Which lover of a Russian Empress obtained the highest rank?

Which lover of a Russian Empress obtained the highest rank?

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There were numerous well-known male lovers of Russian Empresses, particularly those of Catherine the Great. Such a role often meant receiving sumptuous gifts such as beautiful apartments, the status of minor nobility, and grants of serfs.

Some of these men got appointments in the government bureaucracy as well. Which of them was placed highest in the Petrine Table of Ranks?

In addition to aforementioned Count Potemkin, Count Alexei Razumovsky was a lover (or even a morganatic spouse) of the Empress Elizaveta and also a Field Marshal (1756).

In fact, Razumovsky is no lesser known than Potemkin.

To think outside the Matryoshka dolls for a second, Stanisław August Poniatowski was allegedly a lover of Catherine between 1755-1758 (and the father of her daugher Anna), and was placed on the throne of Poland in 1764. Although the Sejm voted him in, Russia was essentially in control of Poland at the time and they voted Catherine's candidate in. (They'd had to do it before in 1736 for Augustus III under Empress Anna).

So although Poniatowski had to do Catherine's bidding, such as standing by while his country was dismembered, as King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, he nominally outranked any of his Russian counterparts.

Count Potemkin, lover of Catherine the Great. was a Field Marshal, Privy Counsellor (both literally and figuratively) and therefore member of the highest rank on your table of ranks. He is probably the best-known of imperial lovers.

5 most important honors of the Russian Empire

Kunsthalle Hamburg, Public domain, V. Lozovsky, A. Sverdlov/Sputnik.

Why would a country need a system of awards? Peter the Great knew the answer to this question. When he became the Russian tsar, he understood that Russia needed to take a giant leap forward in order to catch up with European competitors, and introducing a system of state awards was a very timely idea.

Portrait of Peter I (1672–1725) by Jean-Marc Nattier

A system of state awards allowed the monarch to distinguish people by his own choice an award could elevate a simple soldier into the higher ranks, or an award could help a nobleman be something more than an equal among equals. Peter introduced the first Russian order in 1698. All Russian orders were given out only by Emperors (except for the Order of St. Catherine, headed and given out by the Empresses).

1. The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle the First-Called

The Star of the Order of St. Andrew. 8х8 cm.

The Order was established in 1698 by Peter the Great (1672-1725), in honor of Saint Andrew, the first apostle of Jesus and patron saint of Russia. It was the first order of Russia, established immediately after Peter returned from his journey to Europe. According to a clerical legend, Apostle Andrew was the first apostle to visit the lands of Kievan Rus and preach Christianity to the Russian people.

The Badge of the Order of St. Andrew.

For almost a century, the order had no statute. The order was bestowed in a single class and was only awarded for the most outstanding civilian or military merit. The insignia consisted of a badge (an enameled crowned black double-headed eagle) and an eight-pointed silver star with the motto "For Faith and Loyalty". The insignia of the order could be awarded "with diamonds" as a special distinction. After 1797, every Russian Grand Duke was awarded the Order upon his baptism, and Princes of the Imperial Blood were awarded it upon reaching 18. In total, there were from 900 to 1,100 knights of this order.

2. The Order of Saint Catherine

A replica of Catherine I's wedding dress, decorated with a Star and a Badge of the Order of St. Catherine.

The Order was historically the second Russian award, established by Peter the Great in the name of St. Catherine, the patron saint of his wife, Catherine I (1684-1727). In 1711, Peter took Catherine, then, his fiance, along with him to the unsuccessful Pruth river campaign, in what is now an area spanning the border between Romania and Moldova. Although Catherine was pregnant at the time, she heroically bore the hardships of the campaign, which awed Peter and his generals alike. The order was formally inaugurated 24 November 1714, the day when Peter and Catherine were married.

The badge of the Order of St. Catherine.

This order was meant only for women and was bestowed in two classes: Dame Grand Cross (entitled to both the badge and the star), and Dame Lesser Cross (only the badge). The order&rsquos motto was &ldquoFor Love and the Fatherland.&rdquo Dames who were bestowed with this order, also, as in the case with the Order of St. Andrew, paid a compulsory toll: 400 rubles for holders of the Dames Grand Cross and 200 rubles for the Dames Lesser Cross. All funds went to charity. Every Russian Grand Duchess was conferred the Grand Cross of the Order at her christening (or marriage into the Romanov family), and Princesses of the Imperial Blood were awarded at 18. The order was bestowed on 734 dames in total.

3. The Order of Saint George

The Star and the Cross (Badge) of the Order of St. George, 1st class

The Order of Saint George was the highest military award of the Russian Empire. Established by Catherine the Great (1729-1796) in 1769, and was meant strictly for awarding personal military prowess on the battlefield. The order, its statute said, was awarded &ldquoto those who did not only fulfill their duty&hellip but also distinguished themselves with some exceptionally courageous deed&hellip This order is to be worn constantly.&rdquo

The Cross (badge) (L) of the Order of St. George, and the iron Cross of St. George (R), decoration of the Order meant for soldiers

The Order of Saint George is divided into four classes, the highest degree being the First Class. The insignia are the cross, the star, and the ribbon. The Cross is a white enameled &lsquocross pattée&rsquo with a central medallion bearing the image of Saint George. The star is a four-pointed silver star with the letters "SG" surrounded by a black enameled band bearing the motto of the order &ndash "For Service and Bravery." The ribbon is orange with three black stripes, it symbolizes fire and gunpowder, the Russian "colors of military glory."

The Cross (Badge) of the Order of St. George, 1st Class

Since 1845, all classes of the order granted the rights of hereditary nobility to its knights. Over 10,000 people were awarded different degrees of the Order, although until 1807 it was only meant for officers. In 1807, a special &ldquosign of distinction&rdquo in the form of a St. George&rsquos cross was established, to decorate especially courageous soldiers (it didn&rsquot grant nobility, though). Although formally, the Order of St. George was lower than the Order of St. Andrew in the Russian Orders&rsquo hierarchy, but for military men, it was the most cherished honor.

4. The Order of Saint Vladimir

The Star of the Order of Saint Vladimir, 1st class.

Established in 1782 by Empress Catherine the Great in memory of the deeds of Saint Vladimir, the Baptizer of Rus&rsquo, this order was meant for both military and civil servants of the Empire. The order had four degrees, the highest being the First Class, and was awarded for continuous service. Its 4th class could be also awarded for outstanding contributions to charity, or for 35 years of flawless service. The order&rsquos motto was &ldquoBenefit, Honor and Glory." The order&rsquos insignia included a red enameled cross with black and gold borders and a gold-and-silver eight-rayed star, worn in different sizes according to the class. The order&rsquos ribbon was black and red.

The Cross (Badge) of the Order of Saint Vladimir, 1st class.

All classes of the order granted the rights of hereditary nobility to its knights. But at the end of the 19th century, it turned out that the 4th class has been awarded for charity to many merchants and manufacturers, who then became &ldquofake&rdquo noblemen. Since 1900, the 4th class only granted the right to personal nobility, which could not be inherited by the knight&rsquos children. The order was bestowed on more than 10,000 people.

5. The Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky

The star of the Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky

This order was originally conceived by Peter the Great for rewarding bravery in battle. But the first Emperor died sooner than he could create it, so it was established by his wife, Empress Catherine I, in 1725. Alexander Nevsky (1221-1263), the Russian prince who defended the lands of future St. Petersburg against Swedish and Lithuanian invaders, was canonized in 1547 and later, his remains were interred in St. Petersburg&rsquos Alexander Nevsky Lavra by Peter the Great himself. So, initially, the order was meant to award great feats in war and diplomacy.

The Cross (Badge) of the Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky, front (L) and back (R)

But, the order was first awarded on the occasion of the wedding of Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia (1708-1728) and Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp (1700-1739) on June 1st, 1725. 18 people received the order that day, and on September 21 more people received it. The order quickly fell in importance behind the &lsquomain&rsquo orders of St. Catherine and, moreover, St. Andrew.

The order first received its official statute only in 1797. The order existed in a single class. The motto was "For Labor and the Fatherland." The insignia included a red enameled cross with four golden eagles, a silver star with the order&rsquos motto, and a crimson red ribbon. In total, 3,674 persons were decorated with this order.

If using any of Russia Beyond's content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material.

Smolyanki. The concept

The Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens was opened in 1764 by the order of Catherine the Great. It was the first female educational institute in Russia. The project reflected important ideas of the Enlightenment. The Empress hoped that educated girls would help renew the environment in their families and society, soften the cruel morals, and create a “new breed of people.”

The students were taught all the “pleasant to society” talents: foreign languages, etiquette, singing, and playing musical instruments. The girls studied there from six to eighteen years old. The teachers received guarantees from the parents that they would not meet their daughters in person before graduation.

Cycle of portraits Smolyanki in Hall No. 10, Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

The empress was keen on her project and took maternal care of Smolyanki. Catherine wanted to perpetuate the new faces of Russian female intelligentsia. Therefore she requested the famous Russian painter with Ukrainian origins, Dmitry Levitzky to paint the cycle of portraits called Smolyanki. Dmitry Levitzky was a thoughtful artist who made realistic portraits revealing the true colors of the person being portrayed. The Smolyanki portraits answer the main question of the Enlightenment era: What does it mean to be a human?

Boris Godunov (1598 to 1605)

A bodyguard and functionary of Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov became co-regent in 1584, after Ivan's death. He seized the throne in 1598 following the death of Ivan's son Feodor. Boris' seven-year rule adumbrated the Western-looking policies of Peter the Great. He allowed young Russian nobles to seek their education elsewhere in Europe, imported teachers into his empire, and cozied up to the kingdoms of Scandinavia, hoping for peaceful access to the Baltic Sea.

Less progressively, Boris made it illegal for Russian peasants to transfer their allegiance from one noble to another, thus cementing in place a key component of serfdom. After his death, Russia entered the "Time of Troubles," which included famine, civil war between opposing Boyar factions, and open meddling in Russian affairs by the nearby kingdoms of Poland and Sweden.

To ensure that any child born in the harem was fathered by the emperor, males were not allowed to serve the women of the emperor’s harem. The only exceptions to this rule were the eunuchs, men who had been castrated, thus rendering them impotent. Throughout the history of Imperial China, eunuchs have served the imperial family, including as servants in the harem. Far from being mere servants, however, these eunuchs could aspire to positions of power and wealth by involving themselves in the politics of the harem. During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), there was an eye-opening 100,000 eunuchs serving the emperor and his harem.

Chinese Eunuchs were the only males permitted in the harem ( public domain )

Catherine the Great: Brilliant, Inspirational, Ruthless

Perhaps one of the greatest female rulers of all time, Catherine the Great, was one the most cunning, ruthless and efficient leaders in all of Russia. Her reign, while not too long, was exceptionally eventful and she made a name for herself in history as she climbed up the ranks of Russian nobility and eventually made her way to the top, becoming the Empress of Russia.

Her life began as the daughter to a minor German nobility she was born in Stettin, in 1729 to a prince by the name of Christian Augustus. They named their daughter Sophia Augusta and she was raised as a princess, taught all of the formalities and rules that royalty learns. Sophia’s family wasn’t particularly rich and the title of royalty gave them some small ability to gain claim to the throne, but nothing was awaiting them if they didn’t take action.

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Sophia’s mother, Johanna, was an ambitious woman, a gossip and most importantly, an opportunist. She greatly craved power and the spotlight, knowing that it would be possible for her little girl to someday take hold of the throne. Sophia’s feelings on the matter were mutual as well, for her mother imparted a hope that she could someday become the Empress of Russia.

Sophia was invited to spend time with Empress Elizabeth of Russia for some time, where Sophia quickly found a deep desire to become the ruler of Russia by any means necessary. She dedicated herself to learning Russian, focusing on achieving fluency as quickly as possible. She even converted to Russian Orthodoxy, leaving her traditional roots as a Lutheran behind, so that she could identify with the culture of Russia on an authentic basis. This would put a strain on her relationship with her father, who was a devout Lutheran, but she didn’t particularly care. Her eyes were wide with the deep desire to be the true leader of Russia. Upon her conversion to Russian Orthodoxy, she took the new name of Catherine.

At 16 she married a young man by the name of Peter the III, he was a drunkard and a pale man whom she certainly didn’t care for in the least. They had met before when they were younger and she knew that he was weak and not cut out for any kind of leadership capacity, but there was a serious upshot to marrying him: he was a Grand Duke. This meant that he was essentially an heir to the throne and would be Catherine’s ticket to the big leagues. He would hopefully lead her to the success and power that she craved.

Even though she was looking forward to the pleasure of someday being a ruler, her marriage to Peter was a miserable affair. They did not particularly care for each other the relationship was purely one of political benefit. She despised him because he wasn’t a serious man, he was a buffoon and a drunk, who was known to be sleeping around. She spited him greatly and she herself began to take upon some new lovers in the hopes of making him jealous. They didn’t get along well at all.

Despite the frustration, the lies and accusations hurled at one another, they stayed together. After all, the marriage was one of political expediency and not particularly one made out of love. Catherine’s patience paid off in the long run, however as the Empress of Russia, Elizabeth, died in 1762, opening up the throne. Peter was able to make a clean claim to the throne and he succeeded Elizbeth, becoming the new Emperor of Russia. This pleased Catherine because it meant that she was only one heartbeat away from becoming the sole ruler of Russia.

Peter was a weak ruler and he had some odd proclivities. For one, he was an ardent admirer of Prussia and his political views caused alienation and frustration within the local body of nobles. Catherine’s friends and allies were beginning to grow weary of Peter and this was just the opportunity that she needed to seize power to the throne. She put together a plan to stage a coup and force Peter to abdicate the throne, handing power over to herself. She had put up with him long enough and his political weaknesses opened up a great door to his own destruction. Catherine rallied up a big enough force to believe that she would be a worthy owner of the throne, and in 1762, she kicked Peter off of the throne, assembling a small force that arrested him and pressed him into signing control over to her. Catherine had finally achieved her major dream of becoming the Empress of Russia. Interestingly enough, Peter died a few days later in captivity. Some wonder if it was her doing, but there was no evidence to back that up. She certainly did despise the man, however.

Catherine was an exceptionally competent individual. She had spent her whole life preparing for her rule and she wasn’t about to completely waste it by being usurped just like her husband. There had been some level of political pressure to install Catherine’s 7-year-old son, Paul, as the Emperor and she was certainly not about to let that happen. A child could easily be manipulated based on whoever was controlling him, and she was not going to let her reign be threatened by another coup. So, she focused on building up her power as quickly as possible, not sparing a single moment. She increased her strength among her allies, reduced her enemies influence and made sure that the military was on her side.

While Catherine had desired to be a ruler, she certainly had no desire to be a petty or cruel dictator. In her time studying, reading and learning, she had come to understand that there was tremendous value in the concept of the Enlightenment, a political philosophy that at the time embraced knowledge and reason about superstition and faith. Russia at this point in their history, was not particularly well known for being a cultured or educated population. Indeed, the sprawling lands of the Russian world was composed of peasantry who were little more than farmers and a few steps above barbarians. Catherine sought to change the world’s opinion of Russia and set about a plan to become known as a major player on the national stage.

She took on many lovers over her time as the rule of Russia, in fact she was particularly famous for her relationships with these men. Sometimes the relationships were meant to empower her in some capacity, such as her relationship with Grigory Orlov, a man who supported her militarily in her rise to power. Her relationships and liaisons are unfortunately something to speculate, because as is common in history, a great deal of rumors aimed at her sexual promiscuity were unleashed by her rivals. Whether those stories and rumors are true, it is impossible to know, but given the practice at the time to smear that way, it’s possible that most of the tales are simply untrue.

Catherine worked hard to expand Russian territory, working on a military campaign series that would eventually lead her to annexing Crimea. Her original intentions had been to empower and increase the level of freedom of the serfs and ordinary people of Russia, but unfortunately those ideals were thrown by the wayside as it would have caused significant political upheaval amongst the nobility at the time. She had hoped that someday she would be able to help her people in becoming empowered, that every man would be an equal, but unfortunately her desires for the time being were just too far advanced for the culture at the time. Later on, she would end up changing her mind, primarily due to the fact that things like the French Revolution, civil unrest within the country and general fear caused her to realize how dangerous it was to the Aristocracy if everyone were to be made equal. Her policy of freedom was shelved in favor of her longstanding policy of political pragmatism.

The Pamphlets That Claimed To Reveal Marie Antoinette's Secrets

Marie Antoinette's reputation these days is as something of a frivolous idiot caught up in an exceptionally bad situation. At the time of her death, though, a combination of criminality and incompetence had landed her a more sinister reputation.

A group of London blackmailers, it seems, threatened her husband Louis XVI with the publication of pamphlets with all kinds of scurrilous rumors about the Queen, including allegations regarding horrible things like sexual abuse and bestiality. Louis paid them off.

These pamphlets were the source of myth that the queen had said "let them eat cake," but they weren't the first pamphlets to start rumors about her a lot of others had been circulating, alleging that the queen was involved in lesbian trysts or had participated in suspicious activities.

But even after Louis paid the blackmailers, the pamphlets were stored at the Bastille by bureaucrats. When the Bastille was stormed during the Revolution, the publications were found, seized, reprinted, and read avidly by everybody. Alas, Louis had paid the blackmailers in vain.

List of sets

A category containing all sets can be found at Category:Item sets.

What the Royale High Wiki considers a set for documentation purposes may slightly differ from the game due to site style policy. Some items loosely called a set by the game may be considered a "collection" by the wiki policies and not included on this page, but are on the Collections page.

Permanent sets

Sets that are always sold by the shop year round. Also visible at Category:Permanent sets.

How She Became Known as “The Beast of Belsen”

Irma’s tenure at the camp finally came to an end in January 1945 as the Red Army advanced into Poland and neared Auschwitz. When the death factory was abandoned, Hatzinger was assigned to Bergen-Belsen, near Hanover Grese was transferred to Ravensbrück on January 18, 1945, but little is known of her work there until she was again transferred, this time to Bergen-Belsen in March 1945, where the food, housing, and sanitary conditions were abominable.

Bergen-Belsen was in an isolated location in northern Germany, not far from Ravensbrück and Wrechen. It was originally a transit camp but in early 1945 became a dumping ground for prisoners arriving on death marches from camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau to escape the Soviet drive into Poland and eventually into Germany. Josef Kramer, who had served as commander at Auschwitz-Birkenau while Grese was there and had presided over the mass killings, had become the new commandant of Bergen-Belsen in December 1944. (This was the camp to which Anne and Margot Frank were dispatched from Auschwitz-Birkenau in October 1944. Anne Frank died from typhus in March 1945 a few days after her sister, Margot, died Irma was likely at the camp during Anne’s final days.)

It seems that many of Kramer’s and Grese’s former prisoners involuntarily followed them to Belsen. Kitty Hart, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Belsen and the author of Return to Auschwitz, recalls that when she arrived at Belsen from Birkenau via a truck convoy, “the old gang—Kramer, Grese and the rest of them––must have been sent there from Auschwitz. We knew what to expect from such creatures.”

A group of female SS guards (Aufseherinnen) photographed on parade at Bergen-Belsen in 1945.

Grese’s cruelty toward inmates became even worse in Belsen. There, Grese was known to make prisoners kneel for long periods of time. Prisoners also had to hold heavy rocks over their heads during long roll calls. They were also often forced to stand for hours in snow, ice, and rain from 3:00 am to 9:00 am. If someone did not stand up straight, she would beat the prisoner with a rubber truncheon until the prisoner was unconscious. She also greatly increased the death counts by ordering selection parades as she had in Birkenau.

She is also known to have knocked together the heads of two sisters upon the eve of liberation when she caught them trying to eat potato peel scraps by the camp kitchen. She set this trap herself in order to catch someone hungry enough to dare try to eat the potato peels. This is per the account of an anonymous survivor who was one of those sisters.

Even though she worked at the camp for only three and a half weeks, she was so cruel that the prisoners dubbed her “The Beast of Belsen.”

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Best Generals in the Napoleonic Wars

Napoleon Bonaparte is considered by many people to be the best military strategist of all time. However, he was not the only one who performed great feats during the Napoleonic Wars. Excepting Wellington, Jean Lannes, Michel Ney, and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher might have been the best of the rest. They fought with all their might for their homeland and never feared death. The three men received many honors for their service to their countries.

Napoleon Bonaparte and his staff

Jean Lannes – The Brother Napoleon Never Had

Lannes was born in Lectoure, France, on April 10, 1769. A humble farmer’s son, he nevertheless reached the rank of Marshal of the French Empire in 1804. Lannes was one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s most brilliant subordinates and also his personal friend. By showing great bravery and courage in the campaigns of Italy, Austria, and Prussia, he earned the titles of Duke of Montebello and Prince of Sievers, both granted by Bonaparte himself.

He began his military career after the outbreak of the French Revolution, enlisting in 1792 with the 2nd battalion of volunteers of Gers. He obtained the rank of second lieutenant.

Jean Lannes

The Battle of the Bridge of Arcole

In the fighting which occurred between November 15 and 17, 1796, Lannes received two bullet wounds that forced him to retreat. However, he decided to return to help Bonaparte, who was in trouble while trying to withdraw after the Austrian counterattack.

Lannes launched his troops against the enemy and was wounded again, but managed to push them beyond the bridge. Thanks to Lannes’s actions, Bonaparte was able to escape with his life. From that day, a special friendship emerged between Bonaparte and Lannes. The following year, in recognition of his performance, Bonaparte named him General of Brigade.

The Battle of the Bridge of Arcole.

The conquest of Zaragoza

Lannes led the French army to victory during the conquest of Zaragoza. On this occasion, instead of expensive bayonet attacks, Lannes decided to use artillery and mines to destroy the resistance points one by one.

His tactics worked, despite the casualties incurred. His men constantly had to protect themselves from ambushes and attacks from the windows of the houses. Even so, Lannes managed to seize the neighborhoods and the city surrendered on February 21, 1809

The surrender of Zaragoza

The Last Battle of Jean Lannes – I am Wounded It’s Nothing Much

On May 22, 1809, during the second day of the Battle of Aspern-Essling, a cannonball hit General Pouzet’s head, decapitating him. Pouzet was a personal friend of Lannes, who had introduced him to military life and taught him tactical knowledge. Shocked by what happened, Lannes sat on the edge of a trench and another cannonball hit his legs. He exclaimed that it was nothing, but was unable to get up with help.

The damage caused by the cannonball made it necessary to amputate his left leg. Unfortunately, he suffered from gangrene that ultimately caused his death. Bonaparte cried at Lanne’s death as if his own brother had just died.

Tomb of Lannes in the Panthéon, Paris. Photo: I, Triboulet / CC-BY-SA 2.5

For his merits, Jean Lannes was exhumed and buried with a great ceremony at the Panthéon of Paris on July 6, 1810.

Marshal Michel Ney – The Bravest of the Brave

Michel Ney, Duke of Elchingen, was born on January 10, 1769, in Sarrelouis, France. He was known as the bravest of the brave, “Le Brave des braves” for his great feats, a nickname which was given to him by Napoleon himself.

Marshal Ney leading the cavalry charge at Waterloo, from Louis Dumoulin’s Panorama of the Battle of Waterloo

A Perfect Soldier

Ney joined the 5th Army of the Hussars in 1787. From the beginning, he exhibited outstanding bravery and generosity. He was a supportive soldier with a great capacity for understanding what to do in battlefield scenarios. He reached the rank of Marshal of the Empire in Napoleon’s France, on May 19, 1804. From then on, Marshal Ney was at the head of the “Grande Armèe“.

Ney at the battle of Kaunas in 1812

The Last Frenchman on Russian Soil

The greatest demonstration of his courage and bravery was in the campaign of Russia, during the occupation of Moscow. The city was burned by the Russians themselves, which left the French with no food supply or shelter in the middle of winter. Napoleon was forced to retreat, entrusting Marshal Ney with the rearguard. When the rearguard was attacked by Russian troops, Ney’s men fled, leaving him alone and exposed to the fire of the Russian artillery.

Marshal Ney, with courage, ingenuity, and improvisation managed to delay the assault of the Cossacks, allowing the withdrawal of most of the army. For hours, Ney was untraceable until he appeared before the Emperor, informing him that he had been the last French soldier to cross the crucial bridge of Kovno. Napoleon immortalized the moment with his phrase: “France is full of brave men, but certainly Ney is the bravest of the brave.” The meeting between them was celebrated as a victory.

Marshal Ney at the Battle of Eylau

The Last Battle of Marshal Ney

Waterloo meant the end of Napoleon. During this battle, perhaps through an act of despair or due to an excess of courage, Marshal Ney decided to attack the English formations with cavalry. It was complete suicide since Napoleon could not assist him with any infantry forces. Instead, the brave French horsemen died in front of well-organized British infantry. By the end of the day, the French army was completely overwhelmed.

Marshal Ney was judged and sentenced to death for treason against the King. He could have appealed the sentence thanks to his Prussian nationality, but he remained firm, claiming: “I am French and I will remain French.” His execution was carried out by a firing squad in Paris on December 7, 1815. His name was written in the Arc de Triomphe of Paris next to the great marshals of Napoleon.

The Emperor is depicted giving instructions to general Nicolas Oudinot. Between them is depicted general Etienne de Nansouty and behind the Emperor, on his right is marshal Michel Ney, duke of Elchingen

Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher – “Marshal Forward”

For his achievements in the Napoleonic wars, Blücher was named Prince of Wahlstatt. He was also decorated with the Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross, the highest military decoration of the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire, also known as “Blücher’s Star” (Blücherstern). Only two men have received this decoration, with Blücher being the first. However, controversy surrounds him: for some, he was a great marshal, but according to for others, he was one of the worst of his time.

Smart but impulsive, Blücher lacked the coldness to be a military genius, but he compensated for it with his great determination on the battlefield. He could always be found on the frontline, sabre in hand. He had a great affection for his troops who admired him. However, he was not so well regarded by his comrades in command or his superiors due to his vices of drinking, gambling, and women.

His orders were invariably to advance and continue advancing towards the enemy. It was this aggressive tactic which earned him the nickname of Marschall Vorwärts (“Marshal Forward”), but he nevertheless played an important role in the outcome of the Napoleonic wars.

Blücher (as he appeared ca. 1815–1819)

The Darkest Episodes of Blücher

Much of the controversy about whether Blücher deserves to be considered a good marshal is due to his behavior. Having lived through one of the darkest episodes of his life, Blücher entered a phase of deep depression, alcoholism, and episodes of schizophrenia. Sometimes he believed that he had become pregnant by an elephant, at other times he struggled against imaginary enemies. He also believed that his servants were warming the floor of his rooms to burn his feet.

Marschall Vorwärts by Emil Hünten (1863)

A Wise Decision that Sealed the Fate of Napoleon

On June 16, 1815, in Ligny, Belgium, the army of Blücher suffered a severe defeat at the hands of Napoleon himself, which was to be the Emperor’s last victory. The old marshal was wounded and nearly captured. In light of this, the Prussians withdrew with the intention of meeting with Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington.

After the defeat, the arguments between the Prussian generals lasted until dawn. Blücher decided to aid Wellington and marched from Wavr to Waterloo. Correspondence was sent between the Prussians and the English, so Wellington would be sure that the Prussian army would help him. Wellington gave the order to retreat to Waterloo and resist a few kilometers from the Hougoumont farm.

To prevent this alliance, Napoleon sent Marshal Emmanuel de Grouchy to pursue the Prussians. Grouchy was unsuccessful and Blücher continued to march inexorably towards the Waterloo battlefield.

Prussian Prince Blücher hors de combat towards the end of the battle when his horse was killed under him. The man on foot next to him is Count Nostitz-Rieneck

Battle of Waterloo – the Timely Participation of Blücher

Wellington’s army was defending its position in the Hougoumont farm as best as it could against the fearsome French artillery. In the afternoon, the French noticed an army approaching their right flank. They thought it was Grouchy’s army, but in fact, it was the 30,000 Prussians under Blücher’s command.

Confusion and fear spread among the French at the sight of Blücher’s men. Despite the initial success of the French Imperial Guard, the French army ended up backing down — something they had never done before. For the first time in this battle, the British took the initiative and advanced, with the help of the Prussians. At this point, the battle turned in favour of the allies. Blücher had appeared at the most opportune moment and now his men pursued the French until nightfall.

Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher at the Battle of Waterloo by Carl Röchling.

Marshal Forward – Forever

In 1815, Blücher had been 72 years old. Even though he had been wounded in Ligny after his horse fell on him, that didn’t stop him being in the middle of the action two days later in Waterloo. It was undoubtedly spectacular and inspiring for his troops to see a man of his age carrying out his duties with such energy.

After the Napoleonic wars, Blücher returned to his Silesian lands and finally retired. He died on his farm near Wroclaw (present-day Poland) on September 12, 1819, close to turning 77 years old.

Watch the video: Η καλλονή Ρωσίδα που έκανε το κοινό των Χειμερινών Ολυμπιακών να..παραληρεί (June 2022).


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