Andre Massena, Duc de Rivoli, Prince d'Essling (1758-1817)

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Andre Massena was a rare commander that despite his great passion for lechery and greed still commands respect for his ability. He took the pursuit of gold and women very seriously and regarded the world with unrivalled cynicism. This merciless realism stood him in good stead on the battlefield, with a bold yet not rash style of command both while on the attack and defense,it took the ability of Wellington to destroy his military reputation. Born in Nice in 1758, he enlisted in 1775 becoming a Marshall in May 1804, after a brief spell as a smuggler. He commanded IV Corps of the Grande Armee at Landshut, Eggmuhl (1809), Aspern-Essling and Wagram (1809). He became Prince of Essling in 1810 and was appointed commander of the Armee de Portugal (Peninsular War). He led his army at Almeida and Bussaco and finally was halted at the lines of Torres Vedras. He was forced to retreat back into Spain (taking with him the mistress who travelled with him dressed as a male soldier) and in May 1811 fought the bloody battle of Fuentes de Onoro, to no avail. He was recalled to France in disgrace and Napoleon never forgave him his failure. When Napoleon returned from exile during the Hundred Days campaign Massena refused to commit to either side devoting his remaining time to his main hobbies of making money and women he died on 4th April 1817 at the age of 59.

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How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T. (29 January 2001), Andre Massena, Duc de Rivoli, Prince d'Essling, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_massena.html

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