Ney, Michel (mēshĕlˈ nā) [key], 1769–1815, marshal of France. Called "the bravest of the brave" by Napoleon I, Ney, a cooper's son from Saarlouis, rapidly rose to glory in the French Revolution. He distinguished himself in the campaigns of 1794 and 1795, commanded the army of the Rhine briefly in 1799, seized Elchingen (1805), and conquered Tyrol. His assistance was decisive in Napoleon's victory at Friedland. Ney's greatest feat was his defense of the rear in the retreat from Moscow in 1812. He was created Duke of Elchingen and prince of Moskowa by Napoleon. Later, Ney was one of the generals who urged Napoleon to abdicate after Leipzig. Ney was raised (1814) to the peerage by Louis XVIII. On Napoleon's return from exile in Elba, Ney promised the king that he would stop Napoleon on his march to Paris, but instead he joined Napoleon and commanded in the Waterloo campaign. He was condemned for treason by the house of peers and shot.
See biography by J. T. Foster (1968).