Louis Nicolas Davout
October 17, 2021
Louis Nicolas Davout, responsible Louis-Nicolas d'Avout, also Davoust (born May 10, 1770 in Annoux, Burgundy, died June 1, 1823 in Paris) - French military and aristocrat, Duke Auerstedt, Duke of Eckmühl, Marshal of France, considered one of the two, alongside Massény, Napoleon's greatest commanders. Some historians give priority to the latter because of the victory at Zurich (1799), however Davout did not lose a single battle when Masséna in turn was defeated at Busacco (1810). He descended from the petty French nobility settled in the Yonne department. He started his military career in the royal army. He was a second lieutenant. His career developed in Carnot's revolutionary army. In order to show support for the revolution and for security, he changed the spelling of his surname d'Avout to the less aristocratic Davout. As head of the brigade, he was promoted straight away to the rank of Brigadier General at the age of only 24. He took part in Napoleon's campaigns in Italy and Egypt. In 1800 he became the commander-in-chief of the Italian cavalry. He was nominated to the rank of marshal on May 19, 1804. In 1805 he took command of the third corps of the Grand Army. In 1806 - on his own - he defeated the more than twice as numerous Prussian army at Auerstedt. In 1809 he commanded the corps that started the victorious Battle of Eckmühl and became famous also in the Battle of Wagram. He organized the Great Army before the Russian campaign. During the retreat from Moscow, Davout lost the symbol of marshal's dignity - a mace decorated with golden eagles. Napoleon appreciated one of his best commanders. On July 2, 1808, he awarded the marshal the title of Duke (Duc) d'Auerstedt, and on November 28, 1809, Prince d'Eckmühl. Regardless of the titles, he received a salary and donations of 700,000 francs a year. Donations were made from conquered and allied countries; incl. The Duchy of Warsaw paid the marshal a donation of 200,000 francs a year. In the years 1813–1814, he defended Hamburg, located on the periphery of the military operations, and he did not hand him over until he was ordered by Louis XVIII. During Napoleon's 100 days he was the minister of war. After his final defeat, he was demoted. In 1817 he was reinstated with the rank of marshal and other titles. In 1819 he became a member of the Chamber of Peers.