Napoleonic Exhibition touring in America
Drawn from the extraordinary collection of Pierre-Jean Chalençon, the
exhibition "Napoléon" is rich in objects denoting Napoleon's imperial
ambitions and stature: the gilded bronze sword used, in 1804, to proclaim
him emperor; a red velvet coronation foot cushion embroidered with bees, his
favorite emblem; a portrait by Baron François Gérard showing Napoleon
wearing a laurel crown and a heavy gold collar emblazoned with eagles.
These items -- and dozens of other artifacts of great rarity and
interest -- are on view through Sept. 7 at the National Constitution Center,
525 Arch St., Philadelphia, the sixth stop on a national tour that will end
in Anaheim, Calif., and St. Louis, Mo.
Artist Eugene Leliepvre
celebrates his 100th Birthday
Parade on the Champ de Mars by Eugene
The Napoleonic Historical Society would like to congratulate Eugene
Leliepvre on the occasion of his 100th birthday, which he celebrated in
2008. He is working a bit more slowly these days, but he is
still actively painting and drawing. You can visit the website
celebrating his centenary, or even send him your personal best wishes by e-mail.
Don't hesitate to do so -- he reads English, and it would mean a lot for
him to hear from his admirers all over the world!
Napoleon's St. Helena Wine
Has Renaissance in Cape Town Vineyards
The sweet wine of Constantia helped Napoleon ease the misery of exile and was recommended by Jane Austen
for a broken heart. Now, two CapeTown estates have revived the beverage that made South Africa the toast of
Klein Constantia was first to bring back Vin de Constance, using vines from the three-century-old plantings on the
slopes behind Cape Town'ssignature Table Mountain. Neighbor Groot Constantia followed in recent years,
producing its own version of the honeyed wine.
Vin de Constance is a late-harvested wine made from white Muscat de Frontignac grapes, golden in color,
with a bouquet of stone fruits and a smooth finish. "It's a delightful and unusual wine for relatively
early drinking that serves as a reminder of historic fashion," said London-based wine critic Jancis
The South African wine also compares price-wise to its French and German rivals, costing about 300 rand
($43) at the cellar door for a 500 milliliter hand-blown, French glass bottle.
The original Constantia farm was granted in 1685 to Van der Stel, the first governor of the Dutch colony in the
Cape. Constantia's wines reached the peak of their fame in the 18th and 19th centuries before the phylloxera beetle
devastated the plantings in the 1880s.
Napoleon Bonaparte had as much as 1,126 liters (297 gallons) of Constantia wine shipped in wooden casks each year
to Longwood House, his home in exile on St. Helena from 1815 until his death in 1821, according to Groot Constantia.
The Count de las Cases reported that, on his deathbed, Napoleon refused everything offered to him but a glass of
A rare bottle of 1821 Grand Constance sold for 2,990 pounds ($5,918) at a Sotheby's auction a year ago in London.
The wine was also a favorite among the European and Russian royal households of the time, Sotheby's said.
Jane Austen wrote in "Sense and Sensibility" of its "healing powers on a disappointed heart."
-- from an article by Clyde Russell for the Bloomberg News
Sale of Napoleon's Sword at Auction
FONTAINEBLEAU, France — A gold-encrusted sword Napoleon wore into battle in Italy was sold on June 19th, 2007
for more than $6.4 million at an auction south of Paris, the auction house said.
The sword was owned by eight direct descendants of Napoleon, including Prince Victor Napoleon.
Applause rang out in a packed auction hall across the street from one of Napoleon's imperial castles in
Fontainebleau,a town southeast of Paris where the sword was sold.
The last of Napoleon's swords in private hands, it had been expected to fetch more than $1.6 million, the Osenat
auction house, managing the sale, said. The buyer was later identified as another descendant of Jerome.
Strong enough for battle, the sword is uncommonly ornate, with geometric designs in gold covering the hilt and
most of the blade. The intricately decorated blade is 32 inches in length and curves gently— based on
an inspiration Napoleon drew from his Egyptian campaign, auctioneer Jean- Pierre Osenat said. The sword was carried
by Napoleon — who was not yet Emperor — into the battle of Marengo in June 1800, where he launched a surprise attack
to push the Austrian army fromItaly and seal France's victory.
"It's at the same time a weapon of war and a very beautiful work of art. It symbolizes more than anything else the power,
the force and the incontestable strength of the Emperor Napoleon," Osenat said as he handled the sword. He wore white gloves
to protect its steel and gold surfaces.
The sword was declared a national treasure in 1978, meaning that under French law it could be sold to a foreign buyer but had
to remain in France for at least five months per year.
Restoration of the Mound at Waterloo
It has been reported that restoration work is in progress on the Lion Mound at Waterloo. A large pit has been dug
near the base of the mound, the excavated earth from which is being used to replace earth eroded from the
face of the mound over the years. When asked why battlefield earth is being used for this work, a local inhabitant
replied, "it's probably cheaper." When asked what was going to happen to the pit, the same person responded,
"Oh, they will fill it in." With what? "They will bring more earth in trucks." Amazing logic.
Napoleonic Mass Grave found in Lithuania
The remains of 2,000 men unearthed in a mass grave in Lithuania were members of Napoleon's army that invaded Russia
190 years ago.
When bulldozers accidentally uncovered the remains at a housing development last year, many thought they were political
dissidents executed by secret police during Soviet rule, which ended in 1991. But Arunas Barkus, an anthropologist
at the University of Vilnius, Lithuania's capital, and a dozen other researchers were able to determine the identity of
Deputy French Ambassador Olivier Poupard said the find was the "largest and most significant" of its kind.
"We've been very moved by this discovery," he said. "Suddenly, history was more vivid. You could see it with your eyes...
It's a history so much a part of the collective French memory," he told the Associated Press news agency.
Mr. Barkus and his team spent months charting and tagging the skeletons - then examining each individually to determine
age, sex and possible cause of death. Coins with Napoleon's image and buttons of his Grand Army were also found at the site,
making it clear the remnants were those of the ill-fated French force.
Several bones belonged to boys as young as 15, probably drummers used to signal commands to troops. Many of the skeletons
were found curled up and undamaged, suggesting they were killed by cold, not cannonballs, bullets or bayonets.
DNA tests are being done to test the theory that a lot of men died of typhus.
With the last remains removed, a road has been built over the site, but archaeologists will soon begin searching again,
saying at least 10,000 other skeletons could be nearby.
Since Napoleon's soldiers came from all over his empire, there was never a question of returning the remains to France,
said Mr. Poupard. Most of the remains await ceremonial burial in October, and a monument paid for by France will be
unveiled later. "This is an occasion, especially with Lithuania on the verge of entering the European Union and the
NATO alliance, to show reconciliation between former enemies that are now partners," Mr. Poupard said.
The Emperor Napoleon, who then controlled much of Europe, attacked Russia in June 1812. His 500,000-strong Grand Army,
which marched into Lithuania bound for Moscow, was one of the largest invasion forces ever assembled.
>Six months later, what was left of it - some 40,000 men - stumbled back into Vilnius in retreat. Cold and desperate
for food, some are said to have pillaged local medical schools to eat preserved human organs. In temperatures dropping
to -30oC, dead French soldiers littered the streets within days. The number of corpses nearly equaled the
Reoccupying Russians spent three months cleaning up. They could not dig graves in the frozen ground so they tried burning
bodies, but the smoke and stench were unbearable. So they threw them into a defensive trench dug earlier
by the French themselves - the trench the bulldozers uncovered nearly two centuries later.
The emperor blamed the weather for decimating his army. Some historians say that was an attempt to excuse sloppy planning.
But experts say the findings in Vilnius seem to back Napoleon's version.
The debacle is viewed as the beginning of Napoleon's downfall, which was sealed at Waterloo, Belgium, in 1815.
(from the BBC)
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