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Lazare Nicolas Marguerite, Carnot

Lazare Nicolas Marguerite, Count Carnot (13 May 1753 – 2 August 1823) was a French mathematician, physicist and politician

Reference: CARNOT
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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.


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