The Battle of Tolentino > Joachim Murat

Casa di Gioacchino MuratJOACHIM MURAT Joachim Murat was born in the village of La Bastide Fortunière in France on 25th March 1767. He was the son of a hotel keeper; it seemed as if he was going to be a priest but he ran away from the seminar and preferred a military career, where he distinguished himself for his ability as a knight and for his martial bearing. After an unlucky beginning, due to an act of insubordination, his military career was fast and successful; on 8th February 1792 he entered the National Guard, in April 1793 he was appointed captain and, in May 1796, he became aide-de-camp of Napoleon with the rank of brigade general. He was with Bonaparte in the Egypt campaign and, after the success obtained in the battle of Abukir (1799), where he distinguished himself for his bravery in combat and for his tactic ability, he was appointed marshal of division. On 2nd December 1799, after Napoleon was elected First Consul and after Murat had defended him during the Brumaio days against the Council of the Five Hundred, the latter was appointed commander-in-chief of the Consular Guard. Even if at the beginning he wasn't really accepted by the First Consul, the future king of Naples entered the Bonaparte family on 20th January 1800, marrying Napoleon's sister, the beautiful Caroline (Mary Annunziata). He had the opportunity to show again his courage and his ability as a leader in the various battles of 1800 in Italy, especially during the battle of Marengo (14th June 1800). A year after his marriage (21st January 1801) he became the father of Achilles-Charles-Louis-Napoleon; at the end of the same year he got the office of general-in-chief he strongly wanted. On 25th April 1802 his second daughter, Mary-Laetitia-Josephine-Annunziata, was born. On 16th January 1803 his third child, Lucian-Napoleon-Charles-Francis, was born in Milan. When Murat came back to France, he was acclaimed by everybody in his hometown La Bastide. He was appointed governor of Paris, commander of the troops of the First Army Division and of the National Guard, then, in May 1804, he became marshal and great admiral of the Empire. On 22nd March 1805 Napoleon gave the Elyseum to his sister Caroline for the birth of her fourth and last daughter, Louise-Julie-Caroline, and in the same year Murat had the opportunity of distinguishing himself in the Prussian campaign, which culminated in the victory of Austerliz (2nd December 1805) and successfully ended in the peace of Presburg. This campaign highlighted all the defects and merits of the future king of Naples; his tactic errors and his impulsive decisions jeopardized the final success of the campaign, but his bravery and his ability as a leader caused him to be considered a cavalry master. Thanks to the importance of his victory, on 15th March 1806 he was given the dukedoms of Clèves and of Berg by his brother-in-law Napoleon. In the last four months of 1806 Murat had another opportunity to show his ability as a military leader during the Prussian campaign.Gioacchino Murat
In Jena the sweeping charges of his cavalry shattered the Prussian army and some brave stratagems in Stettino permitted the capitulation of the garrison. Prussia, which was without an army, didn't worry Napoleon, but the nearing Russian army forced him to start a new campaign. After the glorious entry in Warsaw (28th November 1806) and some victorious combats, Eylau battle came (8th February 1807), where the future king of Naples led his most imposing and most celebrated cavalry charge (at the end of the combat Napoleon declared that the battle had been won by Joachim Murat). When the campaign of Poland was over, all of Europe was at Napoleon's feet, but Murat still had to wait to obtain a crown. After the Treaty of Tilsit Northern Europe was calm, but people foresaw that the Iberian peninsula would be the centre of new combats. In 1807 Portugal was conquered by the French troops of marshal Junot; on 27th February Joachim Murat crossed the Spanish frontier, on 10th March he occupied Victoria and on 16th he was in Aranda. Gioacchino MuratOn 23rd March 1808 the French army entered Madrid hoping to be considered as a liberator, but it was attacked by the people of Madrid because it protected the hated Godoy (one of the ministers of the Spanish sovereign Charles IV who had taken shelter in France). On 2nd May disorders began in all of Madrid, and only in the evening the French were again masters of the city, after several hard and cruel fights. On 5th May 1808 the Treaty of Bajona was signed by the French and by the Spanish; it marked the end of Murat's Spanish campaign. In a letter dated 2nd May Napoleon offered his brother-in-law the possibility of choosing between becoming king of Naples or king of Portugal, thus destroying Murat's ambition to get the Spanish crown, which was given by Napoleon to his brother Joseph Bonaparte, who didn't want it at all. On 5th May 1808 Murat accepted to become king of Naples instead of Joseph Bonaparte and that was how, on 1st August 1808, a groom - the son of a hotel keeper - came to be proclaimed king with the official title "Joachim Napoleon thanks to God and to the Constitution of the State, King of the two Sicilies and Great Admiral of the Empire". As a good general and a fighter, as well as a sovereign, Murat first reorganised the army on the model of the French one as regarded structure and equipment. Several important reforms were made in legislation: "Napoleon's code" and the "French trade code" in 1809, the "Criminal code" in 1812; furthermore, new law courts were opened, as well as register offices.Gioacchino Murat Murat ordered a large sum to be destined to public works each year; he also created the "Engineer corps for roads and bridges", which had the task of executing those works. Besides, he abolished feudal privileges and favoured the growth of a middle class of landowners and merchants. The relationship between the Emperor and Joachim Murat was difficult; in fact, they often argued because of Murat's enthusiasm for the independence of the Italian peninsula. Napoleon called him to command the great reserve of the French army in the Russian campaign and Murat gave proof of his loyalty to his brother-in-law. He reached the Great Army in Thorn on 3rd June 1812 and had his first combat in Ostrowno, where, at the end of the fight, the French losses were 187 men against a few thousands of Russians. After the first combats, the Russian army withdrew and didn't accept any other direct fight, so Napoleon wondered if he should stop and organise his forces, waiting for winter to pass, or continue and come to a decisive fight. After letting men and horses rest for a few days, on 8th August the French began to advance again, but, at this stage, there were only modest fights. Finally, on 7th September, the Great Army faced the Russian troops; once again, Murat proved all his courage in the battle of Borodino. On the day after the battle the Russian army withdrew, so the French took the opportunity for a day's rest. Gioacchino Murat
It was Murat who entered Moscow; he had to pursue the Russian army and then come back to the Kremlin, where the Emperor awaited him, in a city that had been burning for three days. The French, who had been waiting for direct combats, were forced to bear the fast charges of the Cossacks; that was how the slow and tormented retreat of the imperial army started, which the freezing Russian winter turned into a complete defeat. Murat was given the command of the Great Army by Napoleon, but, finding it impossible to solve the situation, he went to Caserta on 31st January 1813 and officially arrived in Naples on 4th February. His return to Naples coincided with another period of difficult relationship with his brother-in-law. Murat tried to save his throne negotiating peace with the Austrians, but he didn't succeed because of his exorbitant requests. Even if he risked remaining isolated, he decided to reach the Emperor in Germany and fight again at his side after the armistice had been broken. On 26th and 2

th August 1813 he fought in Dresden and on 18th October he fought in Leipzig, but at the end of October he left his brother-in-law, whom he would never see again, to reach the kingdom of Naples and form an alliance with the Austrians and the British. Murat would have liked to unite Italy under one crown, but to make his dream come true he needed both the support of all the other countries and that of the patriots of Italian independence. On 11th January 1814 Murat signed with the representative of Austria, general Neipperg, the Convention of Naples which guaranteed, on his side, the availability of 30,000 men; thus, he obtained for his descendants the sovereignty on the territories he possessed in Italy. Gioacchino MuratThe intentions of the king of Naples weren't very clear in this period; he expected an official recognition from Austria, but he neither lost his contacts with Napoleon nor the possibility of making Italy a united nation. Napoleon was defeated and Paris was conquered; though the king of Naples had confronted the French army, he was no longer considered as an ally. Meanwhile, the Congress of Vienna was restoring all European monarchies. The year 1815 saw Murat isolated since he hadn't obtained the permission to pass through the Austrian territory with his army. He learned that Napoleon had landed in Cannes after leaving his exile in Elba Island; he foresaw Austria would be favourable to the return of the Bourbons on the throne of Naples, so he decided to make Italy a free nation. His project seemed both difficult and premature because he didn't have the support of the European powers and also because the national conscience of Italian people wasn't ready for it. Murat persisted in his idea, supported by his army, which was composed of about 40,000 men (though not all of them experienced), and by skilful generals like Lechi, Pepe, Caracciolo, D'Ambrosio, Pignatelli; thus, he started the conquest of Northern Italy. On 27th March there was a first combat with the Austrian army and on0th March 1815, for the first time in Italian history, a document, the Proclamation of Rimini, exalted the unity of Italy and exhorted Italians to fight in order to reach such a noble purpose.
Gioacchino Murat a Pizzo di Calabria On 3rd April Bologna was conquered, then Cento and Ferrara, but, after Murat's army had failed to conquer Occhiobello, and after the divisions occupying Tuscany had born heavy losses, Murat's army was forced to withdraw and on 29th April he arrived in Ancona. He decided to accept to fight in Tolentino, since it was the best place to divide the two Austrian armies that were pursuing him and put as much distance between them as possible, so that they could be faced one by one, as Napoleon's tactics commanded. Fights and desertions had reduced the Neapolitan army to about 15,000 hungry, tired men; baron Bianchi commanded the army on the Austrian side, which was composed of about 12,000 men. On 2nd and on 3rd May 1815 the towns of Tolentino, Monte Milone (currently Pollenza) and Macerata saw the fight of the two armies, which ended because of the retreat of the Neapolitan troops. Murat's dream of an independent Italy was over.
Gioacchino Murat On 18th May Murat was in Naples, but he had to leave for Cannes, which he reached on 25th May; there he learned he no longer was king of Naples. He was informed of the defeat of the French army in Waterloo and was forced to wander in disguise in France; after a difficult and dangerous navigation, on 25th July he arrived in Bastia, Corsica. Murat received false news that in Naples the situation was favourable to a possible return of king Joachim Napoleon. In the night between the 28th and the 29th of September, Murat left Corsica island from Ajaccio bay; after a storm, the fleet was reduced from six sailing boats to two; on 8th October they disembarked at Pizzo of Calabria. After a short combat on the road leading to Monteleone, Murat and his few faithful officers were captured and locked in Pizzo Castle. Murat was tried by a military commission and was sentenced to death; on 13th October 1815, in Pizzo castle, one of the bravest knights in Italian history died, shot by six bullets. But "Murattismo" continued in Naples until 1861, when Joachim's dream became true: at last, Italy was united and independent. Italian patriots were fascinated by Joachim Murat. When Giuseppe Garibaldi went up the peninsula, after the Mille had landed, he paid homage to Murat's memory in Pizzo di Calabria. He also sent the marquise Pepoli, great-granddaughter of Joachim, one of the bullets that had killed him. "I'm sending you - he wrote - the bullet that deprived mankind of the most valiant of the valiants, the brave winner of the Moscowa, Murat, king of Naples".
Fucialzione di Gioacchino Murat

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