, 1758-1817, marshal of France, b. Nice. Of humble origin, he entered (1791) the French army and rose rapidly because of his brilliant tactical abilities. He served under Napoleon Bonaparte in the Italian campaign, won the battle of Rivoli (1797), where he earned a reputation for rapaciousness, and distinguished himself in Napoleon's campaigns of 1800 and 1809 against Austria. In 1799, Masséna's victory over the Russians at Zürich saved France from invasion by the Second Coalition (see French Revolutionary Wars
). Masséna's subsequent failure in the Peninsular War
is often attributed to the lack of cooperation of the other French commanders. Masséna's relations with Napoleon were somewhat strained because of Masséna's republican convictions, but he lacked political ambition, and Napoleon honored his military achievements by making him duke of Rivoli (1808) and prince of Essling (1810). After Napoleon's fall in 1814, Masséna supported Louis XVIII, who raised him to the peerage (1815). His neutral attitude during the Hundred Days was attacked by the royalists after the Restoration.
See his Mémoires (7 vol., 1848-50, repr. 1966-67); biography by J. H. Marshall-Cornwall (1965).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Copyright © 2004.
Licensed from Columbia University Press