“Je gagne mes batailles avec les rêves de mes soldats”
(I win my battles with the dreams of my soldiers)
Napoleone di Buonaparte was born in Ajaccio, Corsica on August 15th, 1769, a mere ten years after the island passed from being a Genovese possession to a department in the French nation; he passed away in the British island of Saint Helen on May 5th 1821. Last May 5th marked the 200th Anniversary of his death, which has been discreetly celebrated by the French Republic. Hs military campaigns all over Europe caused thousands of human casualties and economic devastation, which makes him a very controversial figure in these times of political correctness and historic revision.
Note – This image was taken from Wikimedia Images. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jacques-Louis_David_-_The_Coronation_of_Napoleon_(1805-1807).jpg
Above we included the reproduction of the great tableau of Jean Louis David showing the coronation of Napoléon and his wife Joséphine in the Cathédral of Notre Dame in Paris on December 2, 1804. He famously took his wife’s crown out of the hands of the Catholic bishop and placed it himself. That was the ultimate gesture of the Ritali (despective term used in France for the citizens of Italian origin) that had dared to storm his way into the core of the highly centralized French state.
Aside from his outstanding military victories, Napoléon and his group of advisers prodded great transformations in several regions of the planet, which brutally modernized many societies. In France it established firmly the equality of rights of all the citizens in the Napoleonic Code; it laid the foundations of its administratively efficient division into departments, away from feudalism. In Italy it broke the grip of the Catholic Church and the regional warlords in the communal affairs; for the first time Italians had the concept of a Unified Nation when he established a Kingdom in the North (headed by him) and a Kingdom in the South (headed by his brother) In Germany it spawned the military coalition of the previously ferociously independent länders and city-states (with the exception of Baviera) into a large army that, together with the British, would finally defeat with him. However, after he had departed, the European societies changed their economic and social tenet.
The invasion and takeover of the Bourbon Kingdom of Spain with the establishment of a puppet regime headed by his brother José, sparked the revolutionary movements in South America, Initially the criollos (natives) and Spanish citizens living in Argentina and Uruguay mobilized and hastily formed provisional governments that considered the deposed Fernando VII as their legitimate ruler. However, after “tasting” the fruits of local rule, when the Bourbon king was re-instated in Madrid, those provisional governments refused to dissolve and disappear, sparking fierce wars of liberation.
With dear our father Mario, we enjoyed reading and discussing Napoléon’s military campaigns, including his last stand at Waterloo; displaying a battle map of a book we had gifted him, our father neatly showed us how the unknown obstacle of a little ditch foiled the rescue charge of La Garde Impériale. If that elite regiment would have reached his commanding position, he would have won the battle.
Do not be surprised that people of French heritage like us still admire the Great Corsican so much. In a recent survey that asked French commoners what was the historical figure they would like to personally meet and talk to, they responded like this:
First place: Napoléon Bonaparte
Second place: Charles de Gaulle
Third place: Louis XIV
As you already know by reading our article, we had the fortune of meeting Général de Gaulle as a child. Perhaps, in one of the still unexplored corners of our wide world, we might meet Napoléon?
Pour quoi pas?
Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.