Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult

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Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult
Signature Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult.PNG

Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult , Duke of Dalmatia , (born March 29, 1769 in Saint-Amans-La-Bastide, today Saint-Amans-Soult , Département Tarn ; † November 26, 1851 ibid) was a French revolutionary general, marshal des Empire Napoléon , twice French minister of war as well as seventh and thus last Maréchal général des camps et armées du roi (German roughly: General Marshal) in the history of France .


Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult was the son of Jean Soult (1726–1779) and came from a long-established family of glassmakers . He still had six siblings. In 1785 he joined the Royal Regiment as an infantryman . In 1787 he briefly left the army.

After the French Revolution of 1789 he soon made a career as he distinguished himself under General Custine and General Hoche . At the end of January 1792, Brigadier Soult was sent to the 1st Battalion of the Haut-Rhin volunteers as an officier instructeur (instructor officer) , who were assigned to General Kellermann's corps . In July 1792 Soult was appointed deputy battalion commander and in November 1793 his battalion was assigned to the Rhine Army under General Jourdan .

In 1794 he was promoted to Général de brigade and fought on the Rhine and Main. On June 4, 1796 he was the victor in the battle of Altenkirchen . In 1799 he commanded a brigade in the avant-garde under Lefebvre in the Danube Army and earned promotion to Général de division at the Battle of Stockach on March 25th. Then he was transferred to Switzerland under General Masséna , where he successfully subjugated the stubborn cantons, attacked the Austrians and pursued the remnants of the Russian army .

In 1800 he took command of the right wing of the Italian army under Masséna's high command , but was seriously wounded and captured on May 13, 1800 in a sortie from Genoa on Monte Creto . After the Battle of Marengo on June 14th, he was set free again, and Napoléon gave him the job of calming Piedmont . In 1802 he was appointed Colonel General of the Consular Guard and from 1803 to 1805 commanded the troops in the camp of Boulogne intended for the invasion of England. At Napoleon's accession to the throne, he was appointed Maréchal d'Empire on May 19, 1804 .


In the following campaigns he led the 4th Army Corps, took part in the Battle of Austerlitz on December 2, 1805, also in the Battle of Jena and Auerstedt on October 14, 1806 and in Preussisch Eylau on February 8, 1807. June 1807 he conquered Königsberg . After the Peace of Tilsit , he was made Duke of Dalmatia in 1808.

In 1808 he accompanied Napoleon on the Spanish campaign , where he was given command of the central army. He was victorious in the Battle of La Coruña on January 16, 1809 against the British troops under General John Moore and in the Battle of Braga on March 20, 1809 against the Portuguese and drove the Anglo-Portuguese army back to Porto. After the First Battle of Oporto on March 28, 1809, which was also victorious for him , he was able to occupy the city of Porto on the following day. On May 12, 1809 he suffered a defeat against Wellington in the Second Battle of Oporto . Appointed Chief of Staff of the Army in Spain in lieu of Jourdan's position, he defeated the Spanish Army at the Battle of Ocaña on November 19, 1809 , then took Seville in 1810 and drove the Spanish back to Cádiz. In 1810 he also became governor of Andalusia. On March 11, 1811, he captured Badajoz and on May 16, delivered the battle of La Albuera to the English and Portuguese . His disagreement with King Joseph Bonaparte led him to demand his resignation in 1813.

In 1813 he took over command of the guard infantry in the battle of Großgörschen in Bessières ' place and contributed greatly to the victory in the battle of Bautzen . But he was sent back to Bayonne to prevent Wellington from advancing further. He invaded Spain again at the end of July, but was repulsed at Cubiry on July 27 with great loss. A second attempt to advance in late August resulted in his defeat at Irun and his retreat to Bayonne. Although he lost the battle of Orthez on February 27, 1814 , he delivered Wellington on April 10 with barely 20,000 men the battle of Toulouse . He then vacated Toulouse and, while at the same time submitting himself to the King of France, concluded an armistice. He was by Louis XVIII. as governor of the 13th Military Division, on December 3, 1814 appointed Minister of War in place of General Dupont . When Napoleon landed at Fréjus on March 1 , he called Napoleon "a usurper" and "an adventurer" and retired to an estate near Saint-Cloud , only appeared after Napoleon after repeated requests and took over the position of chief of staff on May 11 . He found himself at Napoleon's side in the battles of Ligny and Waterloo , and when he left the army in Laon, he took over the command of the same and directed the retreat to Soissons.

Exiled from France by royal decree of January 12, 1816, he went to Düsseldorf . In 1819 he received permission to return and was again listed among the marshals in 1821 and made Peer of France in 1827 . In December 1831 he suppressed the uprising of the silk weavers in Lyon .

Minister of War Soult in a caricature by Honoré Daumier , 1832
Château de Soult-Berg in St. Amans

Appointed Minister of War by King Louis-Philippe I on November 18, 1830, he held his post for almost four years (until 1834), was also appointed President of the Cabinet in May 1832 and remained so with interruptions until 1847. In May 1839 After Molé's fall, he took over again the presidium in the cabinet at the same time as the portfolio of foreign affairs, but this liberal ministry failed in January 1840 because of the question of funding. After Thiers' resignation, Soult was persuaded to take over the portfolio of war and the presidency again on October 29, 1840, but resigned the former in 1846 and the latter in 1847 and was appointed Maréchal général des camps et armées du roi .

Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult died on November 26, 1851 in his castle in St. Amans and rests there in a chapel attached to the church of Saint-Amans-Soult.

His valuable collection of paintings, which he had stolen from the Spanish campaigns, brought in almost 15 million francs at auction. He was considered one of the best tacticians among Napoleon's generals. The Marshal's memoir, written in 1816, was edited by his son.


Soult had been married to Louise Johanna Elisabeth Berg from Solingen since 1796 , the daughter of a local merchant. Between 1815 and June 1819 they lived in Wuppertal- Barmen with their mother-in-law Wilhelmine Berg and in Düsseldorf, but were then able to return to their Paris palace.

His son Hector (Napoléon) de Soult, 2nd Duke of Dalmatia (born September 18, 1802, † December 31, 1857), graduated from the Royal Gymnasium in Düsseldorf (today's Görres-Gymnasium ), where he gave the Latin farewell speech High school graduates were allowed to hold. He served on the General Staff during the Restoration and entered the diplomatic career in 1830. He was first the French ambassador to the Netherlands , then to Turin . From 1844 he held the same position in Berlin . Before the February Revolution, a member of the Second Chamber, he entered the legislature in 1850 and championed the Orléanist cause . After the coup d'état of December 2, 1851, he retired into private life and died on December 31, 1857.

His daughter (Joséphine Louise) Hortense (born August 31, 1804) loved music and dance. In 1822 she married Count Jules de Mornay, an officer in the royal cavalry. His second daughter (Maria Louise) Caroline Leonie de Soult (* January 27, 1817 - September 25, 1817) rests in the Golzheimer Friedhof in Düsseldorf.

His brother, Pierre Benoît Soult (* July 20, 1770 in Saint-Amans-Soult , † May 7, 1843 in Tarbes ), also reached higher ranks in the wars of the Republic and the Empire and died with the rank of lieutenant general.



  • Karl Bleibtreu : Marshal Soult. Napoleon's greatest pupil . Schall-Verlag, Berlin 1902.
  • Karl Bleibtreu: Marshals, Generals, soldiers of Napoleon I. VRZ, Hamburg 1999, ISBN 3-931482-63-4 (reprint of the first edition published in Berlin in 1898).
  • Albrecht Finck von Finckenstein, Axel Fuesers: Napoleon's Marshal Soult and Louise Berg . Wallstein-Verlag, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-89244-897-3 .
  • Jürgen Sternberger: The marshals of Napoleon . Pro Business, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-86805-172-8 .
  • Axel Fuesers: 'Napoleon's Marshal Soult and Louise Berg from Solingen'. In: Romerike Berge 4/2006, pp. 14-20, Thales Verlag GmbH, 45239 Essen-Werden, ISSN 0485-4306.
  • Axel Fuesers: 'An acquaintance on the stairs - Marshal Soult and Louise Berg'. In: Die Heimat 3/1987, pp. 5–16, Verlag des Solinger Tageblatt, ISSN 0179-048X

Web links

Commons : Jean-de-Dieu Soult  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Part I: Histoire des guerres de la Révolution , 1854, 3 vols. Volume 2 ( online ).
  2. See Anarchasis Combes: Histoire anecdotique de Jean-de-Dieu Soult, maréchal-général, Duc de Dalmatie . Éditions Huc, Paris 1870.
predecessor Office successor

Louis Napoléon Lannes
Foreign Minister of France
May 12, 1839 - March 1, 1840

Adolphe Thiers

Pierre-Antoine, comte Dupont de l'Étang
Étienne Maurice Gérard
Amédée Louis Despans-Cubières
Minister of War of France
December 3, 1814–11. March 1815
November 17, 1830-18. July 1834
October 29, 1840-10. November 1845

Henri Clarke d'Hunebourg
Étienne Maurice Gérard
Alexandre Pierre Chevalier Moline de Saint-Yon