1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Junot, Andoche

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21499951911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 15 — Junot, Andoche

JUNOT, ANDOCHE, Duke of Abrantes (1771–1813), French general, was born at Bussy-le-Grand (Côte d’Or), on the 23rd of October 1771. He went to school at Chatillon, and was known among his comrades as a blustering but lovable creature, with a pugnacious disposition. He was studying law in Paris at the outbreak of the Revolution and joined a volunteer battalion. He distinguished himself by his valour in the first year of the Revolutionary wars, and came under the special notice of Napoleon Bonaparte during the siege of Toulon, while serving as his secretary. It is related that as he was taking down a despatch, a shell burst hard by and covered the paper with sand, whereupon he exclaimed, “Bien! nous n’avions pas de sable pour sécher l’encre! en voici!” He remained the faithful companion of his chief during the latter’s temporary disgrace, and went with him to Italy as aide-de-camp. He distinguished himself so much at the battle of Millesimo that he was selected to carry back the captured colours to Paris; returning to Italy he went through the campaign with honour, but was badly wounded in the head at Lonato. Many rash incidents in his career may be traced to this wound, from which he never completely recovered. During the expedition to Egypt he became a general of brigade. His devotion to Bonaparte involved him in a duel with General Lanusse, in which he was again wounded. He had to be left in Egypt to recover, and in crossing to France was captured by English cruisers. On his return to France he was made commandant of Paris, and afterwards promoted general of division. It was at this time that he married Laure Permon (see Junot, Laure). He next served at Arras in command of the grenadiers of the army destined for the invasion of England, and made some alterations in the equipment of the troops which received the praise of the emperor. It was, however, a bitter mortification that he was not appointed a marshal of France when he received the grand cross of the legion of honour. He was made colonel-general of hussars instead and sent as ambassador to Lisbon, his entry into which city resembled a royal progress. But he was so restless and dissatisfied in the Portuguese capital that he set out, without leave, for the army of Napoleon, with which he took part in the battle of Austerlitz, behaving with his usual courage and zeal. But he soon gave fresh offence. Although his early devotion was never forgotten by the emperor, his uncertain temper and want of self-control made it dangerous to employ him at court or headquarters, and he was sent to Parma to put down an insurrection and to be out of the way. In 1806 he was recalled and became governor of Paris. His extravagance and prodigality shocked the government, and some rumours of an intrigue with a lady of the imperial family—it is said Pauline Bonaparte—made it desirable again to send him away. He was therefore appointed to lead an invading force into Portugal. For the first time Junot had a great task to perform, and only his own resources to fall back upon for its achievement. Early in November 1807 he set out from Salamanca, crossed the mountains of Beira, rallied his wearied forces at Abrantes, and, with 1500 men, dashed upon Lisbon, in order, if possible, to seize the Portuguese fleet, which had, however, just sailed away with the regent and court to Brazil. The whole movement only took a month; it was undoubtedly bold and well-conducted, and Junot was made duke of Abrantes and invested with the governorship of Portugal. But administration was his weak point. He was not a civil governor, but a sabreur, brave, truculent, and also dissipated and rapacious, though in the last respect he was far from being the worst offender amongst the French generals in Spain. His hold on Portugal was never supported by a really adequate force, and his own conduct, which resembled that of an eastern monarch, did nothing to consolidate his conquest. After Wellesley encountered him at Vimiera (see Peninsular War) he was obliged to conclude the so-called convention of Cintra, and to withdraw from Portugal with all his forces. Napoleon was furious, but, as he said, was spared the necessity of sending his old friend before a court martial by the fact that the English put their own generals on their trial. Junot was sent back to Spain, where, in 1810–1811, acting under Masséna, he was once more seriously wounded. His last campaign was made in Russia, and he received more than a just share of discredit for it. Napoleon next appointed him to govern Illyria. But Junot’s mind had become deranged under the weight of his misfortunes, and on the 29th of July 1813, at Montbard, he threw himself from a window in a fit of insanity.