Blog category: Napoleon Bonaparte

  • Self-Help Lessons from Napoleon Bonaparte

    Self-Help Lessons from Napoleon Bonaparte

    November 3, 2017

    Napoleon has been used as an example in self-help books ever since the genre was invented. Authors of self-help books often misquote Napoleon (see “10 Things Napoleon Never Said”) and tend to be vague or inaccurate on historical details. The self-help lessons drawn from Napoleon say as much about the preoccupations of the author, and the age in which he or she is writing, as they do about the former French Emperor.

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  • 10 Myths about Napoleon Bonaparte

    10 Myths about Napoleon Bonaparte

    September 8, 2017

    When Napoleon Bonaparte called history “a fable agreed upon,” he was talking about his own life and times. There are so many myths about Napoleon that it is sometimes hard to separate fact from fiction. Here are ten popular myths about the French Emperor.

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  • The Battle of Dresden: A Soldier’s Account

    The Battle of Dresden: A Soldier’s Account

    August 25, 2017

    In the Battle of Dresden, fought on August 26-27, 1813, French troops under Napoleon Bonaparte defeated a much larger Austrian, Prussian and Russian force commanded by Austrian Field Marshal Karl Philipp Schwarzenberg. The battle took place on the outskirts of Dresden, then capital of the Kingdom of Saxony, in what is today Germany. Captain Jean-Roch Coignet, a grenadier in Napoleon’s Imperial Guard, takes up the tale.

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  • Napoleon at the Pyramids: Myth versus Fact

    Napoleon at the Pyramids: Myth versus Fact

    July 21, 2017

    Before leading the French army to victory at the Battle of the Pyramids on July 21, 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte rallied his troops by pointing to the distant pyramids and saying, “Soldiers, forty centuries look down upon you.” Napoleon’s encounter with the pyramids during his Egyptian campaign led to at least three myths about him.

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  • Napoleon and the Ice Machine on St. Helena

    Napoleon and the Ice Machine on St. Helena

    July 7, 2017

    After Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, he was exiled to St. Helena, a remote British island in the South Atlantic. Napoleon had a number of admirers in Britain, including Lord and Lady Holland, who regularly sent books and other gifts to him. In the summer of 1816, they sent Napoleon an ice machine.

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  • Fake News about Napoleon Bonaparte

    Fake News about Napoleon Bonaparte

    June 9, 2017

    Was the King of Rome really Napoleon’s son? Was Napoleon killed by Cossacks? Did he escape from St. Helena? Lest you think fake news is a recent problem, here are some samples from the Napoleonic era.

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  • What happened to Napoleon’s body?

    What happened to Napoleon’s body?

    May 5, 2017

    Napoleon Bonaparte died on May 5, 1821 at the age of 51 on the remote South Atlantic island of St. Helena. His tomb is in the Dôme des Invalides, but that is not where Napoleon was first laid to rest. How did his remains end up in Paris? And why are there reports of Napoleon’s penis being in the United States? Here’s what happened to Napoleon’s body after he died.

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  • Was Napoleon good at billiards?

    Was Napoleon good at billiards?

    April 28, 2017

    Napoleon was not known for his sportsmanship (see my post on interesting Napoleon facts). Billiards was one of the most popular games in late 18th-early 19th century France. How was Napoleon at billiards?

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  • 10 More Interesting Napoleon Facts

    10 More Interesting Napoleon Facts

    March 24, 2017

    Further to “10 Interesting Facts about Napoleon Bonaparte,” here are 10 more fun Napoleon facts you may not have come across. 1) Napoleon was a bad dancer. 2) Napoleon didn’t like women to wear black. 3) Napoleon was hard to shave. 4) Napoleon liked to eat with his fingers.

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  • Assassination Attempts Against Napoleon

    Assassination Attempts Against Napoleon

    March 3, 2017

    Napoleon Bonaparte faced between 20 and 30 assassination attempts during his reign over France. Napoleon feared assassination and reportedly took precautions against it. Here’s a look at some of the attempts to assassinate Napoleon.

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  • Alternate History by Napoleon

    Alternate History by Napoleon

    February 3, 2017

    In view of all the alternate history written about Napoleon, of which Napoleon in America is an example, it is worth noting that a prolific speculator about Napoleonic “what-ifs” was Bonaparte himself. Napoleon often posited counterfactuals, particularly when he was in exile on St. Helena. Here are some of Napoleon’s alternate history scenarios.

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  • Watching French Royals Eat: The Grand Couvert

    Watching French Royals Eat: The Grand Couvert

    December 9, 2016

    The desire to peek into royal lives goes back a long way. In France, people could indulge their curiosity at the “grand couvert,” a ritual in which the king and queen ate their dinner in front of members of the public. The tradition is usually associated with Louis XIV, who dined au grand couvert at Versailles almost every evening. Louis XV disliked the ceremony, which was governed by elaborate rules of etiquette. He took more of his meals in private. By the end of their reign, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette dined au grand couvert only on Sundays. When Napoleon became Emperor of the French, he re-introduced the grand couvert.

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  • The Bumpy Coronation of Napoleon

    The Bumpy Coronation of Napoleon

    December 2, 2016

    Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of the French on December 2, 1804 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. A victorious general who had become leader of France through a coup d’état, Napoleon wanted to establish the legitimacy of his regime. He also needed to show – in the wake of plots against his life – that even if he was killed, his dynasty would live on. Making his rule hereditary would reassure those who had acquired land and other benefits from the French Revolution that their gains were secure. Not everything went smoothly.

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  • Napoleon’s Ghost

    Napoleon’s Ghost

    October 28, 2016

    Given the huge influence that Napoleon Bonaparte had during his lifetime, it’s not surprising that his ghost has popped up from time to time since his death. The Museum of The Black Watch has transcribed a letter describing a British soldier’s encounter with Napoleon’s ghost during the removal of Napoleon’s remains from St. Helena to France in 1840. Albert Dieudonné, who played Napoleon in Abel Gance’s 1927 film of that name, talked about spooking a night watchman at the Château de Fontainebleau. The following story about Napoleon’s ghost first appeared in British newspapers in January 1832.

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  • When Napoleon met Goethe

    When Napoleon met Goethe

    October 7, 2016

    In 1808, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte met Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the greatest German literary figure of the modern era. Each man admired the other, although Napoleon’s motives were not solely to greet the author of one of his favourite books. Born in Frankfurt on August 28, 1749, Goethe was 20 years older than Napoleon. His fame as a writer was already well-established by the time Napoleon came to power in France.

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  • Caricatures of Napoleon on St. Helena

    Caricatures of Napoleon on St. Helena

    September 9, 2016

    Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo and subsequent imprisonment on the remote South Atlantic island of St. Helena provided opportunity for the last great blast of Napoleonic caricatures. Most of them appeared in 1815, the year of Napoleon’s second and final abdication from the French throne. Relatively few appeared in the years up to his death in 1821. Further to my post about caricatures of Napoleon on Elba, here’s a look at some caricatures about Napoleon’s exile on St. Helena.

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  • The birth of Napoleon Bonaparte

    The birth of Napoleon Bonaparte

    August 12, 2016

    Napoleon Bonaparte was born on Tuesday, August 15, 1769, in Ajaccio, Corsica. France had acquired Corsica from the Italian city-state of Genoa the year before. Napoleon’s parents were Carlo and Letizia (Ramolino) Buonaparte. Their first surviving child, Giuseppe (Joseph), was 19 months old when Napoleon was born. Two older children, born in 1765 and 1767, had died in infancy. There are several myths about Napoleon’s birth, and one myth-like thing that is actually true.

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  • Napoleon’s castrato: Girolamo Crescentini

    Napoleon’s castrato: Girolamo Crescentini

    June 10, 2016

    In Napoleon in America, Joseph Bonaparte laments the lack of fine arts in the United States. “There are plays in the cities,” he tells Napoleon, “but not one Italian singer.” Joseph knew that his brother was particularly fond of Italian musicians. Napoleon’s favourite composer was Giovanni Paisiello. His favourite singers were the Italian opera virtuosos Girolamo Crescentini and Giuseppina Grassini. In future, I’ll write about Madame Grassini, who became the lover of both Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington. This week, I take a look at her teacher, the castrato Girolamo Crescentini.

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  • How was Napoleon’s death reported?

    How was Napoleon’s death reported?

    May 6, 2016

    Napoleon Bonaparte died at 5:49 p.m. on May 5, 1821 as a prisoner on St. Helena, an isolated British island in the South Atlantic. On May 7, St. Helena’s governor, Sir Hudson Lowe, sent news of Napoleon’s death to London on the Royal Navy sloop Heron. On July 4, Captain William Crokat (who had replaced poor Engelbert Lutyens as orderly officer at Napoleon’s residence of Longwood) delivered Lowe’s message to Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. Here’s what the newspapers had to say about Napoleon’s death – or, rather, about his life.

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  • The Palace of the King of Rome

    The Palace of the King of Rome

    April 22, 2016

    Imagine in Paris, across the river from the Eiffel Tower, a palace as magnificent as the one at Versailles, with a park covering about half of the present 16th arrondissement. This was Napoleon’s dream. In 1811, work began on a great imperial dwelling on the hill that is today known as the Trocadéro, where the Palais de Chaillot (built in 1937) now stands. Intended as a residence for Napoleon’s infant son, the planned complex was known as the palace of the King of Rome.

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  • The Marriage of Napoleon and Marie Louise

    The Marriage of Napoleon and Marie Louise

    April 1, 2016

    Fancy a royal wedding? Napoleon Bonaparte and his second wife Marie Louise – the “good Louise” to whom he writes about their son in Napoleon in America – had three of them. They were married in a religious ceremony on March 11, 1810, though Napoleon was not present for the occasion. They then had a civil wedding on April 1 and another religious wedding on April 2. Here’s a look at the festivities.

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  • Napoleon and the Veronese Easter

    Napoleon and the Veronese Easter

    March 25, 2016

    During Napoleon Bonaparte’s Italian campaign, the inhabitants of Verona revolted against the French forces stationed in the area. The bloody fighting started on April 17, 1797, Easter Monday, thus the rebellion became known as the Pasque Vernesi or Veronese Easter. It ended on April 25, with the capture of the town by 15,000 French soldiers. The Veronese Easter gave Napoleon the excuse he had been looking for “to efface the Venetian name from the face of the globe.”

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  • Caricatures of Napoleon on Elba

    Caricatures of Napoleon on Elba

    March 4, 2016

    While Napoleon Bonaparte provided rich fodder for caricaturists throughout his reign, his exile to Elba in 1814 (see last week’s post) occasioned a burst of gleeful activity among the cartoonists of the time. England had been fighting against France for over 20 years. Audiences there were jubilant about Napoleon’s defeat and receptive to anything that made fun of the fallen French Emperor. Here’s a look at some caricatures related to Napoleon’s sojourn on Elba.

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  • How did Napoleon escape from Elba?

    How did Napoleon escape from Elba?

    February 26, 2016

    In April 1814, with a European coalition occupying Paris, Napoleon Bonaparte was forced to abdicate the French throne. He was sent into exile on Elba, a small Mediterranean island located 260 km (160 miles) south of France and 10 km (6 miles) west of the Italian coastline. Ten months later, in one of those life-is-stranger-than-fiction episodes, Napoleon managed to spirit himself off the island and regain the French crown. How did Napoleon escape from Elba?

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  • Napoleon’s First New Year’s Day on St. Helena

    Napoleon’s First New Year’s Day on St. Helena

    January 1, 2016

    In early 19th century France, New Year’s Day was a more important festival than Christmas. Families gathered, friends visited and gifts were exchanged. It was thanks to Napoleon that January 1st was celebrated in France. The New Year’s celebrations had been abandoned in 1793, when the French Republican calendar was adopted. Each Republican year started on the autumnal equinox in September, without fanfare. Napoleon’s official celebration of New Year’s Day in 1800 assured the French that the Revolution was over.

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  • Bonypart Pie and Questions for Christmas

    Bonypart Pie and Questions for Christmas

    December 24, 2015

    There is no mention of Napoleon Bonaparte doing anything special for his first Christmas in exile on St. Helena. One of his companions, Count de Las Cases, wrote on December 25, 1815: “The Emperor, who had not been well the preceding evening, was still indisposed this morning, and sent word that it would be impossible for him to receive the officers of the 53rd, as he had appointed. He sent for me about the middle of the day, and we again perused some chapters of the Campaign of Italy.” Napoleon nonetheless occasioned some Christmas cheer in England, judging from a seasonal recipe appearing in a London newspaper.

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  • Napoleon and Longwood House

    Napoleon and Longwood House

    December 11, 2015

    On December 10, 1815, former French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte moved to Longwood House on the British island of St. Helena. He was confined there until his death, five and half years later. What did Napoleon think of Longwood?

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  • Was Napoleon superstitious?

    Was Napoleon superstitious?

    November 13, 2015

    Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica, an island known at the time for the “egregious superstition” of its inhabitants. A 19th century guidebook observed that the Corsicans “believe in the mal’occhio, or ‘evil eye,’ and in witchcraft as sturdily as their ancestors of the sixteenth century.” While Napoleon did not believe in witchcraft, he was prone to more everyday superstitions and has been credited with some fantastical beliefs. Here’s a summary of the superstitions attributed to Napoleon.

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  • Napoleon’s arrival at St. Helena

    Napoleon’s arrival at St. Helena

    October 16, 2015

    In October 1815, former French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte arrived at his final place of exile, the island of St. Helena. What were his impressions when he first saw it, and what did the inhabitants of St. Helena think of him?

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  • What was Napoleon’s favourite music?

    What was Napoleon’s favourite music?

    October 9, 2015

    Though French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte had no musical talent, he thoroughly enjoyed music. Napoleon valued music both for the pleasure it gave him, and because it could serve political ends. He wrote: “Among all the fine arts, music is the one which exercises the greatest influence upon the passions, and is the one which the legislator should most encourage. A musical composition created by a master-hand makes an unfailing appeal to the feelings, and exerts a far greater influence than a good work on morals, which convinces our reason without affecting our habits.” What kind of music did Napoleon like best?

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  • James Monroe and Napoleon

    James Monroe and Napoleon

    September 25, 2015

    When Napoleon Bonaparte lands in New Orleans in Napoleon in America, James Monroe is president of the United States. Imagining how he might have reacted to Napoleon’s request for asylum required looking into what he thought about Napoleon. Monroe met Napoleon when he was in France to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. He later became alarmed at Napoleon’s “overweaning ambition.”

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  • Weird pictures of Napoleon

    Weird pictures of Napoleon

    September 4, 2015

    We’ve all seen the classic pictures of Napoleon Bonaparte: riding across the Alps, sitting on his imperial throne, standing with a hand in his waistcoat. Here are some less well-known pictures of Napoleon that are downright weird.

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  • Napoleon’s birthday at sea

    Napoleon’s birthday at sea

    August 14, 2015

    Napoleon Bonaparte celebrated his 46th birthday – August 15, 1815 – as a prisoner on a Royal Navy ship off the northwest coast of Spain. How did he spend the day? After losing the Battle of Waterloo, abdicating from the French throne, and giving himself up to England (see my post about why Napoleon didn’t escape to the United States), Napoleon was taken to Plymouth Sound on the British frigate Bellerophon. On August 7, 1815 he was transferred to HMS Northumberland, a 74-gun ship of the line, and placed under the supervision of Rear Admiral George Cockburn.

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  • What did Napoleon like to eat and drink?

    What did Napoleon like to eat and drink?

    July 31, 2015

    At his birthday party at Joseph Bonaparte’s New Jersey estate in Napoleon in America, Napoleon is served some of his favourite food and wine. What were these, and what else did Napoleon like to eat and drink?

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  • Napoleon & New Orleans in 1821

    Napoleon & New Orleans in 1821

    July 24, 2015

    The New Orleans in which Napoleon lands in Napoleon in America was fertile ground for Bonapartists. In 1821 New Orleans was the nation’s fifth-largest city (after New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston), with a population of approximately 27,000. French speakers accounted for some three-quarters of that total. About 1,500 of these were actual French citizens, fresh from Europe. Another 10,000 or so were refugees from Saint-Domingue who had arrived in 1809 and 1810. The remainder were other Creoles, American-born descendants of the Europeans. But the predominantly French character of New Orleans was changing.

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  • Why didn’t Napoleon escape to the United States?

    Why didn’t Napoleon escape to the United States?

    June 26, 2015

    Why didn’t Napoleon follow through on his plan to start a new life in the United States in 1815? After losing the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, Napoleon returned to Paris with the aim of shoring up his domestic support before continuing the war. When he arrived on June 21, the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Peers called for his abdication. On June 22, Napoleon relinquished the throne in favour of his son, Napoleon II, whom the provisional government soon deposed.

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  • What did Napoleon say about the Battle of Waterloo?

    What did Napoleon say about the Battle of Waterloo?

    June 5, 2015

    On June 18, 1815, Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo by a coalition of British, German, Dutch-Belgian and Prussian forces led by the Duke of Wellington and Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard von Blücher. As a result of this defeat, Napoleon was removed from the throne of France and spent the rest of his life in exile on the remote South Atlantic island of St. Helena. There he had plenty of time to reflect on the last battle he ever fought. What did he say about it?

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  • What were Napoleon’s last words?

    What were Napoleon’s last words?

    May 1, 2015

    In Napoleon in America, Napoleon Bonaparte lands in New Orleans on May 5, 1821. In reality, he died at 5:49 p.m. on that date on St. Helena, an isolated island in the South Atlantic. Given the number of people surrounding the fallen Emperor during his final days, there should be a clear record of Napoleon’s last words. But, as with most things involving Napoleon, there are several accounts of his dying hours and differences regarding what he actually said.

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  • Napoleon and the Easter Insurrection in Corsica

    Napoleon and the Easter Insurrection in Corsica

    April 3, 2015

    With Easter approaching, I’m going to take a break from blogging about the characters in Napoleon in America, and instead look at how Napoleon spent Easter in Corsica in 1792. That Sunday, a quarrel between children erupted into a gunfight that pitted Napoleon and his battalion against the residents of Napoleon’s hometown of Ajaccio. In an act of treason, Napoleon took advantage of the disturbance to attempt to neutralize his adversaries and capture the Ajaccio citadel from the French garrison.

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  • Napoleon and the Marquis de Lafayette

    Napoleon and the Marquis de Lafayette

    March 27, 2015

    Major General Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, was a hero of both the American and French revolutions. Though Lafayette initially hoped that Napoleon would serve the cause of liberty, he was soon disillusioned. His low-key opposition and refusal to accept office under the Consulate and Empire made the Marquis de Lafayette a continuing thorn in Napoleon’s side.

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  • Napoleon’s Children, Part 2

    Napoleon’s Children, Part 2

    March 20, 2015

    In addition to his legitimate son (Napoleon II, who appears in Napoleon in America), Napoleon had at least two stepchildren and two illegitimate children: the wastrel Charles Léon Denuelle and the accomplished Alexandre Colonna Walewski.

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  • Napoleon’s Children, Part 1

    Napoleon’s Children, Part 1

    March 13, 2015

    In addition to his legitimate son (Napoleon II, who appears in Napoleon in America), Napoleon had two stepchildren and at least two illegitimate children. Who were they and what happened to them? In the first of a two-part post about Napoleon’s children, I focus on his stepchildren: Eugène and Hortense de Beauharnais.

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  • What did Napoleon like to read?

    What did Napoleon like to read?

    February 6, 2015

    Napoleon Bonaparte was a voracious reader. He had a personal librarian, he always travelled with books, and he took a great interest in constructing the ultimate portable library to accompany him on his military campaigns. Napoleon’s taste in books was primarily classical. He had some lifelong favourite authors, including Plutarch, Homer and Ossian. What else did he like to read?

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  • Napoleon in French Canada

    Napoleon in French Canada

    January 9, 2015

    I have been blogging about the historical characters in Napoleon in America in order of their appearance in the novel. We now reach the point in the tale where Jean-Baptise Norau, from Saint-Constant, Quebec, arrives at Pierre-François Réal’s home in Cape Vincent wanting to see Napoleon. As I already wrote about Jean-Baptiste when discussing the history behind my short story “A Petition for the Emperor,” I will instead take a broader look at how Napoleon was viewed by French Canadians in the early 19th century. This topic has already been masterfully covered by Serge Joyal in Le Mythe de Napoléon au Canada Français (Del Busso, 2013). If you read French, I highly recommend this book. Even if you don’t understand French, you will enjoy the stunning illustrations.

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  • Napoleon in Historical Fiction

    Napoleon in Historical Fiction

    January 2, 2015

    Some weeks ago I looked at Napoleon in alternate history, of which Napoleon in America is one example. The books on that list are also examples of Napoleon in historical fiction. This week I’ll delve more into that category. While a vast number of novels are set in the Napoleonic era, relatively few have Napoleon as the main character. There are at least four challenges facing anyone who wants to write historical fiction about Napoleon.

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  • Napoleon in Alternate History

    Napoleon in Alternate History

    November 28, 2014

    What if Napoleon won the Battle of Waterloo? What if he defeated Russia in 1812? What if he escaped from exile on St. Helena? Napoleon in America is part of a long tradition of alternate history books about Napoleon Bonaparte. In fact, the first novel-length alternate history was about Napoleon. The Napoleonic era offers many opportunities for divergence from the historical timeline, and authors have let their imaginations roam. Here are some of the results.

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  • 10 Interesting Facts about Napoleon Bonaparte

    10 Interesting Facts about Napoleon Bonaparte

    October 24, 2014

    There’s no shortage of Napoleon Bonaparte facts. Here are 10 you may not be aware of. They struck me as interesting when I was researching Napoleon in America. For example: 1) Napoleon couldn’t carry a tune. 2) He loved licorice. 3) He cheated at cards.

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  • What did Napoleon look like?

    What did Napoleon look like?

    September 19, 2014

    What did Napoleon look like? A silly question, you might think. Napoleon is one of the most painted and sculpted persons in history. When Matt Dawson was designing the cover for Napoleon in America, we agreed he didn’t have to show Napoleon’s face – the hat and coat would be enough. But take away those props and are you sure you’d recognize Napoleon if you met him on the street?

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  • 10 Napoleon Bonaparte Quotes in Context

    10 Napoleon Bonaparte Quotes in Context

    August 15, 2014

    Having looked at 10 things Napoleon never said, here are 10 Napoleon Bonaparte quotes that are often taken out of context. Considering the circumstances in which Napoleon said them may put a different spin on them. Note that all of these quotes have variants, depending on how the French was translated, and on how the phrases have mutated over the past 200 years.

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  • 10 Things Napoleon Never Said

    10 Things Napoleon Never Said

    July 11, 2014

    Napoleon is one of the most quoted people in history, and thus also one of the most misquoted. Here are 10 supposed Napoleon Bonaparte quotes that did not originate with him.

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  • Slavery in New Orleans, and Napoleon’s view thereof

    Slavery in New Orleans, and Napoleon’s view thereof

    June 6, 2014

    Nicolas Girod’s slave Rose is the only character in Napoleon in America for whom I had to invent a name. The 1820 US census lists Girod as having a female slave age 26-44, which means she was born before 1795. I decided to give her a Saint-Domingue origin. This connects her with Napoleon’s view of slavery, which can best be described as pragmatic. While Napoleon condemned the slave trade, he had no strong opposition to slavery. He based his policies on what would most benefit him and France.

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  • Clemens von Metternich: The man who outwitted Napoleon?

    Clemens von Metternich: The man who outwitted Napoleon?

    February 28, 2014

    As Austrian foreign minister from 1809 to 1848, Clemens von Metternich was a major player in European affairs for twice as long as Napoleon Bonaparte. A closet admirer of the French Emperor, he was concerned to show himself as the man who had outwitted him. Metternich was born in Coblenz on May 15, 1773 to an old aristocratic family whose members had held many high offices in the Holy Roman Empire. After studying philosophy, law and diplomacy, he followed his father into a diplomatic career.

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  • Napoleon’s Nemesis: The Duke of Wellington

    Napoleon’s Nemesis: The Duke of Wellington

    January 17, 2014

    Napoleon Bonaparte and Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley never met or corresponded, and they fought only one battle directly against each other, on June 18, 1815. The fact that it was the Battle of Waterloo, which resulted in Napoleon’s permanent removal from the French throne, cemented them together in history. Here’s what they thought of each other.

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  • Louis-Joseph Marchand: Napoleon’s Valet and Friend

    Louis-Joseph Marchand: Napoleon’s Valet and Friend

    January 3, 2014

    When Napoleon disappears from his St. Helena residence of Longwood in Napoleon in America, there is one other person missing: Napoleon’s valet, Louis-Joseph-Narcisse Marchand. Marchand devoted himself to the Emperor’s service from 1811 until Napoleon’s death in 1821. He idolized the Emperor – not an easy man to serve – and did everything he could to maintain Napoleon’s comfort and illusion of power when diminished to the status of an English prisoner. His memoirs provide an inside look at Napoleon.

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  • Louis Étienne Saint-Denis: Napoleon’s French Mameluke

    Louis Étienne Saint-Denis: Napoleon’s French Mameluke

    December 27, 2013

    Louis Étienne Saint-Denis was born on September 22, 1788 at Versailles, where his father served King Louis XVI as an overseer of the royal stables. As “Mameluke Ali,” Saint-Denis accompanied Napoleon during the Russian campaign, went to Elba with him, returned with him to France for the “Hundred Days,” and accompanied him to St. Helena, where he served as second valet and as Napoleon’s librarian.

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  • Charles de Montholon: Napoleon’s murderer or devoted Bonapartist?

    Charles de Montholon: Napoleon’s murderer or devoted Bonapartist?

    December 20, 2013

    In Napoleon in America, when Sir Hudson Lowe confronts the residents of Longwood with questions about Napoleon’s disappearance, among those denying any knowledge of the Emperor’s escape is Count Charles-Jean-François-Tristan de Montholon. Like Lowe, Montholon has a bad reputation. While Lowe’s star has risen over the years, Montholon’s has sunk, mainly due to the theory that Napoleon died of arsenic poisoning and that Montholon was the most likely poisoner.

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  • Napoleon and Arthur Bertrand

    Napoleon and Arthur Bertrand

    December 13, 2013

    Arthur Bertrand was the son of General Henri-Gatien Bertrand and his wife Fanny. Napoleon was fond of all the children in the Longwood entourage on St. Helena, but Arthur became his favourite. Glimpses of the two of them in the various St. Helena memoirs provide an amusing contrast to the often formidable portrait of Napoleon as Emperor.

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  • Hudson Lowe gets a bad rap

    Hudson Lowe gets a bad rap

    December 6, 2013

    British general Sir Hudson Lowe was the governor of St. Helena during Napoleon’s imprisonment on the island. Napoleon reached St. Helena before Lowe did and looked forward to the arrival of a fellow soldier. “Did you not tell me,” he reportedly said to his companions, “that he was at Champ Aubert and at Montmirail? We have then probably exchanged a few cannon balls together, and that is always, in my eyes, a noble relation to stand in.”

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  • General Bonaparte vs. Emperor Napoleon: The sad case of Engelbert Lutyens

    General Bonaparte vs. Emperor Napoleon: The sad case of Engelbert Lutyens

    November 29, 2013

    Captain Engelbert Lutyens, a member of Britain’s 20th Regiment of Foot, was the orderly officer at Napoleon’s residence of Longwood on St. Helena from February 10, 1820 to April 26, 1821. This meant he was the officer in charge of security. Lutyens was required to confirm Napoleon’s presence on a daily basis, preferably by actually seeing him. This was a sensitive task as Napoleon threatened to shoot anyone who invaded his privacy.

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  • Could Napoleon have escaped from St. Helena?

    Could Napoleon have escaped from St. Helena?

    November 22, 2013

    The premise of Napoleon in America is that Napoleon has escaped from St. Helena. That was the island to which he was banished after being forced off the French throne in 1815 following his defeat at Waterloo. A volcanic speck in the South Atlantic Ocean – 1,200 miles (1,900 km) west of Africa and 2,000 miles (3,200 km) east of Brazil – seemed an ideal place to stash a public menace, especially one who had earlier in the year managed to escape from the considerably less remote island of Elba.

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  • Who was Napoleon Bonaparte?

    Who was Napoleon Bonaparte?

    November 15, 2013

    Excluding artists, religious figures, royals with numbers attached, and people from a period or culture in which last names were not commonly used, Napoleon is one of the few historical figures readily identifiable by only his first name. Who was he, and what are the best websites about Napoleon?

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We must confess that fate, which sports with man, makes merry work with the affairs of this world.

Napoleon Bonaparte