Andre Massena (born in Nice on May 6, 1758), enlisted in the Royal Italian regiment, had been appointed as warrant officer, top rank for a non-nobleman, before joining the National Guard where he became officer.
From colonel during the Piedmont campaign in 1792, he had risen to brigade general in 1793 and then divisional general the same year. Assigned to the advance guard of the Italian Army, Bonaparte gave him the nickname of "Dear Child of Victory" but his petty thefts turned him into "Rotten Child of the Victory". He headed both Italian and Helvetian armies but was relieved because of looting in Marengo.
Member of the Legislative Assembly (1803), he became Marshal of France (1804), Duke of Rivoli (1807) and Prince of Essling (1809) for his remarkable command during the battles of Wagram and the Peninsula War. Pushed aside by Napoleon I who gave him the 8th military Division of Marseille to command, Massena became Peer of France under Louis XVIII and refused to serve during the War of the Seventh Coalition.
Date of issue: 21 January 2008