withstanding some of it's tremendous scenes (overall I enjoyed it), ultimately succumbed to this problem and it bothered me.

(the scene at Boulogne, where Napoleon learns of the coalition and turns to Murat and says "change of plans!" was just cringe worthy.)

Good luck! You're one of my favorite posters on Historum, and I expect I would enjoy your effort.

edit: I have not read through this thread and so am not sure what your conceptual plans are. Forgive me if I have missed the mark in regards to your vision.

Last edited by jdghgh; December 2nd, 2017 at 09:47 AM.
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Old December 2nd, 2017, 09:39 PM   #127

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Could one see Napoleon relation with his commanders as some kind of second family
from a young age he was seeped in the military , his prospects were linked to the military , military was his field of excellence , in a way it was a personal space to be something else than a son of a provincial clan

As for Murat , I believe his relation with him started during the Vedemiare crushing of the royalist insurrection , just when Bonaparte career was at a low ebb and sinking .
Murat gave him the guns , Bonaparte fortune changed , his star rose finally
Murat then became a token of success for him , being stupid and brave didn't faze him ,
Murat was a cavalry man to the bone , which intellectual artillererist hold in bemused admirative contempt not quite sure which is the smartest , the man or the horse
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 10:33 PM   #128

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Did some reading on Louis Gabriel Suchet. To me he comes off as the little train that could.
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