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 Nonetheless, he was in command of the French III Corps in Spain in 1809 before being reassigned to a command in Germany. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint-Henri of Saxony before again returning to Spain where he captured Astroga in April 1810 after a siege. He commanded the center at the defeat at Busaco and was then victorious at Sobral and Rio Mayor. At the latter he sustained a wound on his nose from a ball, but was well enough to serve
at Fuentes de Onoro before returning to France. He returned for duty during the Russian campaign but
was noted by Napoleon to no longer be the same man and allowed the Russians to escape during the Battle of Smolensk. After returning to France, Junot continued his downward spiral, but he still retained Napoleon’s favor and was made governor of Venice and governor general of the Illyrian Provinces in Eastern Europe. His behavior became such that he had to be removed and escorted back to his father’s estate at Montbard. The exact circumstances of his death are not clear, but by
many accounts, he committed suicide at Montbard near the end of July 1813. In some versions, he supposedly hosted a ball before leaping from a window to his death.
As Junot spiraled out of control, Napoleon’s fortunes were also in decline. Napoleon had steadily expanded the French Empire and its allied states both to the east and west. He invaded Russia with his Grande Armee of more than 450,000 soldiers in 1812 despite warnings from his officers. Though Napoleon had succeeded
in capturing Moscow, the Russian’s burned the city
and retreated further east rather than surrender as Napoleon had expected. Instead, he began a brutal retreat back to France that ultimately saw his army reduced to less than 40,000 men as they marched through the brutal Russian winter with little provisions. After rebuilding the army, Napoleon was once again forced to fight in the War of the Sixth Coalition, this time against Russia, Prussia, Austria, Sweden, Great
Britain, Spain, and Portugal. Despite initial victories, Napoleon’s army was steadily reduced, including in the bloody Battle of Leipzig in October 1813. As his forces suffered additional defeats, Napoleon was forced to retreat to France but was pursued by the Allies who captured Paris in March of 1814. Napoleon suggested an attempt to retake the city, but, instead, his officers, many who had fought under him for years, mutinied, and Napoleon abdicated on April 4. The Allies pinned the blame for the years of war on Napoleon, and exiled him to Elba in an attempt to prevent future uprisings against the French monarchy. Louis XVIII became King of France in the Bourbon Restoration, and for the time, many of the liberties won during the French Revolution were lost.
Naturally, many in France remained committed to the revolutionary ideals and to Napoleon despite his exile and the restoration of monarchy. After less than a year in exile, Napoleon escaped and returned to France in
March 1815 where he was received as a hero as he built an army, including entire regiments defecting from Louis XVIII to rejoin Napoleon’s cause. In addition to
his existing popularity, Napoleon promised the French significant constitutional reforms which he worked
to put into effect the same month. The king fled Paris before Napoleon and his army arrived, and royalist forces put up sparse resistance. Meanwhile, Napoleon prepared for war with the rest of Europe. His L’Armee du Nord alone was 130,000 strong and consisted of many veteran soldiers and officers from the earlier wars, but he was outnumbered from the start. Napoleon
was aggressive nonetheless and attacked, attempting to defeat the Seventh Coalition’s independent armies before they could unify and intending to force various powers to the negotiating table as he had done time and time again before. His army set out to Belgium in the fateful Waterloo Campaign targeting the British and Prussian forces.

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