Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Defenestration of Jean-Andoche Junot

Jean-Andoche Junot, 1st Duke of Abrantès (Bussy-le-Grand, France, 24th September 1771 – Montbard, France, 29th July 1813) 


Jean Andoche Junot by Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux
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.

11 comments:

  1. Was this the result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from long service in the military. General Picton who died at Waterloo leading his troops in a counter attack on the French was certainly suffering from combat fatigue.e. He had a premonition of his death in battle and is reported to have jumped into a newly dug grave to try it for size before going to Belgium in 1815.
    Given the length of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars it would not be surprising if many men suffered from the stress and fatigue of battle.

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    1. I would hazard a guess that it was PTSD; such a tragic end.

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  2. What a sad end to an obviously brave soldier. I wrote a bit about Marshal MacDonald of France on my own blog recently and the things these guys saw in the Napoleonic Wars were absolutely horrendous.

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    1. They were, it's hardly surprising that some of them found it hard to deal with. I can't imagine what he must have been going through.

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  3. What a horrific end. His mind must have been filled with demons.

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  4. So tragic. I suspect many wished they had been killed in battle alongside comrades!

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    1. The torment must have seemed overwhelming, I think.

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  5. Poor junot always one of my favourite people from the era

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  6. He suffered a bad head wound early in his career in Italy at the Battle of Lonato and this was said to have changed his character and behaviour, add to that his obsessive craving for a Marshal's Baton (that never came) and PTSD his demise was very sad.

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