In the first instalment of a new feature on The Napoleonicist, Rachael Stark offers a blisteringly brilliant run down of the life, talents, achievements and controversies of Davout - widely regarded as one of, if not THE finest of Napoleon's marshals, and a man of integrity to boot.
Twitter: @zwhitehistory | @Bookish_Rachael
A new podcast, this time about Davout, more or less in my view just a primer which leaves a lot of open questions. In my view Davout stays to be an enigma, he never could show his opertional art of war commanding multi corps units. In the end he stays to be a strange person being involved in endless feuds against his peers.
Unfortunately we have AuerstAdt again and again a complete lack of understanding about the battle and AuerstEdt in general showing the usual entrenched well trodden and in my view wrong perspective of Napoleonic mythology.
Another question I have on this podcast (listening to it a second time) and that I forgot to ask the first time around: It is mentioned towards the end of the episode that Davout signed a treaty "with the returning Bourbons" before surrendering Paris in 1815. Is this another event than the "Convention of Saint-Cloud" that he negotiated with Wellington and Blücher? Because I understand the reason Ney could not refer to the Convention of Saint-Cloud in order to save his life was precisely the fact that the Bourbons were not included in it, so they were free to do as they pleased (or as they were told to do behind the scenes by the allied powers). I have read the Duke of Wellington himself immediately stated that this had been a mere military convention that did not affect the Bourbon king in any way. So was there a second, political convention, too? And why would Davout, as mere minister of war, negotiate that, not the French senate?
So I've just listened to this episode and thought maybe I could add something to Davout's rather surprising nomination as a marshal in 1804:
You don't want to hear it, I don't want to say it, but so glad to have you on the team, man.
The original can be found here:
Correspondance du Maréchal Davout
Apparently there were some people who did appreciate Davout's nomination at the time.
A series on the marshals is quite aspirational, perhaps a big bite hard to chew. But first results are entertaining and enlightening.
And thought provoking.
What makes a marshal great? Is it only the military/combat performance, with a pile of victories being the road to greatness or brilliance? Or wasn't there something more to the job of fulfilling the civic and symbolic roles for France? As public figures are they not judged for their looks, dress and theatrics? Does character count for anything?
Is the degree of loyalty to Napoleon a factor? Is ditching the emperor grounds for falling out of greatness? Conversely, is it possible to have stuck with Napoleon too long to merit being called "best"?
So you don't subscribe to the characterization of this particular podcast on Davout as "blisteringly brilliant?" Nor did I. If it's the first installment of 26--and I sincerely hope not!--then I'd recommend ignoring them and watching the Epic History YouTube videos instead. At least there you get cool music and neat graphics to go with your MarshalsLite information.