Armand Augustin Louis marquis de Caulaincourt was the son of a noble family who received the title of marquis in 1714. Some even attribute descent from the ancient Lusignan family to the Caulaincourts, the first of which is considered to be Hugh the Hunter, born in 929, a vassal of the Comte de Poitou. In the era of the Crusades, the older representatives of the Lusignan family remained in France, the younger ones went to Palestine, where they occupied a prominent position. Guy and Amori were kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus. Subsequently, the Lusignans owned Cyprus - until 1479, when this island was sold to Venice. Guy de Lusignan, son of Amalric, Lord of Tyre, was king of Armenia for two years (1342-1344). It is known that a certain Philippe de Caulaincourt was one of the close associates of Baudouin of Flanders, who, following the results of the IV Crusade, became the emperor of the Latin Empire. François-Armand, the first Marquis de Caulaincourt, was married to Françoise de Bethune, the great-granddaughter of the Duke of Sully, the famous minister of Henry IV of Navarre.
The Caulaincourt family
Armand-Augustin-Louis, the hero of our article, was born on December 9, 1773 in the castle of Caulaincourt, which is located on the territory of the modern department of Aisne. By birth, he was a marquis, but in 1808 Napoleon also awarded him the title of Duke of Vicenza (duc de Vicence), however, landless.
Armand Augustin Louis de Caulaincourt
His younger brother, divisional general Auguste Jean-Gabriel, who died on the Borodino field during the famous cavalry attack on the Rayevsky battery, became a count of the Bonaparte empire.
Louis Auguste Juvenal des Ursins d'Harville in a portrait by an unknown artist
The death of General Caulaincourt, a fragment of a lithograph by A. Adam
The title of count was also given to the father of these brothers - Louis Gabriel, 4th Marquis de Caulaincourt. Caulaincourt Sr. began his military service in the royal army. He took part in the Seven Years' War, became a knight of the Order of St. Louis, by 1788 he rose to the rank of field marshal (marechal-de-camp), which in republican and imperial France corresponded to the rank of brigadier general. Until 1792, Louis-Gabriel was the military governor of Artois, and then, on February 1 of the same year, he received the rank of lieutenant general from the new authorities and was appointed to the Northern Army. However, he failed to fight for the French Republic, because already in May he was dismissed as a former nobleman. He was able to return to public service on February 8, 1795. On November 5, 1803, Louis Gabriel received the Legion of Honor, and on February 1, 1805 he became a senator. Louis Gabriel Caulaincourt died on October 27, 1808, and on his deathbed he could rightfully consider that his life was a success.
The first years of the life of Armand de Caulaincourt
The Caulaincourt family could afford homeschooling their children, and the sons of the marquis received a very good education. However, Armand managed to study at the famous college of the city of La Flèche, founded by Henry IV. By that time, this school had already ceased to be a military educational institution, and medicine was also taught there. On January 13, 1788, the young aristocrat Armand de Caulaincourt (he was not yet 15 years old) entered the service of the foreign regiment of the royal cavalry (Royal-Etranger, created in 1659, in 1788 it was commanded by Theodore de Lamet - the uncle of our hero). Moreover, the son of the general and the nephew of the regiment commander began military service as a private. Compare this with the customs of the Russian aristocracy, when the boys of noble families were sometimes enrolled in regiments from the moment of birth, so that by the age of majority they were already officers. Even Alexander Suvorov, to whom, due to his sickness and frail physique, his father at first read civil service, in 1742 he was formally enrolled as a musketeer in the Semenovsky regiment, and by the beginning of his real service (in 1748), the future great commander was already a guards corporal. And the future Moscow Governor-General F. Rostopchin was enrolled in the Preobrazhensky Regiment at the age of 10 and, having never appeared in it, at the age of 17 he was promoted to ensign.
But back to the hero of our article. The first officer rank - the rank of second lieutenant, Armand Caulaincourt received after a year and a half of service - in November 1789. In 1791, he became his father's aide-de-camp, and then, in 1792, already a captain, he received a post on the staff of his uncle, the Earl Harville. At the same time, Armand joined the Masonic lodge La Cander, of which his father was also a member. The father and son Caulaincourt failed to take part in the battle of Zhemappe - they were dismissed as persons of suspicious origin. But Harville distinguished himself in this battle, then participated in the capture of Brussels and the siege of Namur. He will be arrested only after the flight of Dumouriez, but he was released at the request of Desmoulins. He would later become First Armourer of the Empress Josephine, Governor of the Louvre and the Tuileries, Count of the Empire and Peer of France.
Louis Auguste Juvénal des Ursins d'Harville in a portrait by an unknown artist
Armand de Caulaincourt in the French Republican Army
After the unfair resignation, Armand Caulaincourt did not emigrate from the country, but volunteered for the Paris National Guard on June 1, 1792. Only on August 24, 1793, he became a senior sergeant, on January 27, 1794 he was assigned to the 16th regiment of horse rangers, and in April of the same year, heading to the Western army of General Kleber, he was arrested. Armand Caulaincourt escaped from prison in Angers - only to re-enter the Republican army. After that, he fought against the Chouans as part of the army of Lazar Gosh. By March 1795, he had risen only to the rank of captain and the position of commander of a cavalry squadron. But in the same year, Armand Caulaincourt became the adjutant of General Aubert du Baie, the commander of the army of the coast of Cherbourg, who soon became minister of war for a short time, and then was sent on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople. Armand de Caulaincourt went with him. The future brilliant diplomat was then dissatisfied with his position, which he wrote about in letters to Harvill, complaining to him that he could not continue military service. Six months later he returned to Paris with the ambassador of Sultan Selim III. Having introduced him to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Talleyrand (and having received the most flattering reviews from him), Caulaincourt again becomes the adjutant of General Harville, who at that time was the inspector of the cavalry units of the army of Meuse and Sambre. During the war of the Second Coalition, Caulaincourt was in turn part of the German, Mayenne and Rhine armies, participated in the battles of Stockach, near Wenheim (here he received two wounds, but remained in the ranks), at Nersheim and Moskirche. Caulaincourt was noticed by the authorities and quickly went from captain - squadron commander to colonel, having received command of the 2nd regiment of heavy carabinieri cavalry. In the main battle of that war, which General Moreau gave the Austrians at Hohenlinden, during the pursuit of the retreating enemy, the Caulaincourt regiment captured several thousand soldiers and officers, including 4 generals, as well as 14 artillery pieces.
First trip to Petersburg
In 1801, Armand de Caulaincourt, thanks to his knowledge of the Russian language and acquaintance with Talleyrand, was sent to St. Petersburg on the occasion of the signing of the Paris Peace Treaty between France and Russia (October 10), as well as to congratulate the new emperor, Alexander I, on his accession to the throne. At the royal court, Caulaincourt was to replace General Duroc. Sending a marquis from a “good family” to Russia, Talleyrand hinted that it was not the sans-culottes who ruled France now. In addition, Caulaincourt was not a parquet shambler, but a well-deserved military officer, which should have aroused genuine interest and respect among influential generals of the Russian Court. They well remembered the recent European exploits of Suvorov's army, and the painful defeat of Rimsky-Korsakov's corps from Massena in Switzerland, because of which Suvorov had to change plans and route of movement: instead of marching to France, his army was forced to break through to the territory of Austria. At the same time, Caulaincourt had not yet fought against the Russians - only against the Austrian army, which ruled out any personal claims. In general, his candidacy was ideal.
I must say that Caulaincourt himself reacted to this appointment without enthusiasm: he still wanted to continue military service. But, as the Greek Stoic philosopher Cleanthes said (and Seneca later repeated his words), “Destiny leads the desiring, drags the unwilling". It is this commission that will single out Armand Caulaincourt from the crowd of ordinary officers, draw the attention of the “powerful of this world” in Paris and St. Petersburg, and literally pull him to the forefront of the world stories.
The choice of Talleyrand was indeed a good one. Caulaincourt made the most favorable impression on everyone in St. Petersburg, and he, in turn, liked the Russian emperor and his entourage. Since then, Caulaincourt has become an active supporter of the idea of a union of France and Russia, so that some historians later even accused him of "working for St. Petersburg."
Returning from Russia, Armand de Caulaincourt on July 31, 1802 was appointed one of the eight adjutants of the First Consul Bonaparte. This was a sign of trust, because at different times the Corsican's adjutants were such "stars of the first magnitude" as Jean Rapp, Jacques Alexander Lauriston, Jean Andoche Junot, Gerard Duroc, Jean Marie Savary, Charles Lebrun and other famous generals.
At the end of August 1803, Caulaincourt received the rank of brigadier general and the order to create the 112th semi-brigade from the former soldiers of the Austrian Netherlands.
Fereol Bonnemaison. Portrait of Armand Caulaincourt dressed as the Grand Squire
On his return to Paris, he was appointed to the post of Inspector General of the Stables of the First Consul.
Herbert Knotel. Armand de Caulaincourt in the ceremonial uniform of the Grand Equestrian
For some time he commanded the 8th Cavalry Regiment of the Army of the Rhine.
The kidnapping of the Duke of Angien
On March 10, 1804, Armand Caulaincourt was sent to the Elector of Baden with a note demanding the dissolution of the emigrant military formations. However, his papers also included an order for the capture and delivery to Paris of Louis Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Angien. This frivolous aristocrat literally ran into arrest himself, as he regularly crossed the border, visiting his mistress, whom he had taken in Strasbourg. The French officer and secret agent Karl Ludwig Schulmeister, who lived in Strasbourg as a trader in tobacco and colonial goods, kidnapped the duke's mistress and transported her to the French border town of Belfort. Having received a letter sent on behalf of his passion, the duke decided to release her by bribing the guards, but in Belfort the gendarmes were already waiting for him.
Charles Louis Schulmeister in a portrait by an unknown artist. Jean René Savary said of him to Bonaparte:Here is a man who consists entirely of a brain, but without a heart". It is claimed that thanks to Schulmeister's disinformation, General Mack's army did not leave Ulm in time and capitulated on October 20, 1805
The Duke of Anghien, as you know, was shot by a military court on March 21, 1804. But his mistress was released. The execution of the duke hastened the creation of a new, third in a row, anti-French coalition.
This story made a very difficult impression on Caulaincourt, and the royalists, until the end of his life, accused him of complicity in the kidnapping of the duke, which he always denied, claiming that he was used “in the dark”.
Career success of Armand de Caulaincourt
Meanwhile, the career of Armand Caulaincourt developed quite successfully, and after the proclamation of the empire, he received the title of Grand Squire (squire) of France. Under Bonaparte, it was the Grand Squire who was the head of the emperor's retinue, the manager of solemn ceremonies, and managed the imperial stables and communications service.
Fereol Bonnemaison. Portrait of Armand Caulaincourt dressed as the Grand Squire
February 1, 1805 Caulaincourt received the rank of division general, February 2 - the badge of the Great Eagle of the Order of the Legion of Honor.
However, there were also negative points: the beloved woman of Armand Caulaincourt, Andrienne-Herve-Louise de Carbonnel de Canisi, the maid of honor of the Empress Josephine, was removed from the Court after the divorce by order of Napoleon. Bonaparte did not want to hear about the marriage between her and Caulaincourt.
During the War of the Third Coalition, Caulaincourt served on the staff of the Grande Armée and is said to have shielded Napoleon from a cannonball on one occasion. But, since his injury is not reported, this core, apparently, was not intended for the emperor.
Return to St. Petersburg
After the Peace of Tilsit, Caulaincourt again received an order to go to Petersburg - this time already in the rank of ambassador plenipotentiary. At this time he was 34 years old. At the court of Alexander I, Caulaincourt replaced Jean Marie Savary. Already in Russia, he received the news that on June 7, 1808, Napoleon granted him the title of Duke of Vincenzo. And on September 25 of the same year, Caulaincourt was awarded the highest order of the Russian Empire - St. Andrew the First-Called.
In the Russian capital, Armand de Caulaincourt was received very warmly, for his accommodation Alexander I provided a huge palace of the Volkonsky princes, bought for a very significant amount of 340 thousand rubles. However, demonstrating a good personal attitude towards the French ambassador, Alexander I was preparing for a new war with Bonaparte. In his post, Caulaincourt tried to smooth out the contradictions that were growing in relations between the two empires, and made great efforts to organize the marriage of Napoleon with one of the sisters of Alexander I - Catherine or Anna. Family relations for the Corsican Bonaparte meant a lot: if this marriage could be organized, it is likely that Russia would have been able to avoid the war of 1812. Unfortunately, the petty vindictiveness of Alexander I, who could not forgive Bonaparte for his hint of participating in parricide, and the class arrogance of his mother Maria Feodorovna, who did not consider the French emperor equal to her daughters, prevailed over considerations of state expediency. The Austrian Habsburgs, who always looked down on the Romanovs, were not like that: consent to the marriage of Napoleon with Maria Louise followed immediately.
Meanwhile, the pro-Russian sympathies of Armand Caulaincourt began to annoy Napoleon, and in May 1811 he was replaced in St. Petersburg by a new ambassador, Jacques Alexander Lot de Lauriston.
A year later, in Vilna, in the presence of the Russian parliamentarian A. Balashov, Caulaincourt will sharply declare to Bonaparte:
“I am more French than those who, hoping to please you, incited this war. And I am proud that I am against this war and have done everything to prevent it.”
He was right: this war became the prologue to the death of Napoleon's empire and brought great disasters to the Russian people. The foreign campaign of the Russian army that followed it turned out to be ruinous, and the victory did not bring Russia any benefits.
After this conversation, the emperor cooled considerably towards Caulaincourt and did not even express sympathy for him in connection with the heroic death of his younger brother in the battle of Borodino.
Badge of the Order of Reunification established by Napoleon in 1811, found on the Borodino field in 2012. It has been established that it could only belong to the divisional general Augustin Jean-Gabriel de Caulaincourt
However, on December 5, 1812, Napoleon, who left his army, chose Caulaincourt as his companion. In April 1813, Caulaincourt became a senator. Later, for some time, he acted as Marshal of the Court and negotiated with the Allies, which ended with the signing of the Pleiswitz Armistice on June 4, 1813.
On November 20 of the same year, Caulaincourt was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. During the congress in Chaityon (February 5 - March 19, 1814), he advocated concessions to the allies on the issue of the natural borders of France, but Napoleon, who won several victories, refused the agreement. After the capitulation of Paris, it was Caulaincourt who put forward the proposal for the regency of Marie-Louise. Then he and Macdonald signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau granting the island of Elba to the abdicated emperor. After Napoleon's departure from Paris, Caulaincourt finally married Adrienne de Canissy.
Adrienne de Carbonnel de Canis in a portrait by François Gerard, 1824
The wedding took place on May 24, 1814, two boys were born in this marriage.
Thanks to good relations with Alexander I, Caulaincourt escaped reprisals after the restoration of the Bourbons, but was obstructed as one of the most devoted supporters of Bonaparte and an alleged participant in the kidnapping of the Duke of Angien. Not surprisingly, he supported Napoleon during his "Hundred Days" by once again taking over as Foreign Minister. After the second return of the Bourbons, his name was included in the list of people to be arrested compiled by Fouche, but was deleted from it after the intervention of Alexander I. After that, Caulaincourt did not hold any government posts, but wrote famous memoirs that serve as a valuable source of information about Bonaparte and the Epoch Napoleonic Wars. Oddly enough, the full text of Caulaincourt's memoirs was published only in 1933 - under the title "With Napoleon in Russia". And in our country, the full text of these memoirs was never translated and published.
Armand de Caulaincourt died in Paris on February 19, 1827 at the age of 53. His grave can be seen in the Père Lachaise cemetery.