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Joachim-Napol√©on Murat (born Joachim Murat; ; 25 March 1767 ‚Äď 13 October 1815), 1st Prince Murat, Grand Duke of Bergmarker and Clevesmarker, Marshal of France and Admiral of France, was King of Naples from 1808 to 1815. He received his titles in part by being the brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte, through marriage to Napoleon's youngest sister, Caroline Bonaparte. He was noted as a flamboyant dresser and was known as 'the dandy king'.

Early life

Joachim Murat was born 25 March 1767, in La Bastidemarker, (renamed Labastide-Murat after its renowned citizen), in the Lotmarker department of Francemarker, in the former province of Guyenne, to Pierre Murat-Jordy, (d. 27 July 1799), an innkeeper, and his wife Jeanne Loubi√®res (La Bastide Fortuni√®re, b.1722 ‚Äď La Bastide Fortuni√®re, d. 11 March 1806), daughter of Pierre Loubi√®res and of his wife Jeanne Viellescazes. His father was the son of Guillaume Murat (1692 ‚Äď 1754) and wife Marguerite Herbeil (‚Äď 1755), paternal grandson of Pierre Murat, born in 1634, and wife Catherine Badour√®s, who died in 1697, and maternal grandson of Bertrand Herbeil and wife Anne Roques.

Murat enlisted in the cavalry at the age of twenty. In 1791, he joined the king's Constitutional Guard, but left it soon for the regular army. In 1792, he became an officer. He was a staunch supporter of the notorious revolutionary Jacobin Jean-Paul Marat, and thus believed in a philosophy championing a strong centralized government in the form of a republic.

13 Vendémiaire

In the autumn of 1795, three years after King Louis XVI of France was deposed, royalist and counter-revolutionaries organised an armed uprising. On 3 October, General Napoleon Bonaparte, who was stationed in Paris, was named commander of the French National Convention's defending forces. This constitutional convention, after a long period of emergency rule, was striving to establish a more stable and permanent government in the uncertain period after the Reign of Terror. Bonaparte tasked Murat with the gathering of artillery from a suburb outside the control of the government's forces. Murat managed to take the cannons of the Camp des Sablons and transport them to the centre of Paris while avoiding the rioters. The use of these cannons on 4 October allowed Bonaparte to save the members of the National Convention. For this success Joachim Murat was made chef de brigade (colonel) and thereafter remained one of Napoleon's best officers.

Italian and Egyptian campaigns

In 1796, with the situation in the capital and government apparently stabilised and the war going poorly (See also: French Revolutionary Wars), Napoleon lobbied to join the armies attempting to secure the revolution against the invading monarchist forces. Murat then went with Bonaparte to northern Italy, initially as his aide-de-camp, and was later named commander of the cavalry during the many campaigns against the Austrians and their allies. These forces were waging war on France and seeking to restore a monarchy in revolutionary France. His valour and his daring cavalry charges later earned him the rank of général in these important campaigns, the battles of which became famous as Bonaparte constantly used speed of maneuver to fend off and eventually defeat individually superior opposing armies closing in on the French forces from several directions. Thus, Murat's skills in no small part helped establish Bonaparte's legendary fame and enhance his popularity with the French people.

Murat commanded the cavalry of the French Egyptian expedition of 1798, again under Bonaparte. The expedition's strategic goal was to threaten Britain's rich holdings in India. (Some had been taken from France during the Seven Years' War). However, the overall effort ended prematurely because of lack of logistical support with the defeat of the French fleet due to British sea power (See: Battle of the Nilemarker). After the sea battle, Napoleon led his troops on land toward Europe (via Palestine and thence Ottoman Turkey), but was recalled by the Directory (at least in part) as it feared an invasion by Britain. Abbé Sieyès also saw Bonaparte as an ally against a resurgent Jacobin movement, and so the expeditionary army was turned over to a subordinate.

The remaining non-military expedition staff officers, including Murat, and Bonaparte returned to France, eluding various British fleets in five frigates. A short while later, Murat played an important, even pivotal, role in Bonaparte's 'coup within a coup' of 18 Brumaire (9 November 1799) when Napoleon first assumed national power. Along with two others (including Director Abbé Sieyès), Napoleon Bonaparte set aside the five-man directory government, establishing the three-man French Consulate government.

Murat married Caroline Bonaparte in a civil ceremony on 20 January 1800 at Mortefontaine (Plaillymarker?) and religiously on 4 January 1802 in Parismarker, thus becoming a son-in-law of Letizia Ramolino as well as brother-in-law to Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon I of France, Lucien Bonaparte, Elisa Bonaparte, Louis Bonaparte, Pauline Bonaparte and J√©r√īme Bonaparte.

Napoleonic wars

Napoleon made Murat a Marshal of France on 18 May 1804, and also granted him the title of "First Horseman of Europe". He was created Prince of the Empire in 1805, appointed Grand Duke of Bergmarker and Clevesmarker on 15 March 1806 and held this title till 1 August 1808 when he was named King of Naples and Sicily.

Murat was equally useful in Napoleon's invasion of Russia (1812), and in the Battle of Leipzigmarker (1813). However, after France's defeat at Leipzig, Murat reached an agreement with the Austrian Empiremarker in order to save his own throne.

Murat met a fearless death, taking the shots standing and unblindfolded.
During the Hundred Days, he realized that the European powers, meeting as the Congress of Vienna, had the intention to remove him and return the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily to its pre-Napoleonic rulers. Murat deserted his new allies, and, after issuing a proclamation to the Italian patriots in Rimini, moved north to fight against the Austrians in the Neapolitan War to strengthen his rule in Italy by military means. He was defeated by Frederick Bianchi, a general of Francis I of Austria, in the Battle of Tolentinomarker (2-3 May 1815).

He fled to Corsicamarker after Napoleon's fall. During an attempt to regain Naples through an insurrection in Calabria, he was arrested by the forces of the legitimate King, Ferdinand IV of Naples, and was eventually executed by firing squad at the Castello di Pizzomarker, (Calabria).

When the fatal moment arrived, Murat walked with a firm step to the place of execution, as calm, as unmoved, as if he had been going to an ordinary review.
He would not accept a chair, nor suffer his eyes to be bound.
"I have braved death (said he) too often to fear it."
He stood upright, proudly and undauntedly, with his countenance towards the soldiers; and when all was ready, he kissed a cameo on which the head of his wife was engraved, and gave the word ‚ÄĒ thus,
¬ę Soldats ! Faites votre devoir ! Droit au cŇďur mais √©pargnez le visage. Feu ! ¬Ľ
"Soldiers! Do your duty! Straight to the heart but avoid the face. Fire!"
Murat is memorialised by a grave in Père Lachaise Cemeterymarker though it is claimed he is not actually buried there but that his body was lost or destroyed after his execution. Others say he was buried in a church in Pizzo making the removal of his body possible later on.


Murat and Caroline had four children:


He had a brother named Pierre Murat (La Bastide-Fortuni√®re, 27 November 1748 ‚Äď La Bastide-Fortuni√®re, 8 October 1792), who married at La Bastide-Fortuni√®re on 26 February 1783 Louise d'Astorg (La Bastide-Fortuni√®re, 23 October 1762 ‚Äď 31 May 1832), daughter of Aymeric d'Astorg, born in 1721, and wife Marie Alanyou, paternal granddaughter of Antoine d'Astorg, born 18 November 1676, and wife Marie de Mary (4 May 1686 ‚Äď 7 October 1727) and maternal granddaughter of Jean Alanyou and wife Louise de Valon. Pierre and Louise were the parents of Marie, Pierre, Adrien, Radegonde, Thomas Joachim and Marie Antoinette Murat, whom Emperor Napoleon I arranged to marry Charles, Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen; Karl III and Marie were the parents of Charles Anthony, Prince of Hohenzollern from whom descended Stephanie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Queen of Portugal; her brother Carol I of Romania and Carol I nephew Albert I of Belgium.

Another descendant of note is great-great-great-grandson and Star Trek icon Rene Auberjonois.


  1. Chavanon, Jules and Georges Saint-Yves, Joachim Murat (1767-1815), (Libraire Hachette, 1905), 4.
  2. Connelly, pp. 20-21.


  • Bonar, Hugh S. (Jr.), Joachim Murat : lieutenant of the Emperor, Consortium on Revolutionary Europe 1750-1850 (University of Florida), Articles relatifs totalement ou partiellement √† la p√©riode 1795-1815, Proceedings 1989.
  • Chavanon, Jules and Georges Saint-Yves, Joachim Murat (1767-1815), Libraire Hachette, 1905.
  • Connelly, Owen, Blundering to Glory: Napoleon's Military Campaigns, Scholarly Resources Imprint, 1987.

Further reading

  • Potocka-WńÖsowiczowa, Anna z Tyszkiewicz√≥w. Wspomnienia naocznego Ňõwiadka. Warszawa: PaŇĄstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1965.

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