||Roland of the Grande Armée
||(1769-04-10)10 April 1769
Lectoure, Kingdom of France
||31 May 1809(1809-05-31) (aged 40)
Ebersdorf, Austrian Empire
French First Republic,
First French Empire
|Years of service
||General of Division
||French Revolutionary Wars,
||Marshal of the Empire,
Légion d'honneur (Grand Cross),
Name inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe,
Sovereign Prince of Siewierz and Duke of Montebello
Jean Lannes, 1st Duc de Montebello (10 April 1769 – 31 May 1809), was a Marshal of the Empire. He was one of Napoleon's most daring and talented generals. Napoleon once commented on Lannes: "I found him a pygmy and left him a giant". A personal friend of the emperor, he was allowed to address him with the familiar "tu", as opposed to the formal "vous".
Lannes was born in the small town of Lectoure, in the Gers department in the south of France. He was the son of a Gascon farmer, Jeannet Lannes (1733 – 1812, son of Jean Lannes (d. 1746) and wife Jeanne Pomiès (d. 1770) and paternal grandson of Pierre Lane and wife Bernarde Escossio, both died in 1721), and wife Cécile Fouraignan (1741 – 1799), and was apprenticed to a dyer. He had little education, but his great strength and proficiency in all manly sports caused him in 1792 to be elected sergeant-major of the battalion of volunteers of Gers, which he had joined on the breaking out of war between Spain and the French republic. He served through the campaigns in the Pyrenees in 1793 and 1794, and rose by distinguished conduct to the rank of chef de brigade. However, in 1795, on the reform of the army introduced by the Thermidorians, he was dismissed from his rank.
He married twice, in Perpignan, 19 March 1795 to Paulette Méric, whom he divorced because of infidelity in 1800, after she had given birth to an illegitimate son while he was campaigning in Egypt:
- Jean-Claude Lannes de Montebello (Montauban, 12 February 1799 – 1817), who died unmarried and without issue,
and secondly at Dornes on 16 September 1800 to Louise Antoinette, Comtesse de Guéhéneuc (Paris, 26 February 1782 – Paris, 3 July 1856), by whom he had five children:
- Louis Napoléon (30 July 1801 – 19 July 1874)
- Alfred-Jean (11 July 1802 – 20 June 1861)
- Jean-Ernest (20 July 1803 – 24 November 1882)
- Gustave-Olivier (4 December 1804 – 25 August 1875)
- Josephine-Louise (4 March 1806 – 8 November 1889)
one who succeeded in his titles and three others who used the courtesy title of Baron. One of his direct descendants, Philippe Lannes de Montebello, was until 2008 the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Campaigns of Italy and Egypt
He re-enlisted as a simple volunteer in the French Armée d'Italie, and in its campaign of 1796, he again fought his way up to high rank, being eventually made a general of brigade by orders of Bonaparte. He was distinguished in every battle. At the Battle of Bassano he captured two enemy flags with his own hands and was wounded in the Battle of the Bridge of Arcole while aiding Bonaparte to escape the Austrian advance. He was chosen by Bonaparte to accompany him to Egypt as commander in one of Kléber's brigades, in which capacity he greatly distinguished himself, especially on the retreat from Syria. He was wounded at the Battle of Abukir. He went back to France with Bonaparte, and assisted him in his 1799 coup. After Bonaparte's take over and appointment as Consul of France, Lannes was promoted to the ranks of general of division and commandant of the consular guard. Back with the Armée d'Italie, Lannes commanded the advanced guard in the crossing of the Alps in 1800, was instrumental in winning the Battle of Montebello, from which he afterwards took his title, and bore the brunt of the Battle of Marengo.