1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Victor-Perrin, Claude

VICTOR-PERRIN, CLAUDE, Duke of Belluno (1764-1841), marshal of France, was born at La Marche (Vosges) on the 7th of December 1764. In 1781 he entered the army as a private soldier, and after ten years' service he received his discharge and settled at Valence. Soon afterwards he joined the local volunteers, and distinguishing himself in the war on the Alpine frontier, in less than a year he had risen to the command of a battalion. For his bravery at the siege of Toulon in 1793 he was raised to the rank of general of brigade. He afterwards served for some time with the army of the Eastern Pyrenees, and in the Italian campaign of 1796-97 he so acquitted himself at Mondovi, Roveredo and Mantua that he was promoted to be general of division. After commanding for some time the forces in the department of La Vendée, he was again employed in Italy, where he did good service against the papal troops, and he took a very important part in the battle of Marengo. In 1802 he was governor of the colony of Louisiana for a short time, in 1803 he commanded the Batavian army, and afterwards he acted for eighteen months (1805-6) as French plenipotentiary at Copenhagen. On the outbreak of hostilities with Prussia he joined the V. army corps (Marshal Lannes) as chief of the general staff. He distinguished himself at Saalfeld and Jena, and at Friedland he commanded the I. corps in such a manner that Napoleon gave him the marshalate. After the peace of Tilsit he became governor of Berlin, and in 1808 he was created duke of Belluno. In the same year he was sent to Spain, where he took a prominent part in the Peninsular War (especially at Espinosa, Talavera, Barrosa and Cadiz), until his appointment in 1812 to a corps command in the invasion of Russia. Here his most important service was in protecting the retreating army at the crossing of the Beresina. He took an active part in the wars of 1813-14, till in February of the latter year he had the misfortune to arrive too late at Montereau-sur-Yonne. The result was a scene of violent recrimination and his supersession by the emperor, who transferred his command to Gérard. Thus wounded in his amour-propre, Victor now transferred his allegiance to the Bourbon dynasty, and in December 1814 received from Louis XVIII. the command of the second military division. In 1815 he accompanied the king to Ghent, and on the second restoration he was made a peer of France. He was also president of a commission which inquired into the conduct of the officers during the Hundred Days, and dismissed Napoleon's sympathizers. In 1821 he was appointed war minister and held this office for two years. In 1830 he was major-general of the royal guard, and after the revolution of that year he retired altogether into private life. His death took place at Paris on the 1st of March 1841.

His papers for the period 1793-1800 have been published (Paris, 1846).