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Marshall / Duke Nicolas Soult

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Nicolas Soult was a French military commander who morphed into a statesman later in his career.

Early Career

Soult was born in 1769 and joined the French infantry in 1785. Although Soult was only a sergeant when the French Revolution burst into life (and then chaos), Soult was one of those men who benefited from the flight and execution of his superiors, and Soult rose in rank. After a particularly good display at the Battle of Fleurus in 1794 Soult was made a General by Lefebvre; five years later, at the Battle of Stokach, he would actually replace his injured patron.

Under Napoleon

When Napoleon came to power Soult was given command in Naples, and became a Marshall in 1804. Soult commanded under Napoleon at Ulm, Austerlitz, Jena and Eylau, although he wasn’t especially distinguished at the latter. Napoleon then made Soult duc de Dalmatie, and he was sent to subdue Spain in 1808. Soult would spend the next five years there struggling against Spanish rebels / patriots and Wellington’s Anglo-Portuguese, and he was eventually forced back into France, being defeated at Toulouse in 1814 several days after Napoleon had been forced to resign.

Statesman

With the return of the Bourbons in 1814 Soult began to show a high degree of political flexibility, becoming first a royalist, then commanding troops at Waterloo for Napoleon, living in exile until 1819 when he returned, and holding government positions during the reign of King Louis-Philippe. He now mixed being Minister of War and President of the Council across three periods, and when the latest king was deposed he went back to being a republican. He died in 1851.
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