Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Owl

In case you can not read, the above fellow is one Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr, born this day 1764 in Toul, France. He was born the first child of a tanner and his wife in nowhere France. His mother decided that being the wife of a tanner, and birthing babies was not something she was cut out to do, and left the family for good when Saint-Cyr was very young. By the age of four, both of his siblings had died, and he was doomed to an extremely unhappy childhood. According to one close friend, this childhood left him with a strong sense of individualism, and an air of melancholy. At the age of 18, tired of living in nowhere France, and not a fan of his father, he left for Rome with the dream of becoming an artist. For four years he wandered up and down Italy trying to live the dream as an artist, he then returned to Paris to try his luck on the stage. Failing that, he was pretty much shiftless when the French Revolution intervened, and made him our hero for the day. In 1792, he was chosen as captain in a volunteer battalion, and in two years had been rapidly promoted to general of a division. War time, and radical politics have a tendency to allow for that kind of rapid promotion. His battlefield exploits are not the greatest in the world, but he did manage to get promoted all the way to Marshal of France in 1812. He was a solid, if cautious commander, and had a few moments of battlefield greatness to hang his hat upon. During the many years of the Napoleonic Wars, he made several good friends among his fellow officers, one was previous hero, Michel Ney. This friendship was to eventually cause Saint-Cyr a great deal of personal grief. When, during the Hundred Days campaign, Ney rallied to Napoleon's side, and took part in Napoleon's final battle of Waterloo, Ney made a lot of enemies. These enemies eventually got Ney tried for treason. Saint-Cyr was Minister of War at the time, and tried his best to get Ney a more favorable jury, but was forced out of office by the Ultra Royalists. This was to cause his friend's downfall, and even though Saint-Cyr voted for Ney's deportation rather than his execution, Ney was duly shot by a firing squad for treason. He was later reappointed to be Minister of War, and effected many positive changes in the French military before finally retiring from office in 1819. He spent the rest of his life in retirement at a renowned spa, dying of a heart attack in 1830. He was a life-long agnostic, and his grave bears no cross or religious motif. I can almost trace the distaff side of my family back to Saint-Cyr, and if any of you have ever email me on yahoo, you will recognize where my yahoo email account got it name. It is from great, great, great, uncle Gouvion. So, for being a hero to the family, Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr (April 13th, 1764-March 17th, 1830, at the age of 65), you are my (232nd), hero of the day.

1 comment:

Cynnie said...

if i couldnt read i wouldnt be on your blog ...not enough nudity :)