1798: Napoleon’s Marshal who Conquered Papal Rome

1798: Napoleon’s Marshal who Conquered Papal Rome
Photo Credit To http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9e/Maréchal_Louis-Alexandre_Berthier.jpg

Marshal Berthier was one of the most important of Napoleon’s associates. Bonaparte awarded him the titles of Prince of Wagram, Sovereign Prince of Neuchâtel, and Duke of Valangin, he also received the grand collar of the Legion of Honor.

On this day in 1798 the French commander Louis Alexandre Berthier conquered the city of Rome, the center of the Papal States. It was a harsh blow for Pope Pius VI because he soon found himself in French captivity. Popes ruled central Italy as their own country for centuries, having both spiritual and secular power. The French conquest, however, stripped the pope of his secular power over that part of Italy.

Powerful Berthier was one of the most important of Napoleon’s marshals. He is known for performing the function of General-in-Chief. He was quite possibly one of the most deserving individuals for Bonaparte’s tremendous victories, because he knew how to intelligently and thoroughly carry out Napoleon’s ingenious plans. Indeed, Bonaparte awarded him nicely for that. In fact, out of all Napoleon’s marshals, Berthier was given the highest honors (not counting Marshal Murat, who was also associated with Napoleon trough family ties).

Marshal Berthier was the oldest of Bonaparte’s real marshals. Namely, he was 16 years older than Napoleon, and because of that had a large military experience. Interestingly enough, Berthier even fought in the Continental Army as a young man during the American War of Independence. The French provided critical help to the Americans in the war in order to win their independence from the British. It is also important that Berthier participated in a transaction that led to the United States acquisition of the vast territory of Louisiana in North America.

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