|Jean Andoche Junot by Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux|
We have met a few Napoleonic generals here at the salon and learnt of both defeats and victories, even the famed exile of the emperor himself. Today we mark the death of a celebrated member of Napoleon's forces, and a man who died at his own hand whilst grappling with a deep and consuming depression.
Jean-Andoche Junot, 1st Duke of Abrantès had known great successes in the service of Napoleon. However, his victories were to end in a bitter defeat when he fell into Wellington's hands and even after his return to France, a high profile defeat in Smolensk in 1812 saw his reputation decline even further. Still keen to keep Junot in his service, Napoleon sent him to take up the position of Governor of the Illyrian Provinces but the Duke's behaviour became so bizarre that his father travelled to bring his son home to Montbard.
Here Junot did not improve and in the summer of 1813 he left a formal ball and, still dressed in his military uniform, leaped from a window in an attempt to commit suicide. However, the unfortunate Duke survived with a broken leg, which he determined should be amputated. Taking up a kitchen knife he attempted to carry out the operation himself, with as little success as his suicide attempt. Gangrene set into the wound and the Duke of Abrantès never recovered his wits nor his health, dying as a result of the infection on 29th July 1813.