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MURAT Joachim - Autograph Letter Signed 1797 arresting an Austrian agent

  • £825.00

Joachim MURAT (1771-1815)

Autograph Letter Signed (“J. Murat”) to “Monsieur le gouverneur”, ordering the arrest of the Austrian agent for provisions at Idro.

1½ pages 4to in French with integral blank leaf, on letterhead of the Army of Italy, headed “Liberté / Vertu / Egalité”, Salo, 19 nivose an 5 [8 January 1797].                             

The French had defeated the Austrians at Salo in August of the previous year. French forces, led by Bonaparte, with some of his ablest generals, Massena, Augereau and Murat among them, had succeeded in pushing the Austrians from much of northwestern Italy. It is unsurprising that the Austrians, still fiercely defending their positions in Italy, would have had spies and agents in the region, especially in territory under French control.

Trans: “I have the honour to send you . . . the name of the Austrian agent for provisions at Idro; I request that you have him arrested, and to make . . . this district responsible for all the grain which would be sent to the enemy, either by the lake or by land. I will write to General Ney for the salt . . . I beg you to believe that I am happy to do everything for your Excellency which honour and duty will allow me to do. . .” Two lines on the facing page identify the man in question “Name of the smuggler Paulo Giorgio, at Idro”.

The siege of Mantua, begun in July 1796, was soon to end in yet another French victory, one month after this letter. The loss of Mantua was devastating to the Austrians, and as French forces continued to make their way east and north – Napoleon’s ultimate aim was to march on Vienna – the Austrians finally agreed an armistice.

The Treaty of Campo Formio, signed on 7 October 1797 ended the war of the First Coalition. France’s only remaining declared enemy was Britain.


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