The Death of Joachim Murat: 1815 and the Unfortunate Fate of One of Napoleon’s Marshals

Murat in 1815
Joachim Murat

Joachim Murat, son of an innkeeper, had won his spurs as Napoleon’s finest cavalry general and then won his throne when, in 1808, Napoleon appointed him king of Naples. He loyally ran this strategic Italian kingdom with his wife, Napoleon’s sister Caroline, until, in 1814, with Napoleon beaten and in retreat towards ruin and exile, the royal couple chose to betray their imperial relation and dramatically switched sides.

This notorious betrayal won them temporary respite, but just a year later Murat engineered his own dramatic fall. A series of blunders took the cavalier king from thinking he had secured his dynasty to fleeing his kingdom. His native France did not welcome him, although Corsica proved more receptive, so Murat soon resolved to bet everything on a hare-brained plan to return to Naples as a conquering hero and king. His aim was to take a small band of followers, land near his capital, organise regime change and reclaim his throne. In September 1815, he set off with a small band of followers. What happened next forms the core of this part-tragic, part-ridiculous story and a lesson in how not to stage a coup. Just five days after landing in Calabria, King Joachim was hauled before a firing squad and executed.

This is the story of that adventure. One that would end in tragedy as the curtain swept down on the tumult of the Napoleonic Wars. Based on research in the archives of Paris and Naples, this book aims to throw light on the fate of the mightily fallen Murat and restore some history to a tale that, until now, lay smothered under two centuries of fable and neglect. It is also a reminder, if one were needed, that there is a fine line in history between a fool and a hero.

The book is available from and but also why not try Hive, Wordery or the publisher directly?


Chapter 1 Escape

Chapter 2 France

Chapter 3 Exile

Chapter 4 The White Terror

Chapter 5 Corsica

Chapter 6 At Sea

Chapter 7 Pizzo in Calabria

Chapter 8 Prison

Chapter 9 Legacies


Annex I: A Conspiracy Theory

Annex II: Murat’s Letter to Maceroni