NAPOLEON I -- MARSHALS OF THE EMPIRE. A collection of 25 documents signed by Napoleon's marshals (including all except Lannes), comprising:
Joseph PONIATOWSKI. Letter signed, Warsaw, 28 September 1810, to one Madame Jourdain, declining to oblige Captain Rusiecki to make provision for her illegitimate children fathered by him, as he has since married in Poland, one page, folio;
Alexandre BERTHIER. Letter signed ('Alexandre') to Lannes, Valladolid, 17 January 1809, 'les evenements politiques ont decidé l'Empereur a partir pour Paris' and making the necessary dispositions for affairs in Spain in his absence, 2½ pages, 4to;
and documents with the signature of Bessières (to Berthier, 1807, informing him that Mortier has found a company of Pomeranian guides worthy of inclusion in the Guard), Murat (signed 'Joachim', 1808), Soult (1813, as 'duc de Dalmatie'), Davout (1811, as 'Prince d'Eckmühl'), Lefebvre (1806, on behalf of a military widow), Suchet (as 'Duc D'Albufera', 1812), Bernadotte (as commander of the army of Hanover, 24 July 1805), Ney (24 July 1805), MacDonald (1801), Jourdan (1802, asking leave for a fusilier to look after his elderly mother), Oudinot (Army of Switzerland, 1799, a receipt for hay for horses), Brune (1796), Pérignon (1800), Marmont (1803), Masséna (Zurich, 1799), Augereau (n.d.), Gouvion St Cyr (1815, claiming a pension), Kellermann (1807, with an autograph subscription), Sérurier (1809), Moncey (1807), Victor (1810), Mortier (1807) and Grouchy (1829), with a letter by Madame Ney (1830), 26 items in total.
Napoleon instituted the rank of Marshal of the Empire in 1804 as part of his construction of a system of honours (it was not strictly a military rank). The 26 marshals he created between 1804 and 1815 were a fabulously varied group, of widely differing backgrounds (Brune was a journalist, Lannes an apprentice dyer) and abilities. Their fates were just as varied: some fell from grace or lost their lives at Napoleon's fall; Bernadotte, by contrast, went on to be King of Sweden and Norway as Charles XIV John. (26)