Sunday, 4 May 2014

Napoleon Arrives on Elba

We have met Napoleon and members of his illustrious family here at the Guide on a few occasions. The last time we encountered the famed Corsican we witnessed the brokering of a dynastic marriage but today the event is a far less palatable one for the gentleman concerned.


The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries by Jacques-Louis David, 1812
The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries by Jacques-Louis David, 1812

In 1814, Napoleon's empire lay in tatters. the War of the Sixth Coalition had ended in his defeat and now, under the terms of the Treaty of Fontainbleu, the former Emperor's rule of France was over and he was bound for exile. Napoleon left France on 20th April 1814 for his new home of Elba. Here he would be Emperor to just 12,000 inhabitants of the small island in the Mediterranean, its shoreline under regular patrol from the British.


The journey of a modern hero, to the island of Elba, 1814
The journey of a modern hero, to the island of Elba, 1814

He arrived on Elba on 4th May and, perhaps surprisingly, declared himself at peace with these new surroundings. Here he would live under the watchful eye of guards in relative peace, apparently quite content in his new, drastically reduced role. He instituted government reforms that improved life for the islanders and to all intents and purposes, appeared to have found something approaching satisfaction, even if it was a far cry from the successes he had known.


Napoleon Leaving Elba by Joseph Beaume, 1836
Napoleon Leaving Elba by Joseph Beaume, 1836

In reality, his true ambitions were to be far, far away from Elba and to this end, Napoleon had no intention of remaining in exile. Just three hundred days after he set foot on Elba, Napoleon stole away from the island headed, once more, to France.

8 comments:

  1. Do you know I wake up each day and look forward to this blog. It is as much a part of my morning routine as my cup of tea.

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    1. That's lovely to hear, thank you so much!

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  2. I think this is a great post, I like a lot the history around Napoleon Bonaparte!! Thank you Madame Gilflurt... <3

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    1. It strikes me that we haven't had nearly enough Napoleon!

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  3. I can't imagine a man with such an appetite for Europe being content with Elba. It is like being given one potato chip (crisp)!

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    1. And he would definitely want the whole bag!

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  4. Catherine, I watched a programme on the TV recently that featured the background to Napoleon's escape from Elba. It seemed incredible how easy it was for him to escape unnoticed.

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    1. I wish I'd seen that; it does seem that he just sailed away from Elba without anybody spotting his departure!

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