Joachim Murat (1767-1815), Grand Duke of Cleves and Berg/King of Naples
The son of an innkeeper, Joachim Murat joined a cavalry regiment at 19 and by 1795 had risen to the rank of captain. A key figure in the events of 13 Vendemiaire, he later joined Bonaparte in Italy, serving as aide-de-camp and quickly establishing a reputation for bravery. He took part in the Egyptian Campaign and played a key role in the coup of 18 Brumaire, leading a body of grenadiers into the meeting of the Five Hundred and giving the order to oust the peoples’ deputies. He would be repaid with many honors, including the hand in marriage of Napoleon’s sister, Caroline. In 1808 he was placed in charge of French forces in Spain and was responsible for the brutal repression of the insurrection of 2 May in Madrid. Though his accession to the throne of Naples would strain his relations with Napoleon, he answered the Emperor’s call during the Russian Campaign and commanded the army’s vanguard upon its entry into Moscow. Following Napoleon’s return from exile, Murat marched on Bologna in support, but the action proved premature. Arrested and sentenced to death, in a final act of bravado he gave the orders to his own firing squad.