to Appear at the Swearing-In of Napoleon as
Napoleon (Secretarial Signature)
H. B. Maret; Secretary of State (Original Signature)
Napoleon's minister of foreign affairs from 1811 to 1813. LS. ("H. B. Maret"). 1p. Folio. St. Cloud, France, 4 Brumaire Year 13 (October 25, 1804). Written in a fine secretarial hand. To Mr. Nogaret, Administrator of Herault. In French.
Divine Providence and the constitutions of the Empire having bestowed the hereditary Imperial dignity upon our family, we have designated the 11 day of the next month of Frimaire* for the ceremony of our anointing and coronation; we would have wished to be able, upon this august occasion, to assemble in one place the universality of the citizens who compose the French nation. However, in view of the impossibility of fulfilling this wish, which would have so warmed our heart, yet desiring that the solemnities receive their principal spur from the gathering of the most distinguished citizens, and since I must swear an oath, in their presence, to the French people, in conformance with article 52 of the Act of the Constitutions, dated 28 of Floreal, of the Year 12** we are sending you this letter and ask that you appear in Paris before the 7 of the next month of Frimaire, and that you announce your arrival to our grandmaster of ceremonies.
**May 18, 1804; the date of the formation of the First Empire, and Napoleon’s confirmation as emperor by the Senate
The document is secretarially signed for Napoleon, but bears Maret’s original signature beneath his title, Secretary of State. Maret conducted several important diplomatic missions for Napoleon, and was raised to the nobility in 1809. Unlike other ministers of state, Maret traveled with Napoleon and his armies as part of his personal staff. According to John R. Elting’s, Swords Around A Throne, Maret was the pivot of Napoleon’s civilian rule. Genial and fond of witty conversation and clever women, Maret was an outstanding executive, tough under stress, brave under fire. He received the reports of the non-military Paris ministries, studied their contents, and briefed them for Napoleon, attaching his own recommendations where pertinent. Subsequently he sent back Napoleon’s decisions over his own signature. Later, after Talleyrand’s thefts and betrayals became too unendurable, Maret was promoted to Foreign Minister. In that capacity, he shifted his office forward to Warsaw and then to Vilna in 1812; his energy in collecting supplies and reinforcements was a generally overlooked salvation for the retreating Grande Armee.