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LETTER PATENT SIGNED BY NAPOLEON IN 1812

NAPOLEON. Document signed. Paris: December 30, 1812. One vellum leaf measuring 17 by 22-1/2 inches, printed on the recto and finished by hand; handsomely framed, entire piece measures 25 by 28-1/2 inches. $8500.

Large letter patent boldly signed by Napoleon ("Np") in 1812 renewing the military appointment of Provençal soldier Jean-Joseph Dejoannier, assigned to Jerome Bonaparte, King of Westphalia's army.

This document, issued on December 30, 1812 at the Tuileries Palace in Paris, states that Jean-Joseph Dejoannier, a 42-year old Postal Director of the Army of the King of Westphalia, born in Nice, may remain in that position. Napoleon Bonaparte relied on family members and trusted friends to help him rule his extensive empire. His siblings, cousins, and in-laws married into the ruling families of territories that he had recently conquered or consolidated. In this way, he could rule by proxy through the House of Bonaparte in Italy, Naples, Spain, Holland, and Westphalia. His youngest brother Jerome Bonaparte (1784-1860) became the leader of one of these French puppet states, the Kingdom of Westphalia. Jerome ruled Westphalia, a region in modern-day western Germany, between 1807-1813 after marrying a local princess, Catherine de Wurtemberg. Jerome was only 25 when he ascended the made-up throne, and was by all accounts a reckless and unpopular leader. He went into hiding after Napoleon's 1814 abdication.

Napoleon signed this document in the aftermath of his humiliating retreat from Moscow. His Grande Armée had marched into Russia in June 1812 with 685,000 men. The army reached Moscow in September, 1812, but it was a Pyrrhic victory as the capital was already abandoned and Tsar Alexander I refused to negotiate a surrender. Napoleon eventually retreated through Western Russia with what was left of his armies. Costly battles, sickness, starvation, and extreme cold had reduced his principal fighting force to 45% of its original number. Undeterred by the colossal failure of the Russian invasion, Napoleon was already beginning to rebuild his armies, and those of his satellites. Just two weeks after authorizing this military appointment, on January 11, 1813, the French Senate would approve the mobilization of 350,000 French troops. Cosigned by Claude Ambroise Régnier, Duke of Massa as the Minister of Justice, and by the Interim Secretary of State Jean-Baptiste de Nompere, Duke de Cadore. Text in French.

Document near-fine, with light expected folds, a few slightly darkened edges, and one manuscript line slightly rubbed, likely due to a contemporary correction. Napoleon's signature bold.

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