Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult 1769-1851

Despite modest beginnings, Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult distinguished himself for his coolness at the Battle of Fleurus and at the Second Battle of Zurich. His moment of crowning glory was when he led the decisive attack on the allied centre at Austerlitz, earning high praise from Napoleon and the title of Duke of Dalmatia.
Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult

In 1785, after his father's death, necessity made Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult seek his fortune, enlisting as a private in the French infantry. He quickly rose through the ranks, serving one of France’s top generals, André Massená. Wounded and taken prisoner at Monte Cretto in 1800, the victory of Marengo restored his freedom, and Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult received the command of the southern part of the kingdom of Naples. In 1802 he was appointed one of the four generals commanding the consular guard and two years later made one of the first marshals of the Empire.
Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult spent the four years from 1808 - 1812 in the Peninsular, first forcing the British under Moore out of Spain and then leading the Second Invasion of Portugal in the following year, After the Battle of Talavera he was made chief-of-staff of the French troops in Spain and in November won a great victory at the Battle of Ocana.
In 1810 he invaded Andalusia, which he speedily dominated. In 1811 he marched north into Extremadura and took Badajoz. When the Anglo-Portuguese army laid siege to the city he marched to its rescue, and fought and nearly won the very bloody Battle of Albuera.

In 1812, after the Duke of Wellington's great victory of Salamanca, he was obliged to evacuate Andalusia. Although in the subsequent Burgos campaign he was able to drive Wellington's army back to Salamanca, he was recalled soon after at the request of Joseph Bonaparte, the Spanish regent.
When Napoleon returned from Elba, he was made a peer of France and acted as major-general (chief of staff) to the emperor in the campaign of Waterloo. Despite his Napoleonic associations, Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult continued his career after the 100 days.
After the revolution of 1830, Louis Philippe awarded him the title of marshal-general, In his subsequent career as a statesman, he served as Minister of War between 1830-1834 and 1840-1844, as well as Prime Minister of France three times (1832-1834, 1839-1840 and 1840-1847) Appointed special French ambassador to Queen Victoria’s coronation he would face the Duke of Wellington on the diplomatic front as he had once done across the battlefield.

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Arriving in Oporto to select a port wine for his college, Englishman Horace Grimpil soon finds himself embroiled in the conflicting interests of the British and Portuguese communities, where he is an ignorant outsider.

This Portuguese city - a turbulent place of ambition and defiance fought over by the French and British during the Napoleonic wars - is emerging from political turmoil that left the city and its people with their wealth and society destroyed.

Mr Grimpil, however, is about to experience personal turmoil of his own. Little does he know how the passions aroused during his journey of discovery will affect his own character, or how his presence will bring to a conclusion the relentless pursuit of a political revenge spanning generations.

Read more about the book here

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