- historical event: Marshal Soult had the nicknames “Iron Hand” and “Iron Marshal”. The title of Duke was the highest rank of nobility in Napoleon's Empire, except for the title of France. His descendants still claim the right to the title.
Marshal Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult – bearer of the high title of Duke of Dalmatia (French: Duc de Dalmatie) died on this day in 1851. This title was given to him by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, after the French gained control of Dalmatia, which was taken away from the Austrian Empire.
Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult was a professional soldier. His surname was Soult, while Nicolas and Jean de Dieu were his given names (John of God was a saint known for founding an order dedicated to taking care of the sick). Napoleon rewarded Soult’s skills as a commander as early as 1804, when he made him a marshal. Soult was one of Napoleon’s first marshals, together with the famous Lannes, Ney, Davout, and Massena. Napoleon had a total of 26 marshals, incidentally exactly the same number as Hitler.
Marshal Soult received an even greater award in 1808, when he was named the Duke of Dalmatia. The title of Duke was the highest rank of nobility in Napoleon’s Empire, except for the title of France. Despite the fact that Dalmatia was a large province, Soult himself was unhappy with the title because he had expected to be made the Duke of Austerlitz, named after the site of one of Napoleon’s greatest victories. The so-called “victor’s titles” were at that time held in greater esteem than titles named after provinces. Other such titles include Massena’s title Duke of Rivoli, Ney’s title of Prince of Moscow, and Bethier’s title Prince of Wagram.
After the fall of Napoleon, Marshal Soult passed to the side of the royalists and became an influential politician during the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty. He later became the defense minister and even the French prime minister. King Louis Philip gave him an even higher rank, that of the Marshal General of France (French: Maréchal-général). Only five other men in history have managed to achieve that rank.
Marshal Soult had the nicknames “Iron Hand” and “Iron Marshal”. His descendants still claim the right to the title Duke of Dalmatia.