Lazare Hoche 1768-1797
Lazare Hoche 1768-1797

Handsome. Young. Successful. French.

Within a very short life, French General Lazare Hoche achieved remarkable victories. He died aged 29.

Image Above

Lazare Hoche 1768-1797


Bibliothèque Nationale Paris

Hoche's Character

Hoche was a brave and decisive military leader.

His pleasant manners and appearance were in balance with a frankness that underlined his resolution and determination. He treated others with decency.

In other words, he was the whole package. And one wonders what he would have accomplished had he died of old age.


Hoche's Early Years

Louis Lazare Hoche was born on June 24, 1768, at Versailles, France. At the time, Louis XV was the king of France and the map looked like this:

France in Provinces, showing the Customs Frontiers, 1769 - 1789
1769 - 1789 France

Lazare's father, a former soldier, was responsible for the royal hounds in the King's kennels.

His mother died two years after his birth. He was brought up by his aunt, who earned her living by selling fruits and vegetables at the market at Montreuil, on the outskirts of Versailles.


18 Rue de Satory, Versailles, France 18 Rue de Satory, Versailles, France 18 Rue de Satory, Versailles, France
Hoche's Birthplace at 18 Rue de Satory, Versailles, France
Left, right: Wiki. Center: TopicTopos


Just Around the Corner from the Palace of Versailles: 18 Rue de Satory, Versailles, France (red pin)
Hoche Sr. Had a Short Commute. He Lived Just Around the Corner from the Palace.
18 Rue de Satory, Versailles, France (red pin)

Google map


In 1774, King Louis XV died and his grandson became King Louis XVI.

In 1784, young Lazare enlisted with the French Guards. He was 16 years old.

On July 14, 1789, the French Revolution broke out.

France 1789
1789 France


Hoche and the War of the First Coalition

The War of the First Coalition (part of the  French Revolutionary Wars) broke out on April 20, 1792. The war would outlive Hoche by a month.

Eastern France 1792
1792-1795 Eastern France


In September 1792, Hoche was promoted to captain.

Until October 1793, Hoche fought in the Army of the North invading the Austrian Netherlands.

Belgium 1792
Map of Belgium in 1792


The French guillotined their king Louis XVI on January 21, 1793.

On May 15, 1793, Hoche was promoted to adjudant-chef de bataillon.

On August 21, 1793, he took Furnes (Veurne) at the Battle of Furnes.


At the Siege of Dunkerque (also Dunkirk), a seaport town fortified by Vauban back in the days, Hoche was in charge of the defense. His superior was French General Joseph Souham. The Siege of Dunkerque lasted from August 23 to September 8, 1793. The British besiegers had to withdraw.

Part of the British army retreated to Nieuport. On October 24, 1793, the French began the Siege of Nieuport (Nieuwpoort), but abandoned the blockade a few days later when a detachment of Hessians arrived as reinforcement for the British.


On October 31, 1793, Hoche was promoted to général de division and put in charge of the Army of the Moselle.

Incidentally, on October 27, 1793, Jean-Charles Pichegru was made commander of the Army of the Rhine.


Hoche was defeated at the Battle of Kaiserslautern (November 28-30, 1793.)


The two generals Hoche and Pichegru together, but led by Hoche, drove the Austro-Prussian forces from Alsace in December 1793.

Rhine River 1792 - 1796
Map of Rhine River and Moselle River 1792-1796


In this campaign's last report, Hoche announced his wish to resign:

"Now that the goal is reached, I would like to not have any longer the responsibility of the command of the Army of the Moselle. The two together are a burden too heavy for a head of twenty-six years."


Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, former commander of the Army of the North, became the new commander of the Army of the Moselle in March 1794.


On March 11, 1794, Hoche married Anne Adelaide Dechaux.


The Trap

Hoche's victorious Rhine campaign had propelled him right into the crosshair of envy that was maneuvered by ambitious revolutionaries such as Saint-Just,  Robespierre, and of course Pichegru, who wrongly claimed to have been the mastermind behind the campaign.

Hoche was well aware of the fact that a dark cloud was forming over his head. And it poured down on him as follows:

He received a communication from the Committee of Public Safety informing him that, as a reward for and in recognition of his outstanding services, he was given the new assignment to serve in the Army of Italy. He was their person of choice. It was up to him to accomplish this difficult task, he, in whom the Committee fully trusted because he was the most capable person in the country, and, in summary, the only one who could do the job.

Hoche obeyed.


On August 27, 1793, French Republican General Custine had been guillotined.

On November 17, 1793, French Republican General Houchard had been guillotined.

On December 31, 1793, French Republican General Biron had been guillotined.

On January 4, 1794, French Republican General Luckner had been guillotined.

These were the days of the
 Reign of Terror.

And here is more about the guillotine.


Pichegru and Prison

General Jean-Charles Pichegru accused Hoche of treason. Hoche was arrested on March 21, 1794.

On that day, Hoche had barely arrived at the headquarters of the Army of Italy, which were located at Nice, when General Pierre Jadart Dumerbion, commander of the Army of Italy, presented him with a message from the Committee of Public Safety advising him that he was relieved of his duties.

The arrest order was signed by Lazare Carnot and Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois.

As escorted prisoner, Hoche arrived in Paris on April 12, 1794, where he was brought before the Committee of Public Safety. Addressing Louis de Saint-Just, Hoche demanded justice, to which Saint-Just dryly replied, "We will give you very soon the justice that you deserve."

For five weeks, Hoche was imprisoned at the Carmelite Prison (Prison des Carmes) at Paris. On May 16, 1794, he was transferred to the Conciergerie, the only way out of which was via the scaffold.

Hoche wrote an appeal to  Robespierre but the letter wasn't forwarded.

The revolution of the 9th Thermidor (July 27, 1794) saved Hoche's neck. On July 28, 1794, Maximilien de Robespierre and Louis de Saint-Just were guillotined.

Hoche was released on August 4, 1794.


Lazare and Josephine

Josephine de Beauharnais, future wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, was imprisoned at the Prison des Carmes, a former convent of the Carmelites, from April 20, 1794, until August 6, 1794.

Hoche was imprisoned at the Carmes from April 12, 1794, until May 16, 1794.

Josephine's husband, Alexandre de Beauharnais, lost his head in June 1794.

After her release, Josephine had an affair with Paul-François-Jean-Nicolas de Barras, at the time one of the most powerful men in the country.

She moved on to Lazare Hoche until she decided to marry Bonaparte in March 1796, who was commander of the Army of Italy at the time.


Hoche and the Wars of the Vendee

Another chapter of the  French Revolutionary Wars were the Wars of the Vendée, a rebellion that had been costing lives in western France since February 1793. General Lazare Hoche would be the man to end these wars.

Britanny and Vendee
1793-1796 Brittany and Vendee


In November 1794, Hoche was made commander of the Army of Brest which was merged with the Army of the Coasts of Cherbourg. Hoche found his soldiers in utter disorder and ill-discipline and had to reorganize the lot.

The republicans concluded two peace treaties with the royalist rebels:

On February 17, 1795, the Treaty of La Jaunaye (Traité de La Jaunaye) was signed by Charette (François-Athanase Charette de La Contrie) and other rebel leaders.

On April 9, 1795, the Treaty of Mabilais was signed by the Chouans (named after the nickname of their leader Jean Cotterreau aka Jean Chouan).

The royalists accepted the Republic and, in turn, were granted general amnesty.

At least on paper.

Unrest recommenced and, in addition, the rebellion got a second wind in June 1795, when a British fleet arrived at
Quiberon Bay with boatloads of French  émigrés who carried British arms and felt spunky.

The Battle of Quiberon was fought on June 27, 1795.

Battle of Quiberon Bay - November 20, 1759
1795 Battle of Quiberon Bay - June 27


In December 1795, Hoche was made commander in chief of the
Army of the Coasts of the Ocean (L’armée des Côtes de l’Océan). By July 1796 he had the situation under control.

The Wars of the Vendee were over.

Unlike the last time Hoche had a successful campaign, this time the government rewarded Hoche with a real gift — two fine horses and a select pair of Versailles pistols.


Hoche and the Ireland Expedition

On February 12, 1796, Irish revolutionary Wolfe Tone arrived in Paris to promote his idea of a French landing in Ireland to shake off British rule.

Mutual hatred of the British prompted the Directory to get into bed with Tone. On July 20, 1796, Hoche was put in charge of the expedition. Tone was made adjutant general.

On December 15, 1796, the expedition sailed from Brest with an impressive 43 ships and 14,450 troops. Admiral Bouvet was in charge of the fleet. General Hoche sailed aboard the Fraternité.

Vicious storms and dense fog ended the expedition. On December 22, 1796, part of the armada reached Bantry Bay in south-west Ireland (see map,) but a landing was out of the question.

Ireland 1660 - 1800
Ireland 1660 - 1800

By January 14, 1797, most ships were back at Brest. The others didn't make it.


Hoche's Final Year

On February 13, 1797, Hoche left to take his new command of the Army of the Sambre and Meuse, thus continuing his fight in the War of the First Coalition.

On April 18, 1797, Hoch defeated the Austrians, led by Franz von Werneck, at the Battle of Neuwied.

In July 1797, the Directory fired its Minister of War, Claude Louis Petiet, and named Hoche new head of the department. However, the post of minister legally required to be at least 40 years old. Hoche's appointment had to be revoked.


Hoche went back to his army headquarters at Wetzlar (county of Nassau, today Hesse, Germany) where he suddenly died on September 19, 1797.

A month later, on October 17, 1797, the War of the First Coalition ended with the  Treaty of Campo Formio.

Central Europe 1797
1797 Central Europe



Hoche's Cause of Death

In his Mémoires, the Minister of Police, Joseph Fouché, is convinced that it was poison that ended Lazare Hoche's life.

In his Lazare Hoche biography, Emile de Bonnechose notes that an autopsy had been inconclusive:

His body was opened and in his stomach was found residue of what could have been poison, enough perhaps to legitimize the suspicions, but not enough to confirm them.


Hoche might have died of pneumonia.

In his Diary, Wolfe Tone wrote on September 13, 1797, that Hoche

has been very ill with a violent cold and has still a cough, which makes me seriously uneasy about him;

[...] he is dreadfully altered and has a dry hollow cough that it is distressing to the last degree to hear him. I should be sincerely and truly sorry if anything were to happen him, but I very much fear he will scarcely throw off his present illness.



Louis-Lazare Hoche
Louis-Lazare Hoche
Oil on canvas by François Gerard, 1836



More History

Previous Page

Lazare Carnot

Back to

First Page

Back to
People in History
Main Page


Next Page

Lee Harvey Oswald


People in History A - Z


People in History by Group

Explorers, Scientists & Inventors

Musicians, Painters & Artists

Poets, Writers & Philosophers

Native Americans & The Wild West

First Ladies





Royal Families

Tribes & Peoples


King John of England 1167-1216


Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible 1530 - 1584


Adolf Hitler 1889 - 1945



Famous Speeches in History
Browse the speech archive:

Speeches by Topic A-Z

Speeches by Speaker A-Z

Speeches in Chronological Order

Speeches Given by Women

Speeches Given by African-Americans

Speeches Given by U.S. Presidents

Wars, Battles & Revolutions in History


Fall of the Bastille - July 14, 1789


American Timeline 1492-Today


Forms of Government




The Divine Almanac - The Who's Who of Ancient Gods


Gilgamesh - His City, His People, His Epic


The Ancient Greeks in a Nutshell


All Things Nixon


Famous Animals in History


Greco-Persian Wars
Also called the Persian Wars, the Greco-Persian Wars were fought for almost half a century from 492 to 449 BC. Greece won against enormous odds. Here is more:

Battle of Marathon
Battle of Thermopylae
Battle of Salamis
Battle of Plataea



Mexican Revolution

The Mexican Revolution

Check out the
Timelines of the Mexican Revolution

Mexico's transition from dictatorship to constitutional republic translated into ten messy years of skirmishing in Mexican history.

More from the Mexican Revolution:

Pancho Villa

Emiliano Zapata

Francisco I. Madero

Causes of the Mexican Revolution

Women in the Mexican Revolution

Summary of the Mexican Revolution



Online History Dictionary A - Z

Online History Dictionary A - Z



About Mata Hari


Attila the Hun
More about the greatest of all Barbarian rulers:

Attila short biography

Map of Attila's empire

Battle of the Catalaunian Plains

Who were the Huns?



Forms of Government


Ever Wondered How to
Tutor a Problem Child?

Observe and learn from Seneca.

Suicide optional.



Picture Archive


Picture Archive A - C

Picture Archive D - M

Picture Archive N - Z


Historical Castles and Palaces
Historical Castles and Palaces



Ivan the Terrible
Was the man really all that dreadful?

More about Ivan IV, aka The Terrible


Joan of Arc in a Nutshell



Governments of Rome
Governments of Rome



French Revolution 1789–1799

Timelines of the French Revolution

French Revolution: Year 1789

French Revolution: Year 1790

French Revolution: Year 1791


French Revolutionary Wars 1792-1802

Timelines of the French Revolutionary Wars

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1792

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1793

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1794

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1795

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1796

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1797

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1798

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1799

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1800

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1801

French Revolutionary Wars: Year 1802
































French Revolution - Its Causes, Its Victims, Its Effects


People in History

People in History A

People in History B

People in History Ca - Char

People in History Chas - Cz

People in History D

People in History E

People in History F

People in History G

People in History H

People in History I

People in History J - K

People in History L

People in History M

People in History N - O

People in History P - Q

People in History R

People in History S

People in History T

People in History U - Z

Explorers, Scientists & Inventors

Musicians, Painters & Artists

Poets, Writers & Philosophers

Native Americans & The Wild West

First Ladies





Royal Families

Tribes & Peoples


Wars, Battles & Revolutions

Wars & Revolutions A

Wars & Revolutions B - E

Wars & Revolutions F - G

Wars & Revolutions H - J

Wars & Revolutions K - O

Wars & Revolutions P - R

Wars & Revolutions S - Z

Wars & Revolutions Chronological

Battles A - C

Battles D - G

Battles H - L

Battles M - P

Battles Q - Z

Battles Ancient Times - 1499

Battles 1500 - 1699

Battles 1700 - 1799

Battles 1800 - 1899

Battles 1900 - Today


History Dictionary A - F

History Dictionary G - Z

Source Text - By Title

Source Text - By Author

Historic Documents A - K

Historic Documents L - Z

Historic Documents Chronological

Music in History

History Movies



Kids & History


About Us

Write Me



Sitemap 01   Sitemap 02   Sitemap 03    Sitemap 04   Sitemap 05   Sitemap 06  
Sitemap 07   Sitemap 08   Sitemap 09    Sitemap 10   Sitemap 11   Sitemap 12
Sitemap 13   Sitemap 14   Sitemap 15    Sitemap 16   Sitemap 17   Sitemap 18
Sitemap 19   Sitemap 20   Sitemap 21    Sitemap 22   Sitemap 23   Sitemap 24

Site Search













© 2016 Emerson Kent