Rethinking Napoleon’s Roots
Collection of Monsieur Paul le Roux. This energetic profile presents considerable artistic and iconographic interest. It is the first rough cast of the face of Bonaparte on the pediment of the Pantheon at Paris. Some months ago, Baron Larrey told me an interesting anecdote regarding this statue. The Baron, son of the chief surgeon to Napoleon I. At the emperor's table, Baron H. Bonaparte, in fact, is represented as seizing for himself the crowns distributed by the Fatherland, while the other personages receive them.
On hearing this, Napoleon III. The plaster cast I reproduce here is signed J. DiiriJ, and dates from The Pantheon pediment was inaugurated in Everybody who came to know her at all well, declared her gentle, sympathetic, and helpful. Everybody except, perhaps, the Bonaparte family, who never cared for her, and whom she never tried to win.
Lucien, indeed, draws a picture of her in his " Memoirs " which, if it could be regarded as unprejudiced, would take much of her charm from her : " Josephine was not disagreeable, or perhaps I better say, everybody declared that she was very good; but it was especially when goodness cost her no sacrifice. She had very little wit, and no beauty at all ; but there was a certain Creole suppleness about her form. She had lost all natural freshness of complexion, but that the arts of the toilet remedied by candle-light.
In the brilliant companies of the Directory, to which Barras did me the honor of admitting me, she scarcely attracted my attention, so old did she seem to me. When he first knew her, he was thinking of Desiree Clary ; and he had known Josephine some time when he sought the hand of the widow Permon.
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- The Private Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Constant.
Though he dared not tell her his love, all his circle knew of it, and Barras at last said to him, " You should marry Madame de Beauharnais. You have a position and talents which will secure advancement; but you are isolated, with- out fortune and without relations. You ought to marry; it gives weight," and he asked permission to negotiate the affair. Barras was her protector. She felt the wisdom of his advice, but Napoleon frightened and wearied her by the violence of his love.
In spite of her doubts she yielded at last, and on the gth of March, , they were married. Shortly before, Xapoleon had been ap- pointed commander-in-chief of the Army of Italy, and two days later he left his wife for his post. From every station on his route he wrote her passionate letters : " Every moment takes me farther from you, and every moment I feel le-- able to be away from you. You are ever in my thoughts; my fancy tires itself in trying to imagine what you are doing.
If I picture you sad, my heart is wrung and my grief is increased. If you are happy and merry with your friends, I blame you for so soon forgetting the painful three days separation ; in that case you are frivolous and destitute of deep feeling. As you see, I am hard to please; but. I am sure that you have no longer any kind feeling to- ward me, and I can only be satisfied when I have heard that all goes well with you.
When any one asks me if I have slept well, I feel that I cannot answer until a messenger brings me word that you have rested well. The illnesses and anger of men affect me only so far as I think they may affect you. May my good genius, who has always protected me amid great perils, guard and protect you! I will gladly dispense with him. You remember what Ossian says about that.
Write to me, my pet, and a good long letter, and accept a thousand and one kisses from your best and most loving friend. How can you think, my dear love, of writ- ing to me in such a way? Don't you believe my position is already cruel enough, without adding to my regrets and tormenting my soul?
What a style! What feelings are those you describe! It's like fire; it burns my poor heart. My only Josephine, away from you there is no happiness: away from you. If I am worn out by all the torments of events, and fear the issue, if men disgust me. I look at it, and love is for me perfect happiness ; and everything is smiling, except the time that I see myself absent from my love.
By what art have you learned how to captivate all my faculties, to concentrate my whole being in yourself? To live for Josephine! That's the story of my life. I do everything to get to you; I am dying to join you. Do I not see that I am only going farther from you? How many lands and countries separate us! How long before you will read these words which express but feebly the emotions of the heart over which you reign!
But forgive me, I'm raving. Nature is weak when one loves. Oh, my dear! Of course, I am in the wrong. In the early spring the country is beautiful ; and then the nineteen-year old lover was there, without a doubt. The idea of wast- ing another moment in writing to the man three hundred leagues away, who lives, moves, exists only in memory of you ; who reads your letters as one devours one's favorite dishes after hunting for six hours! Extraordinary difficulties surrounded his new post.
Neither the generals nor the men knew anything of their new commander. Where has he served? No one knows anything about him," wrote Junot's father when the latter at Toulon decided to follow his artillery com- mander. In the Army of Italy they were asking the same questions, and the Directory could only answer as Junot had done : " As far as I can judge, he is one of those men of whom nature is avaricious, and that she permits upon the earth only from age to age.
He was to take an army which was in the last stages of poverty and discouragement. Their garments were in rags. Even the officers were so nearly shoeless that when they reached Milan and one of them was invited to dine at the palace of a marquise, he was obliged to go in shoes without soles and tied on by cords carefully blacked. They had provisions for only a month, and half rations at that.
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The Piedmontese called them the " rag heroes. One company had even taken the name of " Dauphin," and royalist songs were heard in camp. Napoleon saw at a glance all these difficulties, and set himself to conquer them. With his generals he was reserved and severe. It was plain to the least clairvoyant eyes that he knew how to compel obedience, and scarcely was he in authority before the line of a celebrated poet might have been applied to him : " ' Des egaux?
There was noth- ing rude about him, but it was enough. From that time I was never tempted to pass the line which had been drawn for me. The big man backs out in a kind of terror. The army asked nothing but to act. He had reached his post on March 22d; nineteen days later operations began. The theatre of action was along that portion of the mari- time Alps which runs parallel with the sea.
Bonaparte held the coast and the mountains; and north, in the foot-hills, stretched from the Tende to Genoa, were the Austrians and their Sardinian allies. If the French were fully ten thou- sand inferior in number, their position was the stronger, for the enemy was scattered in a hilly country where it was difficult to unite their divisions. As Bonaparte faced his enemy, it was with a youthful zest and anticipation which explains much of what follows. I am much pleased with Beaulieu. He manoeuvres very well, and is superior to his predecessor.
I shall beat him, I hope, out of his boots. He spread rumors which made Beaulieu suspect that he in- tended marching on Genoa, and he threw out his lines in that direction. The Austrian took the feint as a genuine movement, and marched his left to the sea to cut off the French advance.
But Bonaparte was not marching to Genoa, and, rapidly collecting his forces, he fell on the Aus- trian army at Montenotte on April I2th, and defeated it. The right and left of the allies were divided, and the centre broken. At Millesimo, on the 1 4th, he defeated one section; on the same day, at Dego, another; the next morning, near Dego, another.
The Aus- trians were now driven back, but their Sardinian allies were still at Ceva. To them Bonaparte now turned, and, driving them from their camp, defeated them at Mondovi on the 22d. It was phenomenal in Italy. In ten days the " rag heroes," at whom they had been mocking for three years, had defeated two well-fed armies ten thousand stronger than themselves, and might at any moment march on Turin. The Sardinians sued for peace.
The victory was as bewildering to the French as it was terrifying to the enemy, and Napoleon used it to stir his army to new conquests. You have made fifteen hundred prisoners, and killed or wounded ten thousand men. Your exploits now equal those of the conquering armies of Holland and the Rhine. You were utterly destitute, and have supplied all your wants. You have gained battles without cannons, passed rivers without bridges, performed forced marches without shoes, bivouacked without brandy, and often without bread.
None but republican phalanxes soldiers of liberty could have borne what you have endured. For this you have the thanks of your country. Neither Turin nor Milan is ours. The greatest difficulties are no doubt surmounted ; but you have still battles to fight, towns to take, rivers to cross. As adroitly as he had made Beaulieu believe, three weeks before, that he was going to march on Genoa, he now de- ceives him as to the point where he proposes to cross the Po, leading him to believe it is at Valenza.
When certain that Beaulieu had his eye on that point, Bonaparte marched rapidly down the river, and crossed at Placentia. If an unforeseen delay had not occurred in the passage, he would have been on the Austrian rear. As it w r as, Beaulieu took alarm, and withdrew the body of his army, after a slight re- sistance to the French advance, across the Adda, leaving but twelve thousand men at Lodi. Bonaparte was jubilant.
Beaulieu is disconcerted; he miscalculates, and continually falls into the snares I set for him. Perhaps he wishes to give battle, for he has both audacity and energy, but not genius. Another victory, and we shall be masters of Italy. The town, lying on the right bank of the Adda, was guarded by a small force of Austrians; but the mass of the enemy was on the left bank, at the end of a bridge some three hundred and fifty feet in length, and commanded by a score or more of cannon.
Rushing into the town on May loth the French drove out the guarding force, and arrived at the bridge before the Austrians had time to destroy it. The French grenadiers pressed forward in a solid mass, but, when half way over, the cannon at the opposite end poured such a storm of shot at them that the column wavered and fell back. The presence of the officers was enough to inspire the soldiers, and they swept across the bridge with such impetuosity that the Austrian line on the opposite bank allowed its batteries to be taken, and in a few moments was in retreat.
If we have lost but few soldiers, it was merely owing to the promptitude of our attacks and the effect produced on the enemy by the formidable fire from our invincible army. Were I to name all the officers who distinguished themselves in this affair, I should be obliged to enumerate every carabinicr of the advanced guard, and almost every officer belonging to the staff. The populace greeted their conquerors as liberators, and for several days the army rejoiced in comforts which it had not known for years.
While it was being feted, Bonaparte was instituting the Lombard Republic, and trying to conciliate or outwit, as the case demanded, the nobles and clergy outraged at the introduction of French ideas. It was not until the end of May that Lombardy was in a situation to permit Bonaparte to follow the Austrians. After Lodi, Beaulieu had led his army to the Mincio. As usual, his force was divided, the right being near Lake Garda, the left at Mantua, the centre about halfway between, at Valeggio. It was at this latter point that Bonaparte de- cided to attack them.
Feigning to march on their right, he waited until his opponent had fallen into his trap, and then sprang on the weakened centre, broke it to pieces, and drove all but twelve thousand men, escaped to Mantua, into the Tyrol. Two weeks later, having taken a strong position on the Adige, he began the siege of Mantua. The French were victorious, but their position was pre- carious. Austria was preparing a new army. Between the victors and France lay a number of feeble Italian govern- ments whose friendship could not be depended upon.
The populace of these states favored the French, for they brought promises of liberal government, of equality and fraternity. The nobles and clergy hated them for the same reason. It was evident that a victory of the Austrians would set all these petty princes on Bonaparte's heels. The Papal States to the south were plotting. Naples was an ally of Austria.
Venice was neutral, but she could not be trusted. The English were off the coast, and might, at any moment, make an alliance which would place a formidable enemy on the French rear. While waiting for the arrival of the new Austrian army, Bonaparte set himself to lessening these dangers. He con- cluded a peace with Naples. Two divisions of the army were sent south, one to Bologna, the other into Tuscany.
The people received the French with such joy that Rome was glad to purchase peace. Leghorn was taken. The malcontents in Milan were silenced. By the time a fresh Austrian army of sixty thousand men, under a new general, Wurmser, was ready to fight, Italy had been effectually quieted. The Austrians advanced against the French in three col- umns, one to the west of Lake Garda, under Quasdanovich, one on each side of the Adige, east of the lake, under Wurm- ser.
Their plan was to attack the French outposts on each side of the lake simultaneously, and then envelop the army. The first movements were successful. The French on each side of the lake were driven back. Rais- ing the siege of Mantua, he concentrated his forces at the south of the lake in such a way as to prevent the reunion of the Austrians.
Then, with unparalleled swiftness, he fell on the enemy piecemeal. Wherever he could engage a division he did so, providing his own force was superior to that of the Austrians at the moment of the battle. Thus, on July 3 ist, at Lonato, he defeated Quasdanovich, though not so decisively but that the Austrian collected his division and returned towards the same place, hoping to unite there with Wurmser, who had foolishly divided his divisions, sending one to Lonato and another to Castiglione, while he himself went off to Mantua to relieve the garrison there, Bonaparte engaged the forces at Lonato and at Castiglione on the same day August 30!
In six days the campaign has been finished. It had vanished, true, but only for a day. Reenforce- ments were soon sent, and a new campaign started early in September. Leaving Davidovich in the Tyrol with twenty thousand men, Wurmser started down the Brenta with twenty-six thousand men, intending to fall on Bonaparte's rear, cut him to pieces, and relieve Mantua. But Bonaparte had a plan of his own this time, and, without waiting to find out where Wurmser was going, he started up the Adige, intending to attack the Austrians in the Tyrol, and join the army of the Rhine, then on the upper Danube.
The French found less than half the Austrian army opposing them, and, after they had beaten it, discovered that they were actually on the rear of the other half. Of course Bona- parte did not lose the opportunity. He sped down the Brenta behind Wurmser, overtook him at Bassano on the 8th of September, and of course defeated him.
The Austrians fled in terrible demoralization. Wurmser succeeded in reaching Mantua, where he united with the garrison. The sturdy old Austrian had the courage, in spite of his losses, to come out of Mantua and meet Bonaparte on the I5th. If the Austrians had been beaten repeatedly, they had no idea of yielding, and, in fact, there was apparently every reason to continue the struggle. The French army was in a most desperate condition.
Its number was reduced to barely forty thousand, and this number was poorly supplied, and many of them were ill. Though living in the richest of countries, the rapacity and dishonesty of the army con- tractors were such that food reached the men half spoiled and in insufficient quantities, while the clothing supplied was pure shoddy. Many officers were laid up by wounds or fatigue ; those who remained at their posts were discouraged, and threatening to resign. The Directory had tampered with Bonaparte's armistices and treaties until Naples and Rome were ready to spring upon the French; and Venice, if not openly hostile, was irritating the army in many ways.
Bonaparte, in face of these difficulties, was in genuine despair : " Everything is being spoiled in Italy," he wrote the Directory. A policy which will give you friends among the princes as well as among the people, is necessary. Diminish your enemies. The influence of Rome is beyond calculation. It was a great mistake to quarrel with that power. Whenever your general in Italy is not the centre of everything, you will run great risks. This language is not that of ambition ; I have only too many honors, and my health is so impaired that I think I shall be forced to demand a successor.
I can no longer get on horse- back. My courage alone remains, and that is not sufficient in a position like this. The Austrians advanced in two divisions, one down the Adige, the other by the Brenta. The French division which met the enemy at Trent and Bassano were driven back. In spite of his best efforts, Bonaparte was obliged to retire with his main army to Verona. Things looked serious.
Alvinzi was pressing close to Verona, and the army on the Adige was slowly driving back the French division sent to hold it in check. If Davidovich and Alvinzi united, Bonaparte was lost. Alvinzi was close upon Verona, holding a position shut in by rivers and mountains on every side, and from which ihere was but one exit, a narrow pass at his rear.
The French were in Verona. On the night of the I4th of November Bonaparte went quietly into camp. Early in the evening he gave orders to leave Verona, and took the road westward. It looked like a retreat. The French army believed it to be so, and began to say sorrowfully among themselves that Italy was lost.
On the morning of the I5th he crossed the Adige, intending, if pos- sible, to reach the defile by which alone Alvinzi could escape from his position. The points which it was necessary to take to command the defile were the town of Arcola and a bridge over the rapid stream on which the town lay. The Austrians discovered the plan, and hastened out to dispute Arcola and the bridge.
All day long the two armies fought desperately, Bonaparte and his generals putting themselves at the head of their columns and doing the work of common soldiers. But at night Arcola was not taken, and the French retired to the right bank of the Adige, only to return on the i6th to reengage Alvinzi, who, fearful lest his retreat be cut off, had with- drawn his army from near Verona, and had taken a position at Arcola. For two days the French struggled with the Austrians, wrenching the victory from them before the close of the 1 7th, and sending them flying towards Bassano. Bonaparte and his army returned to Verona, but this time it was by the gate which the Austrians, three days before, were pointing out as the place where they should enter.
It was a month and a half before the Austrians could col- lect a fifth army to send against the French. Bonaparte, tormented on every side by threatened uprisings in Italy; opposed by the Directory, who wanted to make peace; and distressed by the condition of his army, worked incessantly to strengthen his relations, quiet his enemies, and restore his army. When the Austrians, some forty-five thousand strong, advanced in January, , against him, he had a force of about thirty-five thousand men ready to meet them.
Some ten thousand of his army were watching Wurmser and twenty thousand Austrians shut up at Mantua. Alvinzi had planned his attack skilfully. Advancing with twenty-eight thousand men by the Adige, he sent seventeen thousand under Provera to approach Verona from the east. The two divisions were to approach secretly, and to strike simultaneously. Sending out feelers in every direc- tion, he became convinced that it must be that it approached Rivoli.
Leaving a force at Verona to hold back Provera, he concentrated his army in a single night on the plateau of Rivoli, and on the morning of January I4th advanced to the attack. The struggle at Rivoli lasted two days. Noth- ing but Bonaparte's masterly tactics won it, for the odds were greatly against him. His victory, however, was com- plete. Of the twenty-eight thousand Austrians brought to the field, less than half escaped.
While his battle was waging, Bonaparte was also directing the fight with Provera, who was intent upon reaching Man- tua and attacking the French besiegers on the rear, while Wurmser left the city and engaged them in front. The at- tack had begun, but Bonaparte had foreseen the move, and sent a division to the relief of his men. This battle, known as La Favorita, destroyed Provera's division of the Austrian army, and so discouraged Wurmser, whose army was ter- ribly reduced by sickness and starvation, that he surrendered on February 2d.
The Austrians were driven utterly from Italy, but Bona- parte had no time to rest. The Papal States and the various aristocratic parties of southern Italy were threatening to rise against the French. The spirit of independence and revolt which the invaders were bringing into the country could not: but weaken clerical and monarchical institutions. An active enemy to the south would have been a serious hindrance to Napoleon, and he marched into the Papal States.
A fort- night was sufficient to silence the threats of his enemies, and on February 19, , he signed with the Pope the treaty of Tolentino. The peace was no sooner made than he started again against the Austrians. The French had been reenforced to some seventy thousand, and though twenty thousand were necessary to keep Italy quiet, Bona- parte had a fine army, and he led it confidently to meet the main body of the enemy, which had been sent south to pro- tect Trieste.
Early in March he crossed the Tagliamento, and in a series of contests, in which he was uniformly suc- cessful, he drove his opponent back, step by step, until Vienna itself was in sight, and in April an armistice was signed. In May the French took possession of Venice, which had refused a French alliance, and which was playing a perfidious part, in Bonaparte's judgment, and a republic on the French model was established. By this treaty France gained the frontier of the Rhine and the Low Countries to the mouth of the Scheldt. Austria was given Venice, and a republic called the Cisalpine was formed from Reggio, Modena, Lombardy, and a part of the States of the Pope.
The military genius that this twenty-seven-year-old com- mander had shown in the campaign in Italy bewildered his enemies and thrilled his friends.
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The French general is a young blockhead who knows noth- ing of the regular rules of war. Sometimes he is on our right, at others on our left ; now in front, and presently in our rear. This mode of warfare is contrary to all system, and utterly insufferable. The most important of these were : " Attacks should not be scattered, but should be concen- trated. The feint by which, at the beginning of the campaign, he had enticed Beaulieu to march on Genoa, and that by which, a few days later, he had induced him to place his army near Valenza, were masterpieces in their way.
His quick-wittedness in emergency frequently saved him from disaster. Thus, on August 4th, in the midst of the excitement of the contest, Bonaparte went to Lonato to see what troops could be drawn from there. On entering he was greatly surprised to receive an Austrian parlementaire, who called on the commandant of Lonato to surrender, be- cause the French were surrounded.
Bonaparte saw at once that the Austrians could be nothing but a division which had been cut off and was seeking escape ; but he was embarrassed, for there were only twelve hundred men at Lonato. Sending for the man, he had his eyes unbandaged, and told him that if his commander had the presumption to capture the gen- eral-in-chief of the army of Italy he might advance; that the Austrian division ought to have known that he was at Lonato with his whole army; and he added that if they did not lay down their arms in eight minutes he would not spare a man.
This audacity saved Bonaparte, and won him four thousand prisoners with guns and cavalry. He insisted in this campaign on one other rule : " Unity of command is necessary to assure success. It is quite as much against the interests of the republic to place two different generals over it. I have conducted this campaign without consulting any one. I should have done nothing of value if I had been obliged to reconcile my plans with those of another. I have gained advantage over superior forces and when stripped of everything myself, because persuaded that your confidence was in me.
My action has been as prompt as my thought. If you enfeeble your means by dividing your forces, if you break the unity of military thought in Italy, I tell you sorrow- fully you will lose the happiest opportunity of imposing laws on Italy. If it is not I, I am sorry for it, but I shall redouble my zeal to merit your esteem in the post you confide to me.
Each one has his own way of carrying on war. General Kellermann has more experience and will do it better than I, but both together will do it very badly. Brilliant generalship was not the only reason for this. It was due largely to his personal courage, which they had discovered at Lodi. A charge had been ordered across a wooden bridge swept by thirty pieces of cannon, and beyond was the Austrian army. The men hesitated, Napoleon sprang to their head and led them into the thickest of the fire.
From that day he was known among them as the " Little Corporal. Such was their devotion to him that they gladly exposed their lives if they saw him in danger. There were several such cases in the battle of Arcola. The first day, when Bonaparte was exposing himself in an ad- vance, his aide-de-camp, Colonel Muiron, saw that he was in imminent danger.
Throwing himself before Bonaparte, the colonel covered him with his body, receiving a wound which was destined for the general. The brave fellow's blood spurted into Bonaparte's face.
The Private Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Constant
He literally gave his life to save his commander's. The same day, in a final effort to take Arcola, Bonaparte seized a flag, rushed on the bridge, and planted it there. His column reached the middle of the bridge, but there it was broken by the enemy's flank- ing fire. The grenadiers at the head, finding themselves deserted by the rear, were compelled to retreat; but, critical as their position was, they refused to abandon their general. They seized him by his arms, by his clothes, and dragged him with them through shot and smoke.
When one fell out wounded, another pressed to his place. Precipitated into the morass, Bonaparte sank. The enemy were surrounding him when the grenadiers perceived his danger. A cry was raised, " Forward, soldiers, to save the General! They were oratorical, prophetic, and abounded in phrases which the soldiers never forgot. Such was his address at Milan : " Soldiers! Piedmont, liberated from Austrian tyranny, has yielded to her natural sentiments of peace and amity towards France. Milan is yours, and the Republican flag floats throughout Lombardy, while the Dukes of Modena and Parma owe their political existence solely to your generosity.
The army which so haughtily menaced you, finds no barrier to secure it from your courage. The Po, the Ticino, and the Adda have been unable to arrest your courage for a single day. Those boasted ramparts of Italy proved insufficient. You have sur- mounted them as rapidly as you cleared the Apennines. So much suc- cess has diffused joy through the bosom of your country.
NAPOLEON. THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH
Yes, soldiers, you have done well; but is there nothing more for you to accomplish? Shall it be said of us that we knew how to conquer, but knew not how to profit by victory? Shall posterity reproach us with having found a Capua in Lombardy? But I see you rush to arms; unmanly repose wearies you.
We have still forced marches to perform, enemies to conquer, laurels to gather, and injuries to avenge. Let those tremble who have whetted the poniards of civil war in France ; who have, like dastards, assassinated our ministers, and burned our ships in Toulon. The hour of vengeance is arrived, but let the people be tranquil. We are the friends of all nations, particularly the descend- ants of the Brutuses, the Scipios, and those illustrious persons we have chosen for our models.
To restore the Capitol, replace with honor the statues of the heroes who rendered it renowned, and rouse the Roman people, become torpid by so many ages of slavery shall, will, be the fruit of your victories. You will then return to your homes, and your fellow-citizens when pointing to you will say, ' He was of the army of Italy. Engraved by Bartolozzi, R. You have enriched the Museum of Paris with three hundred chefs-d'oeuvre of ancient and modern Italy, which it has taken thirty ages to produce.
You have conquered the most beautiful country of Europe. The French colors float for the first time upon the borders of the Adriatic. You have chased the English from Leghorn, Genoa, and Corsica. You have yet to march against the Emperor of Austria. Let him speak a word of praise to a regiment, and they embroidered it on their banners.
Over the Fifty- seventh floated a name Napoleon had called them by, " The terrible Fifty-seventh. He said to a corps which had retreated in disorder : " Soldiers, you have displeased me. You have shown neither courage nor constancy, but have yielded positions where a handful of men might have defied an army. You are no longer French soldiers. Let it be written on their colors, '' They no longer form part of the Army of Italy.
The effect of his genius was as great on his generals as on his troops.
They were dazzled by his stratagems and man- oeuvres, inspired by his imagination. They could believe anything of him. A remarkable set of men they were to have as followers and friends Augereau, Massena, Berthier, Marmont, Junot. The people and the government in Paris had begun to believe in him, as did the Army of Italy. He not only sent flags and reports of victory; he sent money and works of art. Never before had France received such letters from a general.
Now he announces that he has sent " twenty first masters, from Correggio to Michael Angelo;" now, "a dozen millions of money;" now, two or three millions in jewels and diamonds to be sold in Paris. First came trunks filled with books, manuscripts,. Then fol- lowed collections of mineral products. For the occasion were added wagons laden with iron cages containing lions, tigers, panthers, over which waved enormous palm branches and all kinds of exotic shrubs. Afterwards rolled along chariots bearing pictures carefully packed, but with the names of the most important inscribed in large letters on the outside, as.
The number was great, the value greater. When these trophies had passed, amid the applause of an excited crowd, a heavy rumbling announced the approach of massive carts bearing statues and marble groups : the Apollo Belvidere ; the Nine Muses ; the Laocoon. The Venus de Medici was eventually added, decked with bou- quets, crowns of flowers, flags taken from the enemy, and French, Italian, and Greek inscriptions.
Detachments of cavalry and infantry, colors flying, drums beating, music playing, marched at intervals; the members of the newly established Institute fell into line ; artists and savants ; and the singers of the theatres made the air ring with na- tional hymns. This procession marched through all Paris, and at the Champ de Mars defiled before the five members of the Directory, sur- rounded by their subordinate officers.
When entering a country one of the first things he did was to collect information about its chief art objects, in order to demand them in case of victory, for it was by treaty that they were usually obtained. Among the works of art which Napoleon sent to Paris were twenty-five Raphaels, twenty-three Titians, fifty-three Rubenses, thirty-three Van Dykes, thirty-one Rembrandts. In Italy rose Napoleon's " star," that mysterious guide which he followed from Lodi to Waterloo. It was only after Lodi that it came into my head that I could become a decisive actor on our political field.
Then was born the first spark of high ambi- tion. Mar- mont tells that one day while in Italy the glass over the por- trait of his wife, which he always wore, was broken. In a campaign of such achievements as that in Italy there seems to be no time for love, and yet love was never more imperative, more absorbing, in Napoleon's life than during this period. Published June i, , by H. Richter, No. Ceracchi left Rome in to escape punishment for taking part in an in- surrection in the city, and went to Paris, where he hoped to receive aid from the First Consul. After the French troops entered Rome in , plans were quickly set in motion to detach the coveted fresco, as the German writer Fernow reported from Rome on October 1, and the extraction was begun in January Jerome, both of which had already been confiscated.
Jerome , , Pinacoteca, Vatican. Once rendered portable, the paintings could be shipped to Paris. Certainly in retrospect, the detachment of famous frescoes becomes just part of the larger process of obtaining treasures, when set alongside other excessively arrogant requests. By the time the French entered and then occupied Rome, a great number of cultural objects already had been taken as war booty.
Nevertheless, as letters and journals by contemporaries reveal, their acquisitiveness was not yet nearly satisfied. Two principal obstacles shattered this irrational desire: the unbelievable costs and the bureaucratic roadblocks that the Roman consuls put in place to hold up the process. Certainly, we should not downplay that many of the altarpieces shipped to Paris underwent enormous changes in function and viewing when they were taken out of chapel settings and placed, instead, in art galleries.
Those subjected to the transfer procedure were altered structurally in a way that changed their surface appearance forever. However, the transformations resulting from detachment, arguably, were greater still. Paintings executed directly on wall surfaces, from which they never were intended to be severed, were removed from the original cycle in a way that violated the integrity of the entire composition.
They were mounted onto moveable supports and exhibited in completely different situations. Often only parts of the composition could be detached, which resulted in the creation of a set of fragments. As a result of detailed deliberations on site, Camuccini asked Palmaroli to carrying out a stacco detachment, specifying in his report that the fresco was being detached only in order to save it from the water leakage and the structural instability of the chapel.
Of course, once detached, another threat arose: the painting potentially would be available for confiscation by the French. Palmaroli also described his repainting using an encaustic medium and mastic Although Palmaroli was admired in his day for the skilful manner in which he had detached the Deposition under precarious circumstances, Inspector Camuccini was not satisfied with the retouching.
Seven years later, Camuccini was still disturbed by the surface, and asked that he be allowed, once again, to rework the fresco. However, this time his request was refused by the French However, in the forefront on the political stage, the Director of the Louvre, Domenique-Vivant Denon, all the while was pushing to obtain the detached mural for Paris. Denon took frequent trips to Italy in search of paintings that would enhance the comprehensiveness of the collection at the Louvre.
Denon is recorded as trying to have several large and extremely heavy detached frescoes shipped to Paris, and attempting to get permission to detach others Indeed, surviving correspondence reveals how Denon struggled for years to obtain the Deposition Finally, Denon wrote with resignation, on 2 April , to acknowledge his understanding that the fresco would not be sent to Paris. Nevertheless, as late as the French Ambassador in Rome, Chateaubriand, was still trying to obtain the fresco.
Fortunately, by this time Palmaroli was not alone in the attempt to save frescoes. As early as June , the Commission on Monuments began to work actively to restrict detachments in reaction against the French. In the same years when Palmaroli was working to salvage the Deposition in the French church, he seems to have been called upon to detach the Raising of Lazarus , which was remounted onto a canvas backing.
Another specialist in detachment, Mme. Bonaparte must have acquired the fresco when he was in Italy in the years , residing at his villa in Tusculum, just outside Rome. Most likely the fresco was procured with the help of Vincenzo Pacetti, the important restorer of ancient sculpture, who assisted Bonaparte to obtain many ancient and modern works of art for his villa It is also possible that Palmaroli was directly involved since he worked on occasion for Lucien Bonaparte.
Since the auction catalogue entries clearly indicate that the original location of the fresco and its importance had not been forgotten, presumably the value dropped because the condition had deteriorated significantly. The final private owner, J. Austen, donated the fresco to the South Kensington Museum in However, it was not until that the curator, John Gere, recognized the painting as the only remaining fresco from the Massimi Chapel, after it had been discovered in a storeroom of the Victoria and Albert Museum The fresco itself was severely damaged, either during the detachment, or as a result of the procedure of remounting the wall-painting onto a canvas backing, which at some date was stretched over a panel support.
During the chequered history of the fresco, the addition of heavy varnish films also contributed to the flaking. The loss of paint can be seen most obviously in the heads of some of the figures behind Lazarus. Whereas those in charge would have argued that the frescoes were rapidly deteriorating in humid environments and had already been neglected for centuries by their Italian owners, others certainly would have interpreted the detachments as exploitative.
Now they were to be admired within a secular context, designed to preserve cultural artefacts and to exhibit the variety and development within the history of European art. Winckelmann and an avid antiquarian. Like Winckelmann, he believed in the ethos of the Grand Tour, and strongly felt that Italian art must be studied in Italy in order to be fully appreciated. Henry and F. Rendiconti , 33, , p. XII, , p. Benati, M. Natale and A. Paolucci, Milan, Silvana Editoriale, , p. Colomb, 2 vols. Farnborough, U. For biographical information on Palmaroli: Bergeon, S. While the battle on land was a resounding victory for the French, the British navy managed to compensate at sea.
The ships that had dropped off Bonaparte and his army had sailed back to France, but a fleet of battleships that had come with them stayed and supported the army along the coast. On August 1, The British fleet found these battleships anchored in a strong defensive position in the bay of Abukir.
The French believed that they were open to attack only on one side, the other side being protected by the shore. However, the arriving British fleet under Horatio Nelson managed to slip half of their ships in between the land and the French line, thus attacking from both sides. All but two of the French vessels were captured or destroyed. The Guillaume Tell was caught not much later in the course of the British conquest of Malta.
Many blame the French loss in this Battle of the Nile on the French admiral Francois-Paul Brueys, who came up with the failed defensive strategy. However, the French ships were also undermanned, the officers were demoralized, and Nelson's attack was a surprise. In all, about British and 1, French were killed. Bonaparte became land-bound. His goal of strengthening the French position in the Mediterranean Sea was thus frustrated, but his army nonetheless succeeded in consolidating power in Egypt, although it faced repeated nationalist uprisings.
In early he led the army into the Ottoman province of Syria , now modern Israel , and defeated numerically superior Ottoman forces in several battles, but his army was weakened by disease and poor supplies. He was unable to reduce the fortress of Acre, and was forced to return to Egypt in May. In order to speed up the retreat, Bonaparte took the controversial step of killing prisoners and plague-stricken men along the way. His supporters have argued that this decision was necessary given the continuing harassment of stragglers by Ottoman forces.
This partially redressed his reputation from the naval defeat there a year earlier. It has been suggested that Sir Sidney Smith and other British commanders in the Mediterranean helped Bonaparte evade the British blockade, thinking that he might act as a Royalist element back in France, but there's no solid evidence in support of this argument. The remaining troops, angry at Bonaparte and the French government for having left them behind, were supposed to be honorably evacuated under the terms of a treaty Kleber had negotiated with Smith in early However, British Admiral Keith reneged on this treaty and sent an amphibious assault force of 30, Mamelukes against Kleber.
The Mamelukes were defeated at the battle of Heliopolis in March , and Kleber then suppressed an insurrection in Cairo. But Kleber was assassinated in June by a Syrian student, and command of the French army went to general Menou. Menou held command until August , when, under continual harassment by British and Ottoman forces, and after the loss of 13, men mostly to disease , he eventually capitulated to the British. Under the terms of his surrender, the French army was repatriated in British ships, along with a priceless hoard of Egyptian antiquities.
While in Egypt, Bonaparte tried to keep a close eye on European affairs, relying largely on newspapers and dispatches that arrived only irregularly. On August 23, , he abruptly set sail for France, taking advantage of the temporary departure of British ships blockading French coastal ports. Although he was later accused by political opponents of abandoning his troops, his departure actually had been ordered by the Directory, which had suffered a series of military defeats to the forces of the Second Coalition, and feared an invasion. By the time he returned to Paris in October, the military situation had improved due to several French victories.
The Republic was bankrupt, however, and the corrupt and inefficient Directory was more unpopular with the French public than ever. This made him the most powerful person in France, a power that was increased by the Constitution of the Year X, which made him first consul for life. His set of civil laws, the Napoleonic Code or Civil Code, has importance to this day in many countries. Other codes were commissioned by Bonaparte to codify criminal and commerce law. In a Code of Criminal Instruction was published, which enacted precise rules of judicial procedure.
Although contemporary standards may consider these procedures as favoring the prosecution, when enacted they sought to preserve personal freedoms and to remedy the prosecutorial abuses commonplace in European courts. Napoleon negotiated the Concordat of with the papacy, seeking to reconcile the mostly Catholic population with his regime. The French Revolution had established a secular regime, replaced the Gregorian calendar, and embarked on a policy of de-Christianization.
Fifty anti-government bishops were in exile in England, and what was left of the church in France was alienated or hostile—yet most common citizens were believers. Napoleon believed that religion was necessary for social order and sought to strike a deal to the papacy that would bring the bishops in line. He saw restoration of the church as politically expedient, he said he was a Muslim when he ruled Egypt, and proclaimed himself a Catholic in France.
Religious leaders routinely ignored his requests, and Cardinal Conslavi negotiated a more favorable Concordat for Italy in In Bonaparte returned to Italy, which the Austrians had reconquered during his absence in Egypt. He and his troops crossed the Alps in spring although he actually rode a mule, not the white charger on which Jacques-Louis David famously depicted him.
While the campaign began badly, the Austrians were eventually routed in June at Marengo, leading to an armistice. As negotiations became more and more fractious, Bonaparte gave orders to his general, Jean Victor Marie Moreau, to strike Austria once more. Moreau led France to victory at Hohenlinden. The peace between France and Britain was uneasy and short-lived. The monarchies of Europe were reluctant to recognize a republic, fearing that the ideas of the revolution might be exported to them.
Britain failed to evacuate Malta and Egypt as promised, and protested against France's annexation of Piedmont, and Napoleon's Act of Mediation in Switzerland although neither of these areas was covered by the Treaty of Amiens. In Bonaparte faced a major setback when an army he sent to reconquer Haiti and establish a base was destroyed by a combination of yellow fever and fierce resistance led by Toussaint L'Ouverture. The dispute over Malta provided the pretext for Britain to declare war on France in to support French royalists.
In January , Bonaparte's police uncovered an assassination plot against him, ostensibly sponsored by the House of Bourbon. After a hurried secret trial, the Duke was executed on March Bonaparte then used this incident to justify the re-creation of a hereditary monarchy in France, with himself as emperor, on the theory that a House of Bourbon restoration would be impossible once the Bonapartist succession was entrenched in the constitution.
Bonaparte crowned himself emperor on December 2, , at Notre Dame de Paris. Claims that he seized the crown out of the hands of Pope Pius VII during the ceremony in order to avoid subjecting himself to the authority of the pontiff are apocryphal; in fact, the coronation procedure had been agreed upon in advance.
The Pope had expected Italy in return, and was frustrated when Napoleon insisted on being crowned king of Italy with the Iron Crown of Lombardy at Milan's cathedral on May 26, By Britain was unwillingly drawn to a Third Coalition against Napoleon, after he made it clear that he wouldn't stop his expansive wars in the continent. Napoleon knew the French fleet could not defeat the Royal Navy, and therefore arranged to lure the British fleet away from the English Channel so that, in theory, a Spanish and French fleet could regain control of the Channel for 24 hours, which he erroneously thought enough for French armies to cross to England.
Napoleon was wholly ignorant of nautical matters; his orders to admirals were often contradictory or useless, and the fleet of rafts he prepared was destined to sink in the Channel, or take at least three days to take his army to the English coast, even if any other ships did not harass it.
Napoleon's fleet was also defenseless. However, with Austria and Russia preparing an invasion of France and its allies, he had to change his plans and turn his attention to the continent. The newly born Grande Armee secretly marched towards Germany. On October 20, it surprised the Austrians at Ulm. The next day, however, at the decisive Battle of Trafalgar October 21, , Britain gained lasting control of the seas. A few weeks later, Napoleon secured a major victory against Austria and Russia at Austerlitz, a decisive victory he would be most proud of in his military career December 2; the one-year anniversary of his coronation , forcing Austria yet again to sue for peace.
He marched on against advancing Russian armies through Poland , and was attacked at the bloody Battle of Eylau on February 6, He placed puppet rulers on the thrones of German states, including his brother Jerome as king of the new state of Kingdom of Westphalia. Ludwig van Beethoven initially dedicated his third symphony, the Symphony No. In addition to military endeavors against Britain, Napoleon also waged economic war, attempting to enforce a Europe-wide commercial boycott of Britain called the "Continental System.
Portugal did not comply with this Continental System and in Napoleon sought Spain 's support for an invasion of Portugal. When Spain refused, Napoleon invaded Spain as well. After mixed results were produced by his generals, Napoleon himself took command and defeated the Spanish army, retook Madrid and then defeated a British army sent to support the Spanish, driving it to the coast and forcing withdrawal from the Iberian peninsula in which its commander, Sir John Moore, was killed. Napoleon installed one of his marshals and brother-in-law, Joachim Murat, as the king of Naples, and his brother Joseph Bonaparte, as king of Spain.
The Spanish, inspired by nationalism and the Roman Catholic Church, and angry over atrocities committed by French troops, rose in revolt. At the same time, Austria unexpectedly broke its alliance with France and Napoleon was forced to assume command of forces on the Danube and German fronts. A bloody draw ensued at Aspern-Essling May 21—22, near Vienna , which was the closest Napoleon ever came to a defeat in a battle with more or less equal numbers on each side. After a two-month interval, the principal French and Austrian armies engaged again near Vienna resulting in a French victory at Battle of Wagram July 6.
Following this, a new peace was signed between Austria and France—and in the following year the Austrian Archduchess Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma married Napoleon, following his divorce of Josephine. Although the Congress of Erfurt had sought to preserve the Russo-French alliance, by tensions were again increasing between the two nations.
Although Alexander and Napoleon had a friendly personal relationship since their first meeting in , Alexander had been under strong pressure from the Russian aristocracy to break off the alliance with France. Had Russia withdrawn without France doing anything the other countries would have followed suit and revolted against Napoleon. Thus it was necessary to show that France would respond. The first sign that the alliance was deteriorating was the easing of the application of the Continental System in Russia, angering Napoleon. By advisors to Alexander suggested the possibility of an invasion of the French Empire and the recapture of Poland.
Large numbers of troops were deployed to the Polish borders reaching over , out of the total Russian army strength of , Napoleon ignored repeated advice against an invasion of the vast Russian heartland, and prepared his forces for an offensive campaign. Napoleon, in an attempt to gain increased support from Polish nationalists and patriots, termed the war the "Second Polish War" the first Polish war being the liberation of Poland from Russia, Prussia and Austria.