On February 6, 1814, the deputy mayor of Reims opened the gates of his city to a handful of Cossacks claiming to be part of the Russian army of Winzingerode. Following this bluff, the city will change hands no less than four times during the month of March between the French and the Coalition. Son of a former minister of Louis XVI, it is the defector general Saint-Priest who, by seizing the city by force on March 12, 1814 at the head of a Russo-Prussian body, will decide Napoleon to to engage personally in this battle in order to restore a compromised tactical situation. After heavy fighting at Tinqueux and at the Porte de Vesle, he triumphed in Reims the next day at nightfall. The Emperor settled there for three days, not only to rest his army, but also and above all to govern France, which was in great need of it. Leaving the city to the cheers of the Rémois on the morning of March 17, however, he must set out again towards his tragic destiny which was to be fulfilled a few days later in Fontainebleau.