History Podcasts

Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot, 1753-1823

Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot, 1753-1823


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot, 1753-1823

Lazare Carnot (1753-1832) was the French politician and general most responsible for the creation of the armies that saved the infant French Republic, won the War of the First Coalition and that were used to great effect by Napoleon. Carnot was the son of lawyers from Burgundy, but rather than follow his father into the law the young Carnot entered the army. By 1783 he had reached the rank of captain in the Engineers, and before the revolution he was the author of a number of treatises on military affairs.

Carnot was an early supporter of the Revolution. In 1791 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly. His military background meant that he was one of the first wave of deputies send out to purge the armies, in his case going to the Army of the Rhine in August 1792. In September 1792 he was elected to the Convention, and in January 1793 he voted for the execution of Louis XVI, a move that would make him eligible for high office later in the revolution.

Carnot's most important achievements came in the second half of 1793. In August 1793 he became a member of the Committee of Public Safety, combining the roles of Minister of War and Commander in Chief of the French armies, raising them, equipping them and directing their campaigns.

This appointment came at a time of crisis for the French Republic. Early in 1793 General Dumouriez had set out to invade the Netherlands, but the Allies launched a counterattack into the Austrian Netherlands. The French were forced to retreat back towards Brussels, before suffering a major defeat at Neerwinden (18 March 1793). In the aftermath of this defeat the Allies reoccupied Brussels. Dumouriez was now becoming disillusioned with the increasingly radical government in Paris. In early April he attempted to lead his army back into France to restore order, and when the army refused to support him he went into exile with the Austrians. Over the next few months the Allies captured a series of fortifications on the French border, including Condé (10 July 1793) and Valenciennes (28 July 1793). The Allied army then split in two. The British moved north-west to attack Dunkirk while the Austrians, Dutch and Prussians besieged Maubeuge.

The key to Carnot's success was his endless energy. A week after he was appointed to the Committee of Public Safety the levee en masse was announced. Every male in France was conscripted, giving the Republic a virtually unlimited pool of manpower. Carnot's next task was to find a way to turn the vast number of enthusiastic new recruits into an effective army. The answer was to combine one regular battalion with two new battalions to form a demi-brigade. This wasn't Carnot's idea, but he had the task of implementing the scheme.

The new massive French armies soon restored the situation on the French border. On 8 September 1793 General Houchard defeated the forces covering the siege of Dunkirk (battle of Hondschoote), but his campaign in western Flanders failed and he was executed. General Jourdan took over the Army of the North, with orders to relieve the siege of Maubeuge. Carnot joined Jourdan, and both men were present and played an important role in the victory at Wattignies (15-16 October 1793).

Carnot was responsible for the French plan for 1794. He decided to attack on both flanks of the Allied army in the Austrian Netherlands. One force was to attack Maritime Flanders, while in the east a second army advanced to the Sambre and attempted to capture Charleroi. Carnot's plan had been much criticized. The key to the Allied position was in the east, and if the French had concentrated their efforts on the capture of Charleroi and a push north from there then they would have cut most of the Allied supply lines, which ran east into Germany.

In Carnot's defence the campaign in Flanders west did force the Allied commanders to move their forces west. An Allied attempt to destroy the French Army of the North failed at Tourcoing (18 May 1794), but a French counterattack was also a failure (Tournai, 22 May 1794). In the east the attack on Charleroi had turned into a stalemate. Carnot moved General Jourdan north to reinforce the army attacking Charleroi, and the combined French armies finally captured the city (25 June 1795). On the following day Jourdan defeated the Allies at Fleurus (26 June 1795) and the Allied position in the Austrian Netherlands began to unravel.

Despite these successes Carnot came under constant attack in Paris. He had been closely associated with Robespierre, but by July 1794, when Robespierre fell, he had argued with him, and survived the end of the terror. Carnot was particularly hostile to Robespierre's cult of the Supreme Being. In March 1795 he resigned from his remaining political posts, but he was only out of office for a few months. In November 1795 he was one of the first Directors, in the government that replaced the Convention. Once again he took up command of France's armies.

Carnot was not always a successful strategist. This became most clear during the French invasion of Germany in the summer of 1796. His plan was to attack both flanks of the Austrian position on the Rhine. General Jourdan with the Army of the Sambre-and-Meuse was to cross between Dusseldorf and Mainz, while General Moreau, with the Army of the Rhine-and-Moselle crossed between Mannheim and Strasburg. The two armies were then to advance east into Germany and operate on different lines. Jourdan was to advance up the Main, while Moreau operated on the south bank of the Danube. At the same time Carnot supported Napoleon's request to be given command of the Army of Italy.

Against earlier Austrian commanders Carnot's plan may well have lead to success, for the Austrians would probably have split their armies in an attempt to defeat both French columns at the same time. When Carnot was developing his plan the Austrians had two armies and two commanders on the Rhine – the Archduke Charles with the Army of the Lower Rhine was posted on the west bank of the river close to Mainz, with its right wing stretching north along the east bank, while General Würmser commanded the Army of the Upper Rhine in the area south of Mannheim. This arrangement was disrupted when Napoleon made his dramatic advance into northern Italy. Würmser was moved south with orders to lift the siege of Mantua, and the Archduke was given command of all Austrian forces on the Rhine.

Napoleon achieved his successes in Italy by taking advantage of the Austrian tendency to split their armies into two or more separate columns, operating at a large distance from each other. In Germany Carnot's plan gave the Archduke the chance to do the exact same thing to the French. At first Carnot's plan seemed to be working. Jourdan crossed the Rhine first, at the end of May. The Archduke moved north in response and chased the French back across the river, but that gave Moreau his chance to cross the Rhine, at the start of July. The Archduke returned to the south, but then decided to conduct a fighting retreat on both fronts. Once his armies were close to the Danube he would unite them and fall on whichever French army was most vulnerable. This plan was a complete success. As the French moved east Carnot's orders prevented Jourdan and Moreau from taking any of a series of chances they had to unite their armies. In mid August the Archduke moved against Jourdan, defeating him at Amberg (24 August 1796) and Würzburg (3 September 1796). Jourdan retreated back to the Rhine, forcing Moreau to pull back from the Danube. After making sure that Jourdan would have to cross back to the west bank of the river, the Archduke moved south and defeated Moreau in two battles between the Rhine and the Black Forest (Emmendingen, 19 October 1796 and Schliengen, 24 October 1796).

Napoleon's campaign in Italy made up for the failure in Germany, but despite being largely responsible for the French victory in the War of the First Coalition Carnot began to fall out of favour. He was seen as one of the conservative members of the Directory. When the moderate and Royalist factions won the elections of 1797 more radical elements carried out a military coup (4 September 1797). Carnot was to be arrested and sent into exile in the colonies, but he escaped from the trap and fled to Switzerland.

Carnot returned to France after another military coup, this time conducted by Napoleon (coup of 18 Brumaire, 1799). At first he was able to work with the new authorities, serving the Consuls at the Ministry of War for six months, but early in 1801, disenchanted with Napoleon's rule, he retired from active public life. He did retain a place on the tribunat, where he voted against Napoleon's appointment as Consul for life and the foundation of the Légion d'Honneur, which like many supporters of the Revolution he saw as elitist. During his period he wrote De La défense des places fortes (1810) for use in French military academies. This book was used as a textbook in most European armies.

In 1814 France was threatened with invasion. Carnot returned to the army with the rank of général de division, and conducted a remarkable defence of Antwerp. When Napoleon returned from exile Carnot served him as Minister of the Interior. After Napoleon's second abdication Carnot briefly headed a provisional government, but the second restoration ended his public career. He was proscribed and spent the rest of his life in exile, spending most of his time at Magdeburg.

Napoleonic Home Page | Books on the Napoleonic Wars | Subject Index: Napoleonic Wars


--> Carnot, Lazare, 1753-1823

Sorti de l’école de Mézières, capitaine du génie en 1783, Lazare Carnot (1753-1823) se rallia à la Révolution. Député du Pas-de-Calais à la Législative, chargé d’une mission à l’armée du Rhin dès août 1792, il siégea ensuite à la Convention et vota la mort de Louis XVI. Il entra au Comité de salut public en août 1793 et contribua au 9 thermidor. Membre du Directoire (novembre 1795), il se trouva bientôt en opposition avec Barras et se réfugia en Allemagne après le coup d’État du 18 fructidor. Rappelé par Bonaparte, il devint ministre de la Guerre en 1800. Membre du Tribunat, il s’opposa à l’institution de l’Empire. Ministre de l’Intérieur pendant les Cent-Jours, il se retira, après 1816, à Varsovie puis à Magdebourg, d’où ses restes furent ramenés en France pour être déposés au Panthéon.

Information extraite de la notice des Archives nationals de France (FRAN_NP_050501)

From the description of Autograph poem signed : Magdebourg, to Felicite Claivoz, 1818 May 5. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270858763

From the description of Autograph document signed : Dunkirk, 1793 Apr. 30. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270132732


Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot

(Paris 1 June 1796 – 24 August 1832)

Eldest son of Lazare Carnot, brother of Hippolyte. Physicist known as the founding father of thermodynamics.

After having attended Charlemagne High School, Sadi was received twenty-fourth at the École Polytechnique in 1812, at the age of sixteen. He graduated at the top of his class in Artillery. He fought against the Allies with the Polytechnicians’ Battalion during the defense of the Vincennes Fort in 1824.

As a candidate to join the General Staff in 1819, he was accepted with the rank of Lieutenant. He had achieved the rank of Captain in the Corps of Engineers by the time he left the army in 1828 to settle in Paris. He died there of cholera at the age of thirty-six. He had no heirs.

Sadi Carnot is known as the founder of thermodynamics. In 1824, he published at his own expense, Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire and on Machines Fitted to Develop this Power.It is in this book—of less than a hundred-and-twenty pages, with a limited printing of only six hundred copies—that he founded what we call today the Second Law of Thermodynamicsor Carnot’s Principle. He also discovered the first principal, that of energy conservation, before the end of his life, as is shown in his essays published posthumously in 1878.


Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot

Second son of Claude Carnot. Brother of Claude- Marie Carnot- Feulins. Father of Sadi (physicist) and Hippolyte (statesman).

General, statesman and scholar. Knight of Saint- Louis. Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor. Decorated with the Ordre du Lis. Member of the Institute. Comte de l’Empire and Pair de France. Known as the Organizer of the Victory or the Grand Carnot .

By 1783, he was a Captain in the Royal Corps of Engineers, but was limited in his military and marital ambitions due to his modest origins. Nevertheless, he joined the French Revolution and went on to be elected Deputy of the Pas- de- Calais in the Legislative Assembly, then in the Convention where he sat with the Deputies of the Plaine. He later rejoined the Montagnards. As a member of the Committee of Public Safety (July 1793), he was in charge of military affairs and created the fourteen armies of the Republic. Sent on a mission with the Northern Army, which was led by Jourdan, he contributed to the victory of Wattignies (16 October 1793). Socially moderate, indeed even conservative, he took a stand against Robespierre, Couthon and Saint- Just during the 8 and 9 Thermidor (26- 27 July 1794). Member and President of the Directory in 1795, he was removed from his position after the coup d’état of the 18 Fructidor, Year V (4 September 1797). Recalled after the 18 Brumaire, Year VIII (9 November 1799), he was named Minister of War by Bonaparte. He resigned in 1800, and became a member of the Tribunate. Hostile to the Consulate and the Empire for the rest of his life, he retired from public life, dedicating himself to scientific research until 1814. He then, in his function as Governor, participated in defending Antwerp. Home Secretary during the Hundred- Days, he was banished for regicide in 1816 (Lazare voted for the death of Louis XVI and refused deferment of the sentence). He died in exile in Magdeburg. His ashes were transferred to the Pantheon on August 4, 1889 during the seven- year presidency of his grandson, Sadi Carnot.

Lazare Carnot is also known for his scientific works. In his Essay on Machines in General ( Essai sur les machines en général ), he developed in detail the laws of collisions and set forth the law of energy conservation. With his Geometry of Position ( Géométrie de position ) (1803), he emerges—at the same time as Monge—as one of the founders of modern geometry.

Lazare Carnot est également connu pour ses travaux scientifiques. Dans son Essai sur les machines en général, il précisa les lois du choc et énonça la loi de conservation du travail. Avec sa Géométrie de position (1803), il apparaît en même temps que Monge comme un des créateurs de la géométrie moderne.


Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot,1753-1823. French statesman, general, military engineer, and administrator. Engraved by Rambert after Lienard.From "Histoire de la Revolution Francaise" by Louis Blanc.

Your Easy-access (EZA) account allows those in your organization to download content for the following uses:

  • Tests
  • Samples
  • Composites
  • Layouts
  • Rough cuts
  • Preliminary edits

It overrides the standard online composite license for still images and video on the Getty Images website. The EZA account is not a license. In order to finalize your project with the material you downloaded from your EZA account, you need to secure a license. Without a license, no further use can be made, such as:

  • focus group presentations
  • external presentations
  • final materials distributed inside your organization
  • any materials distributed outside your organization
  • any materials distributed to the public (such as advertising, marketing)

Because collections are continually updated, Getty Images cannot guarantee that any particular item will be available until time of licensing. Please carefully review any restrictions accompanying the Licensed Material on the Getty Images website, and contact your Getty Images representative if you have a question about them. Your EZA account will remain in place for a year. Your Getty Images representative will discuss a renewal with you.

By clicking the Download button, you accept the responsibility for using unreleased content (including obtaining any clearances required for your use) and agree to abide by any restrictions.


Lazare Carnot

Lazare Carnot is one of the 72 scientists whose name is inscribed on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. He is 17th, on the west facing side.

Lazare-Nicolas-Marguerite Carnot, the great Carnot, mathematician, was born in Nolay, not far from Dijon, on May 13, 1753. He died, in exile, in Magdeburg on August 2, 1823. His tomb remained in the cemetery of this city with this simple epitaph: Carnot, until August 1889, when his ashes were brought back to France and solemnly deposited in the Pantheon, Paris. Scientific organizer of the victories of the first Republic, it belongs to this great military school generals of the late eighteenth century, who were good geometers and strong mathematicians.

Carnot was a learned writer, a poet in his spare time, a warm and faithful heart, a tender soul, a true patriot. In 1773, he graduated from the School of Military Engineering Mezieres, with the rank of lieutenant and in 1783, he was appointed captain seniority. It was at this time that he composed a eulogy of Vauban, which was crowned by the Academy of Dijon. He received this reward from the hands of the Prince de Conde, governor of Burgundy, future general of the Emigrants. This excellent work, as style and as thoughts, and which deserves to be published in a popular little book, earned Carnot the congratulations of a large number of characters, especially those of BufFon, Prince Henry of Prussia, brother of the great Frederick . About the same time, he also published an Essay on Machines, which he later gave a new augmented edition, under the title: "Balance and movement." At that time he occupied himself with the aerostats, and mingled with the debate which arose at that time relative to the various systems of fortification. He published memoirs on this subject in which he pronounced himself for the maintenance of the strongholds which he named Monuments of Peace, because, he said, they made it possible to diminish the permanent army and to leave to productive work the more robust population.

He ardently embraced the principles of the Revolution he went to sit in the Legislative Assembly, in the name of the Pas-de-Calais, next to his brother, Carnot-Feulins. Reelected to the National Convention by the same department, he was successively sent to Rayonne and Dunkirk to put the country in a state of defense against the aggressions of the Spaniards and the English. On August 14, 1783, he was appointed a member of the Committee of Public Safety, with special responsibility for the personnel and the army movement. France was at its lowest there was financial crisis, crisis of subsistence, military crisis. We know how she got up and we also know that Carnot was one of those who helped save her. By a work of eighteen to twenty hours a day, he was able to constitute, put into action and connect between them, by a common direction, the fourteen armies of the first Republic, to communicate to them the irresistible feeling of their strength, to launch them on the ways of the triumphs, to draw the plans of campaign, to inspire all the maneuvers, finally to organize scientifically the defense, the attack, the victory Carnot knew again with a sure glance to draw from lower ranks the heroes of the future, Hoche and so many others, and it was he who was able to guess Bonaparte and who made him carry, in spite of all the resistance of his colleagues, to the command of the army of Italy. Napoleon always remembered that Carnot had been his first protector, and Bonaparte was indeed the military son of the organizer of the victories. In spite of political events and dissensions, a tender sympathy never ceased to unite them to one another. Everything shows it. When, after the 18th Brumaire, Bonaparte opened the gates of France to Carnot, exiled by the people of Fructidor in 1797, he was appointed, by the first consul, inspector of the armies, then minister of the war, in 1800 but he never concealed his grief at seeing the Republic gradually disappear. He gave his resignation, and, appointed a member of the Tribunate, he voted against the Consulate for life, the creation of the Legion of Honor, and spoke alone against the plans of creation of the Empire, while putting out the person himself of Bonaparte, for whom he always preserved an infinite tenderness.

Bonaparte did not hold it against him, and when the Tribunate had been suppressed, Carnot declared that he wished to enter the retreat, he took steps to dissuade him, and not being able to make him return to his party, he said to him: "Monsieur Carnot, whatever you want, whenever you want and how you want. " Carnot never asked for anything, but at the supreme hour of setbacks and difficulties, after fourteen years of silence and meditation, he reappeared. He received the command of Antwerp in 1814. It was then clear that he who had directed all the armies of the Republic, named the generals, chose and advanced Bonaparte, and who had been a member of the Directory and Minister of War, had no other rank than that of chief of the engineer's battalion, to which he had come by seniority. Only he had forgotten. What a lesson for our time!

Carnot heroically defended Antwerp with an ancient integrity, he administered the city, which made him a statue on May 1, 1865. During the Hundred Days, Napoleon appointed Minister of the Interior Carnot, who signed the decrees and circulars: Carnot, count of the After Waterloo, he was a member of the Provisional Government of 1815 but soon proscribed for having preserved an unshakeable faith in the principles of the Revolution and a pious affection for Napoleon, he had to leave France, to wander in Poland and die in Germany. Modesty and fidelity have made the moral foundation of Carnot's great character. These are titles of glory that one would be wrong to neglect.

Lazare Carnot had an elder brother, who was a prominent jurisconsult of the Beccaria School. A lawyer in the Parliament of Dijon, Claude Carnot was a judge at Autun, commissioner of the new tribunals, then appointed by Napoleon to the Court of Cassation, where he sat until his death, arrived in 1835. Neither the first Restoration nor Louis XVIII, neither Charles X. nor Louis Philippe had dared to dismiss him because of his great reputation for integrity, virtue, and philanthropy. A leading criminal, he has published remarkable work on the science of criminal law. He always endeavored to triumph over the ideas of liberalism, of improvement, repulsing pitilessly all the severities of the legislators who think, by making laws, only to distribute, rightly and wrongly, punishment, the fine, of the prison. Like Alexis de Tocqueville, he thought that one can not put too much humanity in the laws. His masterpiece is a study on the Code of Criminal Instruction in harmony with humanity.

Carnot-Feulins (1755-1836), the second brother of Lazare Carnot, was deputy of Pas-de-Calais in the Legislative Assembly in 1791, and deputy of Saone et-Loire in the House of 1815. Lieutenant-General, he was a brave and brilliant officer. He left a History of the Directory, published in 1800 and is not without merit.

Lazare Carnot had two sons: 1 ° Sadi Carnot, born in 1796, who was a very remarkable scholar, a former student of the Ecole Polytechnique, who died prematurely, and who left work which proves a fertile and original spirit, on the mathematics, physics, and a book titled Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire and the Machines for Developing this Power. These documents were published in 1878, with a portrait, a facsimile of Sadi Carnot, by Mr. Hippolyte Carnot, at the publishers Gauthier-Villars et fils, in Paris 2 ° Hippolyte Carnot, born in 1801, who was minister in 1818 and died senator in 1888, leaving two sons, Mr. Sadi Carnot, president of the French Republic in December 1887, and Mr. Adolphe Carnot, engineer of Mines , chemist of high merit.

The city of Paris has given the name of Carnot to one of the major avenues that lead to the Arc de Triomphe of Etoile, at the end of the Champs-Elysees.

We have published a volume on the scientific work of the great Carnot. We allow ourselves to send back to it the reader, curious to have new information on the discoveries and the intellectual labors of this truly illustrious man.

The portrait is rare. He represents Carnot at the age of sixty. It was drawn after the original, executed in 1813 by Louis-Léopold Boilly, renowned painter of that time.


Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot

Lazare Carnot made his name as a mathematician and artillery officer under the ancien régime before turning to politics during the Revolution. A man of strong republican principles, he sat with the Mountain, a group formed by the more radical Revolutionaries, in the National Convention, becoming a member of the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror. On the committee he had responsibility for the war effort, and he exercised this with such skill and ingenuity that he turned the war around and was acclaimed with the sobriquet Organizer of Victory. After the fall of Robespierre he continued to serve under the Directory and the Consulate-as one of the five directors after 1795, as minister of war in 1800, and, despite his bitter opposition to the Empire, as an elected member of the Tribunate from 1802 to 1807.

Carnot was a man of true intellectual distinction, a mathematician of some talent who shared the intellectual curiosity of his age. He was born into the provincial bourgeoisie in the small town of Nolay in Burgundy, where his father was a royal notary and an avocat in the local parlement. He enjoyed a good education, showing a particular talent for mathematics, and-as a nonnoble who enjoyed none of the privileges that came with nobility-he chose to become an army officer in the only arm where he could hope to progress, the artillery. In 1770 he benefited from noble patronage to enter the Ecole de Génie at Mézieres in eastern France, where he studied with the distinguished scientist Gaspard Monge before graduating with a commission in 1773. From that point he could make a modest career in the military, though as a commoner he could only be promoted as far as the rank of captain-which, without the advent of the Revolution, is where he would probably have remained. Carnot was far more than a competent artillery officer, however. He was a mathematician of some note who enjoyed the intellectual challenge of finding solutions to algebraic puzzles and who did some notable work solving complex equations. He submitted papers for prize competitions, including prizes offered by the academies in Paris and Berlin, among them a dissertation on the mathematical concept of infinity. And he shared the general enthusiasm of his age for science and the application of science, applying his understanding of mathematics to the science of war, publishing papers on the value of traditional fortifications, on aerostats, and on the theory of machines. He was, in other words, an intellectual before he was an army officer, a son of the Enlightenment, a polymath who read widely in philosophy and literature as well as in the natural sciences, an avid reader who found inspiration in Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie and remained a close friend of one of its coauthors, the philosophe Jean d’Alembert.

And with his own ambition thwarted by the demands of noble privilege and the petty rules of precedence, he was exactly the sort of individualist who would throw himself eagerly into revolutionary politics after 1789, recognizing, like many other men of talent, that it was on the political stage that his talents could be best used in the service of the nation. In Carnot’s case, that conversion did not happen immediately, for though he wrote a thirteen-page address in September 1789 urging the immediate reform of the Royal Corps of Engineers-it appeared under the timely and seemingly revolutionary title Réclamation contre le régime oppressif sous lequel est gouverné le Corps Royal du Génie, en ce qu’il s’oppose aux progres de l’art-that was practically his only foray onto the national political stage under the National Constituent Assembly. If he was involved politically during this early period, it was on the local stage in the town of Saint-Omer. It was in 1791, with the elections to the Legislative Assembly, that he entered national politics, along with his brother as a deputy for the Department of the Pas-de-Calais. In the Legislative Assembly he did not make an immediate impression as an orator, but he quietly served on a number of committees and kept a watching brief on the many military reforms being proposed by the deputies. He sat with the deputies of the Left, showed a healthy suspicion of the motives of the king, and following the overthrow of the monarchy on 10 August was chosen-as were many of the more radical deputies- to go out on mission to the provinces, in his case to the Army of the Rhine. Thus, when he was elected to the Convention in September he already enjoyed something of a reputation as a critic of the monarchy, a man of generally radical views, and an army officer with a deep commitment to the cause of military reform. His approach and experience would prove invaluable to a country at war.

In the Convention Carnot sat with the Mountain, and though not a member of the Jacobin Club he won the trust of the inner circle of Jacobins by associating himself with many of their more radical policies. In the debate on the fate of Louis XVI he did not hesitate, voting for death and thus condemning himself in the eyes of the Bourbons as an extremist and a regicide. He was also respected by his fellow deputies for his military expertise and for the experience and good judgment he brought to a series of missions, including a vital one to the Army of the North between March and August 1793, which exposed the treason of General Charles Dumouriez and ordered his arrest. By the summer of 1793 France faced a military crisis of huge proportions, defeats and rumors of treason combining to sap confidence and morale. It was in these circumstances that the Committee of Public Safety-a committee composed of civilians and including no one of military experience- turned to Carnot. There were few soldiers among the members of the Convention, few who had the necessary background for the task in hand. That is why the committee asked for the services of Carnot along with another young army captain, Prieur de la Cote d’Or (Claude- Antoine Prieur-Duvernois), like Carnot a military reformer and a staunch Republican. In mid-August Carnot returned from the northern frontier to join the committee, where, along with Prieur and Robert Lindet, he was assigned responsibility for the organization and deployment of the armies.

This was the role in which Carnot would establish his reputation as a great war leader, as the man who turned the war around and imposed himself as the Organizer of Victory. The army he inherited was in a desperate plight, especially along the vital northern frontier against the Austrians: It was poorly trained and equipped and desperately short of horses and munitions it was threatened with starvation, defeated on the battlefield, and raddled by rumors of treason and allegations of cowardice. It was Carnot’s task to resolve personnel problems, to root out inadequate officers, and to establish some sort of strategic overview that could turn the army into an effective military force. The task was a massive one, given the huge size of the army and the troops’ lack of battle experience: The levée en masse was intended, after all, to enlist three-quarters of a million young recruits. They had to be armed and clothed, and provisions had to be found and paid for, all at a time when peasants were wary of the government’s new paper currency, the assignats, and when the sans-culottes were staking the claims of Paris and the cities above those of the military. Carnot had to organize logistical support for armies that were constantly on the move and that increasingly had to contend with civil as well as foreign emergencies- in 1793 alone troops were being redeployed at home to face the federalist revolt in Lyons and throughout much of the Midi, treason in Toulon, and civil war in the Vendée and the departments of the West.

He also had to deal with politics inside the army, too, as radicals like Louis Lavalette tried to radicalize the military and Maximilien Robespierre sought to purge the officer corps of aristocrats and political moderates. Carnot dealt with political reality as he found it. He was won over to the radical idea of a mass army and to the tactic of the bayonet charge, the benefit of speed that came with use of the bayonet (arme blanche). He sought to inspire the troops with news and propaganda, himself publishing a successful newspaper for the armies, La soirée du camp, which imitated the tropes and style of Jacques-René Hébert’s sans-culotte icon Le Pere Duchesne. In short, he showed himself to be a skilled communicator, a motivator of men. But he was also careful to hold himself aloof from the more Robespierrist elements on the committee and to root out the more extreme radicals from the offices of the Ministry of War. He distanced himself from Robespierre’s more extreme social policies, and he disliked Louis de Saint-Just’s terrorist approach to the military. This helped to ensure his survival in 1794 when the more loyal Robespierrists were purged at Thermidor.

Carnot not only survived he flourished, as a republican who had dissociated himself from the more extreme excesses of the Terror. Eight months later he was returned to the Council of Ancients, where he was chosen as one of the five directors with responsibility for running the war. He presented himself as a champion of the army and of public order, urging the harsh repression of the Babouvistes, the egalitarian radicals who were followers of Gracchus Babeuf, and promoting Napoleon Bonaparte to command the Army of Italy. Carnot’s career stumbled with the royalist coup at Fructidor, when the royalists took their revenge on their republican opponents by sentencing fiftythree deputies and two directors-Carnot and François Barthélemy-to be deported to the prison hulks of Cayenne, and Carnot was forced to flee to Geneva for safety. Amnestied by Bonaparte after Brumaire, he returned to government as minister of war from April to October 1800, but his strongly republican ideas and his openly stated belief that the years of war were bankrupting France did not endear him to the First Consul, who seemed happy to accept his resignation from office. He did not withdraw from politics, but he rapidly became a somewhat peripheral and disgruntled figure. Elected to the Tribunate in 1802, he showed himself increasingly alienated by Napoleon’s personal ambition and voted against both the Consul for Life and the proclamation of the Empire. Unlike many former Revolutionaries, Carnot had little appetite for office under the Empire. When the Tribunate was dissolved in 1807, he retired into private life with a pension from the government in recognition of past services. He took no part in the Napoleonic Wars until the final months, when, in 1814, as a Frenchman, a patriot, and an officer, he felt duty-bound to offer his services for the defense of the nation. He still proclaimed his republican principles, yet he ended his career as a général de division in the armies of the Emperor, directing the defense of Antwerp against the Allied armies in a desperate bid to prevent the fall of France and the reimposition of monarchy. Knowing that by 1814 there was no chance of a republic, Carnot used what influence he had in pursuit of a constitutional settlement. He pleaded with Louis XVIII to establish liberal institutions and a constitutional government, but he then turned back to Napoleon, accepting his assurances of greater liberalization and accepting office as minister of the interior during the Hundred Days.

After the Second Restoration Carnot knew that he could expect no mercy he stood twice condemned, as a regicide in 1793 and as a traitor to the Bourbon cause. He therefore chose voluntary exile, this time in Germany, where the respect in which he was held as a mathematician and a man of the Enlightenment ensured that he found employment he ended his long and turbulent career as a professor of mathematics in Magdeburg. Like many of his republican peers, he was never allowed back into France, and he died in Magdeburg in August 1823 at the age of seventy.

References and further reading Blanning, T. C. W. 1996. The French Revolutionary Wars, 1787-1802. London: Arnold. Brown, Howard G. 1995. War, Revolution and the Bureaucratic State: Politics and Army Administration in France, 1791-1799. Oxford: Clarendon. Carnot, Hippolyte. 1861-1864. Mémoires sur Carnot par son fils. 2 vols. Paris: Education de la jeunesse. Charnay, Jean-Pierre. 1990. Lazare Carnot, ou Le savantcitoyen. Paris: Presses de l’Université de Paris-Sorbonne. Dhombres, Jean, and Nicole Dhombres. 1997. Lazare Carnot. Paris: Fayard. Dupre, Huntley. 1940. Lazare Carnot, Republican Patriot. Oxford, OH: Mississippi Valley. Gillispie, Charles C. 1971. Lazare Carnot, Savant: A Monograph Treating Carnot’s Scientific Work. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Griffith, Paddy. 1998. The Art ofWar in Revolutionary France, 1789-1802. London: Greenhill. Lynn, John A. 1984. The Bayonets of the Republic: Motivation and Tactics in the Army of Revolutionary France, 1791-94. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Reinhard, Marcel, 1950-1952. Le Grand Carnot. 2 vols. Paris: Hachette.


Born Nolay (Burgundy, France), 13 May, 1753, died Magedeburg (Saxony, Prussia [Germany]) 22 August, 1823
Son of a lawyer (and notary) in the Parlement de Dijon
Capitaine du Génie during the Constituante period of the Revolution
Married Sophie Dupont (sister of his younger brother's wife) who brought him a comfortable dowry of 30 000 livres
During the Législative and the Convention – Député for the Pas-de-Calais region
Nominated member of the Grand comité de Salut public 1793-1795 during the Terreur
Député aux Anciens during the Directory
Exiled after the Fructidor coup d'Etat (his consequently vacated place in the Institut, which he had held since its inception, was taken by Bonaparte himself)
Received authorisation to return to France after Brumaire in 1799
Inspecteur général des armées, 7 February 1800
Minister for war from 2 April 1800 until his resignation on 8 October 1800
Tribune from 1802 until its dissolution on 19 August 1807
Governor of Antwerp 1814
Surrendered to Louis and the first restoration, 3 May 1814
During the Hundred Days, Carnot was appointed Archichancellier and Minister of Justice.
Made Comte de l'Empire by the decree of 20 March 1815 and thus entered the Chambre des Pairs des Cent-Jours
Member of the executive committee after Waterloo
Proscribed by a law of 24 July 1815
Lived in retirement in Warsaw and subsequently Magdeburg

After initial schooling at the Petit séminaire in Autun, Carnot went to the engineering military school, the Ecole du Génie de Mézières. His first career was as a second lieutenant engineer – he was to rise to the rank of General. Like Cambaceres and Fouché, but unlike all the other Napoleonic ministers, Carnot was one of the 'regicides' and had even sat on the Grand comité de Salut, the guiding body of the Terreur. He was on the other hand clearly in favour of the Thermidor coup which brought about the downfall of Robespierre and Saint-Just. His early successes in 1793/4 include the reorganisation of the Armée du Nord (victories at Wattignies and Maubeuge) and the creation from scratch (with Robert Lindet and Prieur de la Côte d'Or) and logistical support of eleven armies. The resulting crushing victory at Fleurus 26 June 1794, and the subsequent invasion of Belgium, Rhenanie and Holland (all made possible by Carnot's work) led to his being known as the ‘organiser of victory'. During the Directory Carnot was a member of the Chambre and subsequently became one the Directeurs, and he was essentially occupied with war matters. It was at then that he came into contact with Bonaparte. He was exiled after the Fructidor coup of September 1797 because he had (with the new director of the Cinq-Cents, Barthélemy) preferred to respect as he said the will of the people and their apparent Royalist tendencies revealed in the election to the Cinq-Cents of a majority of crypto-royalists and the president in the form of General Pichegru. Pardoned by Bonaparte on 26 December 1799 in the wake of the Brumaire coup, he returned to Paris on 19 January 1800. His brief term as minister for war ended in October of the same year and he retired to St-Omer. During his period as a Tribune he frequently opposed Napoleon, voting against the establishment of the Legion of Honour, the consulate for life and the establishment of the Empire (the only Tribune to do so). After a seven-year break from politics, he offered his services to Napoleon during the Campagne de France and was made governor of Antwerp. During the First Restoration, Carnot only finally rallied to Louis (before going into retirement), but not before Napoleon had abdicated and Carnot had carefully negotiated the surrender of Antwerp. He left Paris in the October of 1815 eventually dying in Magdeburg in Prussian Saxony.


1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Carnot, Lazare Nicolas Marguerite

CARNOT, LAZARE NICOLAS MARGUERITE (1753–1823), French general, was born at Nolay in Burgundy in 1753. He received his training as an engineer at Mézières, becoming an officer of the Corps de Génie in 1773 and a captain ten years later. He had then just published his first work, an Essai sur les machines en général. In 1784 he wrote an essay on balloons, and his. Éloge of Vauban, read by him publicly, won him the commendation of Prince Henry of Prussia. But as the result of a controversy with Montalembert, Carnot abandoned the official, or Vauban, theories of the art of fortification, and went over to the “perpendicular” school of Montalembert. He was consequently imprisoned, on the pretext of having fought a duel, and only released when selected to accompany Prince Henry of Prussia in a visit to Vauban’s fortifications. In 1791 he married. The Revolution drew him into political life, and he was elected a deputy for the Pas de Calais. In the Assembly he ​ took a prominent part in debates connected with the army. Carnot was a stern and sincere republican, and voted for the execution of the king. In the campaigns of 1792 and 1793 he was continually employed as a commissioner in military matters, his greatest service being in April 1793 on the north-eastern frontier, where the disastrous battle of Neerwinden and the subsequent defection of Dumouriez had thrown everything into confusion. After doing what was possible to infuse energy into the operations of the French forces, he returned to Paris and was made a member of the Committee of Public Safety. He was charged with duties corresponding to those of the modern chief of the general staff and adjutant-general. As a member of the committee he signed its decrees and was thus at least technically responsible for the acts of the Reign of Terror. His energies were, however, directed to the organization, not yet of victory, but of defence. His labours were incessant practically every military document in the archives of the committee was Carnot’s own work, and he was repeatedly in the field with the armies. His part in Jourdan’s great victory at Wattignies was so important that the credit of the day has often been assigned to Carnot. The winter of 1793–1794 was spent in new preparations, in instituting a severe discipline in the new and ill-trained troops of the republic, and in improvising means and material of war. He continued to visit the armies at the front, and to inspire them with energy. He acquiesced in the fall of Robespierre in 1794, but later defended Barère and others among his colleagues, declaring that he himself had constantly signed papers without reading them, as it was physically impossible to do so in the press of business. When Carnot’s arrest was demanded in May 1795, a deputy cried “Will you dare to lay hands on the man who has organized victory?” Carnot had just accepted promotion to the rank of major in the engineers. Throughout 1793, when he had been the soul of the national defence, and 1794, in which year he had “organized victory” in fourteen armies, he was a simple captain.

Carnot was elected one of the five Directors in November 1795, and continued to direct the war department during the campaign of 1796. Late in 1796 he was made a member (1st class) of the Institute, which he had helped to establish. He was for two periods president of the Directory, but on the coup d’état of the 18th Fructidor (1797) was forced to take refuge abroad. He returned to France after the 18th Brumaire (1799) and was re-elected to the Institute in 1800. Early in 1800 he became minister of war, and he accompanied Moreau in the early part of the Rhine campaign. His chief work was, however, in reducing the expenses of the armies. Contrary to the usual custom he refused to receive presents from contractors, and he effected much-needed reforms in every part of the military administration. He tendered his resignation later in the year, but it was long before the First Consul would accept it. From 1801 he lived in retirement with his family, employing himself chiefly in scientific pursuits. As a senator he consistently opposed the increasing monarchism of Napoleon, who, however, gave him in 1809 a pension and commissioned him to write a work on fortification for the school of Metz. In these years he had published De la corrélation des figures de géométrie (1801), Géométrie de position (1803), and Principes fondamentaux de l’équilibre et du mouvement (1803), all of which were translated into German. His great work on fortification appeared at Paris in 1810 (De la défense de places fortes) and was translated for the use of almost every army in Europe. He took Montalembert as his groundwork. Without sharing Montalembert’s antipathy to the bastioned trace, and his predilection for high masonry caponiers, he followed out the principle of retarding the development of the attack, and provided for the most active defence. To facilitate sorties in great force he did away with a counterscarp wall, providing instead a long gentle slope from the bottom of the ditch to the crest of the glacis. This, he imagined, would compel an assailant to maintain large forces in the advanced trenches, which he proposed to attack by vertical fire from mortars. Along the front of his fortress was built a heavy detached wall, loop-holed for fire, and sufficiently high to be a most formidable obstacle. This “Carnot wall,” and, in general, Carnot’s principle of active defence, played a great part in the rise of modern fortification.

He did not seek employment in the field in the aggressive wars of Napoleon, remaining a sincere republican, but in 1814, when France itself was once more in danger, Carnot at once offered his services. He was made a general of division, and Napoleon sent him to the important fortress of Antwerp as governor. His defence of that place was one of the most brilliant episodes of the campaign of 1814. On his return to Paris he addressed a political memoir to the restored king of France, which aroused much attention both in France and abroad. He joined Napoleon during the Hundred Days and was made minister of the interior, the office carrying with it the dignity of count, and on the 2nd of June he was made a peer of France. On the second Restoration he was proscribed. He lived thenceforward in Magdeburg, occupying himself still with science. But his health rapidly declined, and he died at Magdeburg on the 2nd of August 1823. His remains were solemnly removed to the Panthéon in 1889. Long before this, in 1836, Antwerp had erected a statue to its defender of 1814. In 1837 Arago pronounced his éloge before the Académie des Sciences. The sincerity of his patriotism and his political convictions was proved in 1801–1804 and in 1814. The memory of his military career is preserved in the title, given to him in the Assembly, of “The organizer of victory.” His sons, Sadi and L. Hippolyte, are separately noticed.

Authorities .—Baron de B . . . , Vie privée, politique, et morale de L. N. M. Carnot (Paris, 1816) Sérieys, Carnot, sa vie politique et privée (Paris, 1816) Mandar, Notice biographique sur le général Carnot, &c. (Paris, 1818) W. Körte, Das Leben L. N. M. Carnots (Leipzig, 1820) P. F. Tissot, Mémoires historiques et militaires sur Carnot (Paris, 1824) Arago, Biographie de Carnot (Paris, 1850) Hippolyte Carnot, Mémoires sur Carnot (Paris, 1863) C. Rémond, Notice biographique sur le grand Carnot (Dijon 1880) A. Picaud, Carnot, l’organisateur de la victoire (Paris, 1885 and 1887) A. Burdeau, Une Famille de patriotes (Paris, 1888) L. Hennet, Lazare Carnot (Paris, 1888) G. Hubbard, Une Famille républicaine (Paris, 1888) M. Dreyfous, Les Trois Carnot (Paris, 1888) M. Bonnal, Carnot, d’après les archives, &c. (Paris, 1888) and memoir by E. Charavaray in La Grande Encyclopédie.


Political rise and fall

On August 14, 1793, the Convention appointed Carnot a member of the Committee of Public Safety. Shortly after, he set out again for the Army of the North, while the enemy besieged Maubeuge. This mission ended in the victory of Wattignies on October 16, 1793, and in the raising of the siege of Maubeuge. Once again Carnot, at the side of the generals, led the attack and entered the recaptured town alongside them. At the end of the month, he resumed his seat on the Committee of Public Safety.

From then on, Carnot devoted himself to the work of the Committee, concentrating on the conduct of military operations, although he did not entirely divorce himself from general policy. From the very start Carnot demanded that the ancient tactic of line combat be abandoned, advocating instead attack by masses concentrated at decisive points eventually his views were adopted by the entire Committee. Carnot took a dominant part in the development of campaign plans, which were discussed by the entire Committee.

Beginning in May 1794, dissensions arose within the Committee of Public Safety between Carnot and Robespierre and Louis de Saint-Just, all of whom were of equally authoritarian and unyielding temperament. Carnot, basically a conservative, did not approve of the egalitarian aims of the social policy of Robespierre and his followers. If he did not play a decisive role during the coup of 9 Thermidor, year II (July 27, 1794), which overthrew Robespierre and marked the end of the Reign of Terror, Carnot must at least have approved of the fall of Robespierre.

Subsequently, however, Carnot’s role began to diminish. He continued to occupy himself with directing military operations for another few months, but he soon had to defend himself against attacks by the executors of the Thermidorian coup, aimed without distinction against all former members of the Committee of Public Safety. Thus, in March 1795, in an attempt to dissociate himself from his former colleagues, he claimed that each of them was responsible only for the duty with which he was charged and that the signatures to decrees regarded as reprehensible were only a formality. Yet Carnot did not succeed in silencing the charges. In May 1795, when an obscure deputy demanded the arrest of all the members of the former committees and named Carnot, he was saved by another deputy who shouted, “He organized the victory.”

Carnot was elected to the Directory, the French government from 1795 to 1799, the executive branch of which consisted of five directors and he became even more conservative than before. When the elections of the spring of 1797 brought in a royalist majority, Carnot bowed to the results, so that during the coup d’état of 18 Fructidor, year V (September 4, 1797), which quashed the elections, he had to flee in order to escape arrest. He crossed into Germany and settled in Nürnberg.

After the coup d’état of 18 Brumaire, year VII (November 9, 1799), which brought Napoleon Bonaparte to power as first consul of France, Carnot returned. He was minister of war for a few months in 1800 but resigned. Appointed in 1802 a member of the Tribunat, a body chosen by the Senate to debate legislation, he fought the authoritarian development of the consular regime, opposed the institution of the Legion of Honour, voted against bestowing on Napoleon the consulate for life, and courageously opposed the establishment of the empire under Napoleon. He continued, however, to hold a seat on the Tribunat until that assembly was suppressed in 1807, when he withdrew from public life.

The allied invasion of 1814 forced him out of retirement. Napoleon appointed him governor of the town of Antwerp, where he remained until after the fall of the empire. Carnot sided with the Restoration under Louis XVIII, but in July 1814 he published his Mémoire au roi en juillet 1814, in which he denounced the excesses of the reaction under the Bourbon king. During the Hundred Days, when Napoleon attempted to reestablish his power, Carnot served as minister of the interior, and, after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, Carnot encouraged him to resist, but in vain. The Second Restoration marked the end of Carnot’s political career.

In July 1815 Carnot was exiled from France. He left Paris in October and settled at Warsaw in January 1816. In August 1816 Carnot left Warsaw for Magdeburg, where he died seven years later.

The Third Republic, eager to acquire ancestors, exalted Carnot’s memory, consecrating him as “the Organizer of Victory.” When his grandson, Sadi Carnot, nephew of the scientist Sadi Carnot, was president of the republic, the ashes of Lazare Carnot were placed in the Panthéon in Paris. Carnot was indeed “the Organizer of Victory” but only in collaboration with the other members of the Committee of Public Safety, with whom he shared responsibility for the Terror as well. For although the Committee of Public Safety was able to raise, equip, arm, and feed 14 armies and lead them to victory, it succeeded only by means of a mass levy, mass requisitions, and nationalization of military production—measures that were based on the revolutionary government’s use of force, that is, an authority relying on the Terror. The characterization of Lazare Carnot as “the Organizer of Victory” is a legend created by the victors of the Thermidor coup, who, holding those vanquished in the coup responsible for the Terror, surrounded the survivors with all the brilliance of the victory.


Watch the video: 2012 01 28 01 Opening remarks by Nicolai Levashov (July 2022).


Comments:

  1. Daitilar

    The excellent answer, gallantly :)

  2. Sebastien

    Post something else

  3. Dora

    Speak to the point

  4. Boaz

    whether there are analogs?

  5. Cace

    if blown away by the wind?

  6. Brenden

    You are absolutely right. In it something is also I think, what is it good thought.

  7. Arashinris

    What an excellent question



Write a message