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The share we are talking about today gives us an opportunity to tell the extraordinary life of Gioacchino Murat and in particular of the seven years he reigned over Naples. This bond in ducats (catalogue value around 250 euro), in fact, was issued by Murat himself to finance the funds of the Kingdom established on February 14, 1806, when the French entered Naples.  That day Napoleon declared the Bourbon dynasty declined, and proclaimed his brother Giuseppe Bonaparte King of Naples.

Gioacchino Murat charged the head of the Cavalry In The Land Battle of Aboukir against the Turks (25 July 1799) During the campaign of Napoleon in Egypt (the painting of Jean – Antoine Gros goes back to 1805 )

Giuseppe reigned until 1808, when the Emperor proclaimed him King of Spain. In Naples he’s replaced by Murat acquired the Kingdom since August 1, 1808. Murat was born in Joachim Murat-Jordy on March 25, 1767, the eleventh son of a hotel owner, and he was the example of how, even then, the social ascent was possible. As King of Naples he tried to stem the rampant poverty bothered the people, and for this he was loved by the Neapolitans who renamed him “Gioacchino Napoleon” , appreciating his good looks, the bloody character, the physical courage and the enjoyment for entertainment. On a practical level he tried to suppress brigandage: introduced the Napoleonic code, improved the education system, set in motion a series of public works, created a national army and tried to give life to a new Southern ruling class. In those years, however, he fell out with the clergy especially after legalizing  divorce, civil marriage and adoption for the first time in Italy.

But 1800 is the most important year of Murat’s life: overcoming the resistance of Napoleon Bonaparte he married Carolina, the youngest sister of the Emperor. Bonaparte was contrary to the marriage, because he considered Murat immoral and libertine. Eventually he is forced to give in to the stubbornness of the two young people, more and more in love with each other. The first years of marriage are those in which are born in quick succession their four children: Achille, Letizia, Luciano and Luisa. Murat began a long period of triumphs, culminating in his appointment as King of Naples, the pinnacle of his career: in Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau and Friedland as commander of the cavalry reserve, he led grandiose charges and victorious pursuits. But the relationships with Napoleon became increasingly turbulent so that the emperor continued to nickname him rascal and Italian Trouser. With the Russian campaign in 1812 Murat finally lost his already shaky faith in Napoleon, who had appointed him commander in chief of the army during the retreat of the Russian campaign, when in December 1812 he had to return hurriedly to Paris following the attempted coup d’état  by general Malet. In front of the stunned marshals, Gioacchino declared that the emperor was now a madman to which no ruler in Europe couldn’t believe anymore.

Condanna a morte di Gioacchino Murat
Original copy of the sentencing to death of Gioacchino Murat kept in the Historical Archive of Naples .

In 1813 Murat, returned to Naples, held secret negotiations with Austria and England, without definitely breaking with Napoleon, still following him to Dresden and Leipzig. After signing the agreements with London and Vienna, in the hope of separating the fate of the throne of Naples from collapse, he contributed with his troops to the failures of Prince Eugenio in Northern Italy. The first decisions of the Congress of Vienna to him contrary, the threat of the loss of the Kingdom and the distrust of the allies led him to take up arms against them, even before the landing of Napoleon from Elba. After trying in vain to gather Italians around him, promising unity and  independence in the Rimini’s proclamation (March 30, 1815), he is defeated by the Austrians at Tolentino.  Under the illusion that the people would have helped him, he tried again the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples  from Corsica, where he had fled: he landed with  few companions in Pizzo Calabro on October 13, 1815 where he was captured and shot by the Bourbons. In hearing the death sentence Murat did not flinch at all. Indeed he showed great courage. His last words have remained famous: “Soldiers, targeted to the heart, but save your face!”. His latest vanity is not heard because two finishing blows to his head were needed  to kill him.  Napoleon from St. Elena coldly commented  the news of his brother’s death; “he got what he deserved, he died as a vulgar gang leader. He was my right-arm man, but left to himself he was an idiot without judgment”.  The commentary of the Neapolitans was definitely more ironic: “Gioacchino made the law and Gioacchino was killed”, to emphasize how Gioacchino Murat was victim of a law established by himself. In fact, the penal code promulgated by him, provided the maximum penalty for those who had made revolutionary acts.

Alberto PUPPO
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