On This Day in Napoleonic History – 24 May 1807

François-Joseph_LefebvreMarshal François Joseph Lefebvre takes Danzig during the War of the Fourth Coalition, securing the French left flank

As a thank you, Napoleon sent a box of chocolates to Lefebvre, who was unimpressed until he opened it to find it filled with 300,000 francs in banknotes.

A year later the proud Republican who had been Napoleon’s deputy on 18 Brumaire became the Duke of Danzig. He was to become the first marshal to receive a noble title. ‘It was not without design that I bestowed the first title I gave on Marshal Lefebvre,’ said Napoleon. After all, Lefebvre was the fiercest Republican and the most plebeian of Napoleon’s marshals. What Napoleon wanted to demonstrate was that Lefebvre with his lack of education and humble origin was worthy of the honour accorded him because he was an exemplary soldier and commander.

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