NAPOLEON I (1769-1821). Emperor of the French. Manuscript Document Signed ("Bonaparte"), countersigned by the Minister of War and Secretary of State, papered embossed Seal. Paris: 24 Nivose An 12 [15 January 1804].

$ 5,400.00

Vellum (17 4/8 x 13 6/8 inches) with engraved vignette at the head of the document depicting Liberty seated with the legend "au nom du peuple francais," printed "Republique Française, Département de la Guerre" heading, countersigned by Louis-Alexandre Berthier, prince de Neuchatel et de Wagram (1753-1815) as Minister of War and Hugues-Bernard Maret, duc de Bassano (1763-1839) as Secretary of State (horizontal and vertical folds). Bonaparte as Consul of the Republic appoints Joachim Murat (1767-1815) the governor of the city of Paris, and commander of the garrison and first military division.

Murat, one of Napoleon's first aides-de-camp, had married Napoleon's sister in January of 1800. "As governor of Paris in 1804, he was included among the first generals promoted to the rank of marshal after Napoleon's coronation as emperor on December 2. In 1805 he played a conspicuous role in the Austerlitz campaign, helping to pin the Austrian Army in Ulm, where it was forced to surrender, and defeating Austrian and Russian cavalry on the field of Austerlitz. At Jena in 1806 his energetic pursuit completed destruction of the Prussian Army, and at Eylau in 1807 his headlong charge saved a desperate tactical situation. Rewarded with the title of grand duke of Berg and Clèves, Murat began to have dreams of sovereignty, and when he was sent to act as Napoleon's lieutenant in Spain he tried to gain possession of the unoccupied Spanish throne. His intrigues led instead to Spanish opposition and a rising in Madrid that, though quelled (May 2, 1808), ended his hopes. Though Napoleon gave the Spanish throne to his brother Joseph, he rewarded Murat with Joseph's former place as king of Naples, under the name Joachim-Napoléon (or Gioacchino-Napoleone, in Italian)" (Encyclopedia Britannica online).

1804 was an important year for Napoleon, he was crowned Emporer of France by Pope Pius VII in December, and much of the year was taken with routing out opposition, promoting his friends and family to positions of power, and planning the coronation. Berthier was the son of an ennobled court works surveyor, and gained military experience in the American Revolution, serving with Lafayette. Napoleon "esteemed him highly as chief of staff of the Grande Armée from 1805. Responsible for the operation of Napoleon's armies, he was called by the Emperor 'the man who has served me longest and has never failed me'" (Encyclopedia Britannica online). Maret was a journalist in the early stages of the French Revolution, but after the coup d'état of 18 Brumaire (Nov. 9, 1799), Napoleon appointed him secretary of state to the consuls. He "grew in Napoleon's esteem and acted as his confidential adviser. From April 1811 to November 1813, Maret served as minister of foreign affairs; he concluded the treaties with Prussia (February 1812) and with Austria (March 1812) that preceded the French invasion of Russia. In 1815 he helped arrange Napoleon's return from Elba" (Encyclopedia Britannica online). Catalogued by Kate Hunter