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Napoleon


  • Originally published 08/16/2013

    The Egyptian Revolution Goes Napoleon

    The same disillusionment set in as the French Revolution progressed. In fact, in a superb article in the Chronicle of Higher Education published in 2006, Howard Brown of the University of Binghamton described how events of the Revolution presaged events of 2006. It seems to me that Brown's article actually does even better to foreshadow what has happened in Egypt the last month and especially this week. His article concentrates on the trajectory from constitutionalism to repression under Napoleon. The biggest difference is the incredible speed of the current transformation compared to two centuries ago. It took a month in Egypt for what transpired in France over a decade.  This, of course, relates to the same acceleration in the revolutionary process that Alyssa Sepinwall described elsewhere in this blog.

  • Originally published 08/03/2013

    Rescuing the farm where Wellington won the battle of Waterloo

    In an isolated corner of bucolic Belgium, down a dusty track that cuts through great fields of lettuce and shivering wheat, stands the farm that won Waterloo. Of the 170,000 people who visit the battlefield each year, few find their way to this particular spot. Fat wood pigeons coo undisturbed from the crumbling walls. The view across the miles of rolling fields over which Napoleon launched waves of attacks, is unspoilt by any building. The only sound of modern life is the faint roar of a motorway, hidden by a bank of trees.Hougoumont is largely unchanged from where, on Sunday June 18, 1815, it was the centre of action throughout the Battle of Waterloo. Of the tens of thousands who died that day, 6,500 men were killed, or suffered terrible injuries, at Hougoumont. Many were dumped in a mass grave there to deter thieves....

  • Originally published 06/17/2013

    Napoleon's telegraph changed the world

    Napoleonic semaphore was the world's first telegraph network, carrying messages across 18th Century France faster than ever before. Now a group of enthusiastic amateurs are reviving the ingenious system.Before the web, before the computer, before the phone, even before Morse code, there was le systeme Chappe. Not for the first time or for the last, at the end of the 18th Century France made an important technological advance - only to see it overtaken by newer science.In this case, it was the world's first ever system of telegraphy.According to most accounts, the very word "telegraph" - distance writing, in Greek - was coined to describe Claude Chappe's nationwide network of semaphore....

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Napoleon and Josephine's engagement ring sells for $949,000

    The engagement ring the young Napoleon "must have broken his wallet" to buy for his fiancee Josephine shattered expectations today at the Osenat auction house in France when it sold for close to $1 million, Osenat's expert Jean-Christophe Chataignier said.The winning bidder, who wanted to stay completely anonymous, paid $949,000, almost 50 times the $20,000 Osenat had expected to bring in. Including the buyer's 25 percent commission to Osenat, the total price for the ring was $1.17 million."In my wildest dreams, I did not think we would outsell the estimate by more than 47 times," said Osenat's Emily Villane, who led today's auction. "We based the estimates in our catalog on the actual market value of the ring, minus Napoleon and Josephine provenance. It is not our job to tell bidders how much they should pay for the historical premium."...

  • Originally published 03/11/2013

    Submarine plot to rescue Napoleon

    Tom Johnson was one of those extraordinary characters that history throws up in times of crisis. Born in 1772 to Irish parents, he made the most of the opportunities that presented themselves and was earning his own living as a smuggler by the age of 12. At least twice, he made incredible escapes from prison. When the Napoleonic Wars broke out, his well-deserved reputation for extreme daring saw him hired–despite his by then extensive criminal record–to pilot a pair of covert British naval expeditions.

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