Awaken To Napoleon

Bonjour mes amis,

Today we’re talking egos. Massive French ones. My french friends will smile when I write this as it doesn’t come to their surprise either that Napoleon’s enormous tomb under the golden dome of Les Invalides, Paris- is no testament to the size of the man- but a real testament to one massive ego.

What do you think? Take a look at his gigantic tomb which sits on a beautiful green granite pedestal for all to admire.

Beautiful as it is, Napoleon was a small man. They didn’t refer to him as ‘Le Petit Caporal’ (The Little Corporal’) for nothing I guess. Had he been buried with his famous hat (or rather bicorne) on, this could have accounted for the extra wide coffin as he chose to wear his bicorne sideways the same way as many of the French soldiers did at that time.

But no, his bicorne is firmly planted on an iron rod and costume stand in the Musee’ de l’Armee out the back, behind glass of course. Looking at it, you can almost smell the gunfire and the weathered grey leather could definately tell a story or two having been at war for almost twenty years of his lifetime. Can you imagine that?

When you’re next in Paris and feeling historic, walk to the Musee de l’Armee  and you’ll see the resurrected armament and artillery as well as  Napoleon’s  death bed and actual uniforms and austere Regency dress fashion all frozen in time.

Look down at his tiny belt and be instantly bemused at the thought that it encases a very small fleshy chasm indeed! And you’ll wonder no longer- for Napoleon’s actual waistline was a mere petite one when you see for yourself his belt and clothing and you’ll be amazed given the size of his majestic red porphry tomb.

But ego, yes. We already know he crowned himself at Notre Dame!

Do go and see for yourself and tell me what you think. Am I being too harsh on the man? In any case, it’s a casket for a  small man with  enormous spirit and valour-a hero in the extreme and superb strategist (until his Waterloo defeat), who fought tirelessly for the people of France and improved their world entirely. His coffin demands respect and certainly attention!

Perhaps size is everything after all!

As Emperor, Napoleon fostered culture- the Arts and Sciences, built hundreds of roads and introduced taxes for all, a new Civil Code, established a consulate, public education, gave equality to all citizens, rebuilt Paris (with the architect Haussmann) and bid goodbye to the old Feudal Sysem which reigned beforehand.

But let me fill you in my friends and tell you that Napoleon’s coffin has actually six separate coffins inside somewhat akin to those Barbushka nesting dolls, although the coffins are made of  extremely heavy materials like lead and iron and mahogany and even ebony! Napoleon’s remains aren’t going anywhere!

Next time you’re in Paris, visit  Les Invalides and the Museum which was originally intended to be a hospital for retired and crippled soldiers, under the reign of Louis XIV.

See the Chapel under the Dome

and the tombs of Napoleon’s brothers, Joseph and Jerome and Napoleon’s only son (to his second wife, Marie Louise) whose body was returned by Hitler would you believe?

Vaults of interred Generals and other Admirals and Marshalls who fought with Napoleon are all here.

Under one single roof, lies a force with which to be reckoned!

P.S Don’t forget to buy a little gold coin souvenir while you’re there for the little soldier in your life.

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

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