Pierre François Joseph Lefèbvre, Duke of Dantzig, Maréchaux de France (1755 - 1820) MP

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Nicknames: "Francois Joseph Feber"
Birthplace: Rouffach, Colmar, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France
Death: Died in Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
Managed by: David Widerberg Howden
Last Updated:

About Pierre François Joseph Lefèbvre, Duke of Dantzig, Maréchaux de France

François Joseph Lefebvre, First Duc de Dantzig (25 October 1755 – 14 September 1820) was a French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and one of the original eighteen Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon.

Early life

Francois Joseph was born October 26, 1755 in Colmar, Alsace. His surname was at his birth spelled Feber. He was the son of an old private soldier of the hussars of Bercheny, who became in later life the wachtmeister of the little Alsatian town of Rouffach,

After his father's death, and his mothers second marriage, he was entrusted, at the age of eight, to the care of his uncle, the Abbé Jean Christophe Lefebvre, the vicar of Guémar. His uncle destined his nephew for the Church, and he had to learn Freanch, German, Latin and Greek. But at the age of 17 and a struggle with his uncle he run away from home, and left by foot to Paris, to be a volunteer in the Garde Francaise. And like his close friend, Michel Ordener, he embraced the French Revolution. He was enlisted 10 September 1773 and was promoted by the soldiers to be a sergeant 28 June 1782. after a severe tussle with the good abbe, Jean Francois set out with a light heart, a light purse, a few sentences of Latin, a rough Alsatian accent, and a fine physique to seek his fortune in the celebrated Garde Francaise at Paris. In 1783 he got married in Paris, in the town of Montmartre with Cathérine Hübscher with whom he had 14 children, although none living to survive him (his last son died in 1812 in battle).


Revolutionary Wars


In 1789 he was a Sergeant in the Gardes Françaises, and like most of the regiment, he joined the revolution. Promoted to Brigadier General in 1793, he took part in the Battle of Fleurus (24 June 1794). After General Louis Lazare Hoche's death he commanded the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse (September 1797). He then commanded the vanguard of the Army of the Danube under Jourdan in March 1799, although for the first week of the campaign he was incapacitated with ringworm and Dominique Vandamme replaced him temporarily. He was later injured at the Battle of Ostrach where the Advance Guard bore the brunt of the early fighting. In November 1799, Lefebvre commanded the Paris troops and reluctantly agreed to support Napoleon Bonaparte in his coup d'état. In the year 1800, Bonaparte appointed him senator.


Napoleonic Wars


Napoleon made him a Marshal of the Empire in 1804. Lefebvre commanded a division of the Old Guard in the German campaign of 1805. At the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, on 14 October 1806, Lefebvre commanded the infantry of the Imperial Guard. He besieged and took Danzig in 1807, which won him the title of Duc de Danzig (Duke of Danzig).


In 1808 Lefebvre took part in the Peninsula War. In 1809 he commanded the Bavarian army at the battles of Eckmühl and Wagram. Defeated by Tyrolean patriot Andreas Hofer in the same year, he was replaced. He commanded the Old Guard in the French invasion of Russia (1812) and in the German (1813) and French campaigns (1814) of the War of the Sixth Coalition.


He voted for the Emperor's deposition at the Senate and during the First Restoration he was made Peer of France by Louis XVIII (4 June 1814), but rallied to Napoleon during the Hundred Days.


After the war


He was excluded from the House of Peers during the Second Restoration. However, he retained his rank of marshal. Louis XVIII restored his peerage on 5 March 1819. He died in 1820 and was buried near André Masséna at the Père-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.


He never forgot the hard work that brought him rank and wealth. When a friend expressed envy of his estate, Lefebvre said "Come down in the courtyard, and I'll have ten shots at you with a musket at 30 paces. If I miss, the whole estate is yours." The friend naturally declined this offer, and Lefebvre then added, "I had a thousand bullets shot at me from much closer range before I got all this."

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Pierre François Joseph Lefèbvre, Duke of Dantzig, Maréchaux de France's Timeline

1755
October 25, 1755
Colmar, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France
1781
April 4, 1781
Age 25
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
1784
March 12, 1784
Age 28
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
1785
March 9, 1785
Age 29
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
1794
December 26, 1794
Age 39
Brabant, Liège, Walloon Region, Belgium
1802
1802
Age 46
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
1820
September 14, 1820
Age 64
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
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Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, Frankrike