Emperor's Friend

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An examination of the life of Marshal Jean Lannes, this study looks at the career of the only soldier of any rank who consistently said exactly what he thought to Napoleon at every stage of their amazing careers. The marshal not only survived these frank encounters, he was well rewarded for his abilities, which were remarkable even among the stellar senior officers who served the Emperor. While Lannes was best known for his military skill, especially as an advance-guard commander, his unconventional three-year diplomatic career was equally noteworthy, since his diplomatic tactics resulted in particular benefits for France. His career spanned much of what many historians and readers believe to be one of the most fascinating and controversial eras in French history.

The marshal's personality and his tendency to lead by example rather than by orders won him the respect and the affection of his troops. He also charmed a diverse number of his contemporaries, from autocratic rulers to literary icons. Although his relationship with Napoleon was stormy at times, he earned and kept the Emperor's friendship and esteem. Chrisawn avoids the tendency of previous biographers to either canonize or condemn the marshal, providing instead a balanced treatment of her subject which includes both his strengths and his shortcomings. Marshal Jean Lannes emerges as a complete person within the context of his own intriguing world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"What if the person about whom you are writing is too one dimensional, and the individual exhibits a consistent and relatively simple pattern of conduct throughout life? In such a study, establishing the relevancy of the individual is more difficult in many ways. On one level, that is the dilemma faced by Margaret Scott Chrisawn in her study of, arguably, Napoleon's best subordinate tactical commander in The Emperor's Friend: Marshal Jean Lannes. That she succeeds so admirably in her endeavor is a tribute not only to her research skills, but also to her ability to portray her findings to the reader in a lucid and captivating manner. . . . This is an excellent book and should seve as the foundation for any secondary research on Jean Lannes for the Foreseeble future."


Army History

"A lively account of one of the greatest of Napoleon's marshals, the salty, uncouth, and poorly educated Gascon Lannes, one of the few senior French officers who was unimpressed by the Emperor's dignity. The book encompasses both Lannes's private life and his military career in considerable detail. The notes are clear, include many valuable additional, details, insights, and information."


NYMAS Newsletter

"This valuable and useful book is not for the general reader, but rather for the Napoleonic military scholar, and perhaps the serious and informed Napoleonic military buff as well. It deserves shelf space in any university or good college library whose curriculum devotes more than a passing attention to Napoleon and the Napoleonic era."


History: Review of New Books

"[A] welcome addition to Napoleonic scholarship. Chrisawn brings a lively, conversational style to her subject, drawing on extensive research to assemble a straightforward chronicle of the marshal's life. Dr. Chrisawn has provided a useful introduction to Lannes's life for the general military historian, accompanied by good maps and excellent source notes for future research."


The Journal of Military History

In this biography of the successor to the swashbuckling hero d'Artagnan of Dumas' , Chrisawn (history, Tallahassee Community College) chronicles the military and amorous exploits of Jean Lannes. Born the same year (1769) as Napoleon, his future commander-in-chief, Lannes participated in battles from the Pyrenees to Egypt as shown in 46 maps specifically drawn for this volume, as well as "developing his role as wounded hero into an art form." As part of her onsite research, the author undoubtedly viewed the legendary Marshal's statue in Gascony. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

MARGARET SCOTT CHRISAWN is adjunct Professor of History at Tallahassee Community College and a member of the senior management with the Florida Department of Corrections.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: D'Artagnan's Successor, 1769-1792
1 The Dyer's Apprentice at War and in Love: L'Armee des Pyrenees-orientales, 1793-1795 1
2 Friends in High Places: L'Armee d'Italie, 1795-1797 15
3 Crocodiles Fighting in the Reeds: L'Armee d'Orient, 1798-1799 39
4 Following Hannibal and Caesar: L'Armee de Reserve, 1800 63
5 A Military Bull in a Diplomatic China Shop: Lisbon, 1802-1804 87
6 The Sun and a Few Stars: Austerlitz, 1805 103
7 Revanche on a Grand Scale: Jena, 1806 133
8 Advance-guard Extraordinaire: Friedland, 1807 157
9 The Dogs of War: The Second Siege of Saragossa, 1808-1809 187
10 Until the Last One's Gone: Essling, 1809 213
Conclusion: Le Chevalier sans peur et sans reproche 247
Index 253
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2000

    At Last, a biography of Marshal Lannes

    I've read this in its original dissertation form and thoroughly enjoyed it. The book version is apparently greatly enhanced, therefore should be even better. Chrisawn knows how to tell a good story and a lot of archival research went into the writing of the volume. Along with Marshal Davout, Lannes was among the 'hard-fightingest' of Napoleon's marshals and a favorite among enthusiasts. Besides the military aspects of Lannes career I found his brief foray into the diplomatic service in Portugal particularly interesting. He was indeed a 'bull in a china shop.' Anyone with an interest in the era or in military history should read this book. This biography of Marshal Lannes is long overdue.

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