He originally intended to follow his father's business; but having in 1792 served as volunteer in the cavalry of the national guard at Lyons, he manifested military abilities which secured his rapid promotion. As chef de bataillon he was present at the siege of Toulon in 1793, where he took General O'Hara prisoner.
During the Italian campaign of 1796 he was severely wounded at Cerea on October 11. In October 1797 he was appointed to the command of a demi-brigade, and his services, under Joubert in the Tirol in that year, and in Switzerland under Brune in 1797-98, were recognized by his promotion to the rank of general of brigade.
He took no part in the Egyptian campaign, but in August was made chief of the staff to Brune, and restored the efficiency and discipline of the army in Italy. In July 1799 he was made general of division and chief of staff to Joubert in Italy, and was in 1800 named by Massena his second in command. His dexterous resistance to the superior forces of the Austrians with the left wing of Massena's army, when the right and centre were shut up in Genoa, not only prevented the invasion of France from this direction but contributed to the success of Napoleon's crossing the Alps, which culminated in the battle of Marengo on June 14. He took a prominent part in the Italian campaign till the armistice of Treviso.
In the campaigns of 1805 and 1806 he greatly increased his reputation at Austerlitz, Saalfeld, Jena, Pultusk and Ostrolenka. He obtained the title of count on March 19 1808, married Mlle-de Saint Joseph, a niece of Joseph Bonaparte's wife, and soon afterwards was ordered to Spain. Here, after taking part in the siege of Saragossa, he was named commander of the army of Aragon and governor of the province, which, by wise and (unlike that of most of the French generals) disinterested administration no less than by his brilliant valour, he in two years brought into complete submission. He annihilated the army of Blake at Maria on June 14 1809, and on April 22 1810 defeated O'Donnell at Lerida.
After being made marshal of France (July 8, 1811) he in 1812 achieved the conquest of Valencia, for which he was rewarded with the title of duc d'Albufera da Valencia (1812). When the tide set against the French Suchet defended his conquests step by step till compelled to retire into France, after which he took part in Soult's defensive campaign. By Louis XVIII he was on June 4 made a peer of France, but, having during the Hundred Days commanded one of Napoleon's armies on the Alpine frontier, he was deprived of his peerage on the 24th of July 1815. He died near Marseilles on January 3 1826.
Suchet wrote Mémoires dealing with the Peninsular War, which were left by the marshal in an unfinished condition, and the two volumes and atlas appeared in 1829-1834 under the editorship of his former chief staff officer, Baron St Cyr-Nogues.
See CH Barault-Roullon, Le Marechal Suchet (Paris, 1854); Choumara, Considerations militaires sur les memoires du Marechal Suchet (Paris, 1840), a controversial work on the last events of the Peninsular War, inspired, it is supposed, by Soult; and Lieutenant-General Lamarque's obituary notice in the Spectateur militaire (1826).
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.