Napoleon I

Last Thursday we travelled to Paris to be part of a concert by the genuine French ‘vedette’ Patricia Kaas. The concert was called ‘Kaas chante Piaf’ and given in the famous theatre L’Olympia. As the concert started not earlier than 8PM we planned to visit the Hôtel des Invalides for the Musée de l'Armée as well as the Dôme des Invalides – mainly because of Napoleon and the history this remarkable man has made.

This family tree reflects only the eight surviving children and some of their partners and children. In reality Charles-Marie and Maria Letizia had eleven children. The oldest child, and first Napoleon, was born in 1765 but did not survive. The emperor-to-be was the fourth child and born on the 15th of August 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica. His parents were Charles-Marie Bonaparte, born Carlo-Maria Buonaparte, and Maria Letizia Ramolino.

Napoleon’s family was originally from Genua and of the lower nobility. This gave him the chance to get educated as an artillery officer. The painting shows Napoleon at a young age (23).

In general Napoleon was very successful on the battlefield. Everlasting names are for instance Rivoli (Italy), Austerlitz (Czech Repuplic) and Wagram (Austria).

This painting depicts the Battle of Friedland (East Prussia).

After a ‘Coup d'État’ in 1799 Napoleon declared himself French Emperor 5 years later. He placed the crown on his own head on the 2nd of December 1804 in the Notre Dame de Paris, although pope Pius VII was supposed to execute the ceremony.

The glorious Emperor Napoleon I.

The less glorious Emperor in early 1814. Dark clouds are all over him.

Napoleon I at Fontainebleau on the 31st of March 1814. Sitting alone in his study the Emperor seems trapped in thought. He is faced with the prospect of abdication and exile. On the 11th of April he signs the Act of Abdication and is exiled to the isle of Elba. He was given sovereignty over the island and allowed to retain his title of Emperor. He escaped from Elba on 26 February 1815 and marched to Paris, accompanied by the 5th Regiment which was sent out to capture him but, on the contrary, was (again) faithful to him. He arrived in Paris on the 20th of March. King Louis XVIII fled and Napoleon governed for a period now known as ‘the hundred days’. Eventually Napoleon’s army was defeated at Waterloo on the 18th of June 1815 by the allied forces, led by Wellington and helped by the Prussians. Napoleon was exiled to the island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean. He died there on the 5th of May 1821, 51 years of age.

Napoleon’s tombe in the Dôme des Invalides. His remains were brought back from Saint Helena to France in 1840 and rest inside the tomb since 1861.

Especially for our Dutch fellow countrymen, these are paintings of Napoleon’s younger brother Louis Napoleon (1778-1846) and his wife Hortense de Beauharnais (1783-1837). Hortense was a daughter of Napoleon’s first wife, Josephine de Beauharnais (1763-1814). Napoleon made this younger brother king of The Netherlands (1806-1810). His wife did not like The Netherlands – to put it mildly. Their son (1808-1873), hence Napoleon I’s nephew, was the last Emperor of France under the name of Napoleon III.