A View From Napoleon’s House

Emperor Napoleon is one of my favorite historical characters and personalities. I read a book earlier this year that covered Napoleon’s exile on the island of Saint Helena. It was written by a French guy and mercifully translated for us English readers. I remember the book as being pretty good and interesting enough.

I especially liked the personal stories and learning about a man who found himself in exile after reaching nearly the very height of power during his time as French Emperor. While on the tiny island, he found all sorts of ways to stay busy. He would take the generals, those who chose to accompany their emperor into exile, and reorganize armies, design uniforms, and refight battles on large table maps. Additionally, he would work with administrators and go over different tax policies, explore more efficient ways to raise revenue, increase domestic productivity, reform government and the education system.

These things were hardly enough to entertain the kind of mind and physical energy Napoleon had. The island slowly ate away at him.

For a personal note, Napoleon hated that he could not be addressed as Emperor while on the island. After his defeat, and according to the rules of his exile, he was demoted to general. In addition to this, he also found the British protocol off-putting. For example, when the British governor or any diplomat came to the Longwood to speak with him, he always stood. He never took a seat. By him standing it forced his visitor to remain standing according to manners. It saved him the embarrassment and insult of having to watch a member of the British government take a seat without first asking permission. He found it beneath his dignity and rank. So to try and prevent the insult to his honor from happening, he stood while in discussion for however long he needed.

At any rate, I was poking around GoogleEarth and got a 3D animated shot of the Longwood House, which was Napoleon’s official residence until his death.

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Here are some real life shots of Longwood House. Not much for a former emperor.

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2 thoughts on “A View From Napoleon’s House

  1. How funny! When I was in my twenties I had a sort of fascination for him. I read several biographies about him. I think he belonged to that kind of men for whom power is everything: without it, they would be better of dead.

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