This blog is designed to show the real Napoleon, not the man disparaged by countless writers devoid of the facts who merely regurgitated the same misinformation either in blissful ignorance or in wilful spite.





Sunday, 24 January 2016


In March 1995 a single lock of human hair was sold to an American for £3,680.1 This was no ordinary relic. It came from the head of an exile who spent the last six years of his life upon a lonely speck of rock in the South Atlantic. For decades those frail strands of hair had kept a dark secret. Each contained minute traces of arsenic, a clear indication that the donor had been poisoned. The lock still exists today as mute testimony to the crime of the century – the murder of Napoleon.
   History is written by the victors. During his time as First Consul, and then Emperor of the French, Napoleon was castigated by the British press and by its corrupt Establishment. He was the Corsican Ogre, the cause of all wars, an evil man who had to be destroyed at all costs. Mothers threatened their children with his name and his face appeared inside chamber pots.
   Black propaganda has coloured innumerable subsequent histories written over a period of two hundred years and, as a result, errors, misinformation and downright lies have come to be accepted as fact. In England he has been dubbed a ‘monster genius’ by one historian and ‘a great, bad man’ by another. Many English writers dismiss him merely as the general who lost at Waterloo.2
   In France, after his fall from power, the Royalists printed anything that might sully his name. During the so-called White Terror, officers and men who had fought for him were hunted down and executed without trial, at the express demand of Lord Liverpool, the British Prime Minister, who was determined to wreak a fanatical revenge upon those misguided French nationals who had dared to support Napoleon.
   We know of Trafalgar and Waterloo, but how many British people know about this?
   Napoleon embodied the principle that the individual mattered, that careers should be open to talent and should not just be the province of the highborn and the well-to-do. This was anathema to the British ruling class and their counterparts, the French aristocracy who clung to a belief in the divine right of kings. To them there was no such thing as the Rights of Man, only the Right of Might.
   Following the spread of the doctrine of democracy after the American War of Independence, the French Revolution of 1789, the death knell of privilege, was bound to provoke a furious reaction from the courts of Europe. They would do anything to nip the concept of individual freedom in the bud. Hence common cause was made against the figurehead of the new ideas – Napoleon. The huge bribes secretly paid by the British Government to foreign powers to entice them into wars against France certainly helped this process along.
   In Napoleonic France, advancement was possible for gifted people of all ranks. The Emperor was a pragmatist. He even allowed hundreds of former aristocrats back into France if they were prepared to serve him. In the process he unwittingly welcomed his would-be assassins.
   The ordinary Frenchman did much better under Napoleon than they had ever done under the Bourbons. Napoleon restored peace within France; his Concordat with the Pope re-established Catholicism as the religion of the majority of the French people; his Napoleonic Code instituted a body of laws that confirmed the property rights of the millions of peasants who had gained land after the Revolution – it is still the basis of the French legal system today.
   His soldiers worshipped him. One has only to read the memoirs of Sergeant Bourgogne and Captain Coignet to see that. Under Napoleon, every soldier believed there was a baton in his knapsack. Anything was possible - they had seen it happen. Men of humble birth like Ney and Murat became marshals, princes, even kings. Napoleon’s personal charisma was almost magical. When he was a boy, Heine, the German poet, saw him: ‘high on horseback, the eternal eyes set in the marble of that imperial visage, looking on, calm as destiny, at his guards as they march past. He was sending them to Russia, and the old grenadiers glanced up at him with so anxious a devotion, such sympathy, such earnestness and lethal pride: Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant!’3
   Napoleon supported French industry and provided political stability after the chaos of the Revolution. As a result, the peasants and the middle-classes prospered and France became a great nation once again. Compared to the days of the old monarchy, the French people had never had it so good. What else had Europe to offer?
   In England, Old Farmer George, King George III, after losing the American colonies because of his asinine inability to compromise, went mad and spent his time shaking hands with trees and talking to them. His son Prinny, the Prince Regent, convinced himself he had actually led the charge at Waterloo, when the only charge he did lead was the one for the dinner table. Prinny was loathed by the British public because of the way he treated his estranged wife, Princess Caroline. The Royals lived in a world of their own, blind to the misery endured by ordinary Britons at a time of economic hardship and depression.
   Wellington was short of cavalry at Waterloo because the politicians at Whitehall relied on mounted troops to keep the people down in Britain and Ireland. They were even more concerned with quelling internal dissent than they were in defeating France. Some 78,400 people were transported to Australia in only nine years, 1816-1825, many for merely daring to question the way the country was being governed.4
   Napoleon was three times acclaimed by national plebiscite in France. No one ever voted for Louis XVIII who succeeded him. If Napoleon became the heart and soul of France, Louis can be said to have been its stomach. A political lightweight, he made up for it on the personal level, weighing in at 310 lbs. Twice he returned to Paris in the baggage train of the Allies – he needed it, no horse could carry him. Waddling along, limping, plagued by gout, and with his penchant for blond young men, he was yet mystified by the fact that the populace preferred Napoleon to himself.
   It was Louis’ sinister brother and heir Charles, comte d’Artois, who began making plans for the murder of Napoleon. D’Artois could execute ‘traitors’ every day of the week and still go to Mass on a Sunday. He was a true scion of the Old School. 
 Comte d’Artois, brother of Louis XVIII – Bowes Museum, England © John Tarttelin

   In 1792, with the blessing of Pitt’s government, d’Artois began planning the Bourbon restoration from a base on Jersey. Living there were 7,500 émigré priests and nobles, all eager to regain privileges and sinecures swept away by the Revolution. There, in the greatest secrecy, with the knowledge of just a few men in the British Cabinet, d’Artois set up his infamous Chevalier de la Foi. This nest of spies and death squads was given the task of restoring Louis to the throne. From Jersey, British vessels could easily land agents on the mainland at the dead of night.5
   When Napoleon overthrew the French Directory in 1799, the issue became personalized. D’Artois’ pathological hatred of the Corsican Usurper knew no bounds. To him, Napoleon was evil incarnate, the Antichrist.
   Royalist guerrillas fought in Brittany and Normandy and when his troops defeated them, Napoleon had the magnanimity to offer one of their leaders, Georges Cadoudal, a commission in the Army. Cadoudal fled to Jersey instead. Once there he organized a plot to kill Napoleon with a bomb.
   On December 24th 1800, Cadoudal’s man, Saint-Regent, abandoned a wine cart in the rue Saint-Nicaise in Paris. A thirteen- year-old girl was left holding the horse’s reins. Napoleon was due to pass on his way to the opera. However, his coachman was suspicious. Whipping his horses on, he careered past the cart. The people in the carriages behind were not so lucky. The innocent girl was blown to bits, more than a dozen others were killed, and over 200 were wounded. Cadoudal slunk back to Britain.
   D’Artois had backed the plot. His agent, d’Auvergne, who was also the British naval commander in Jersey, provided the gunpowder, the money for the operation, and the vessel necessary to land Cadoudal on the French coast – all on the orders of William Pitt. It was nothing less than state sponsored terrorism.
   Two years later, during the Peace of Amiens, Captain d’Auvergne went to Paris to meet fellow agents. He wore his British uniform in case he was arrested as a spy. He was caught and imprisoned, but when the British Ambassador intervened, Napoleon had him released after thorough questioning.
   Parliament was in uproar. Napoleon had dared to arrest a British officer with a valid passport at a time of peace. The French Ambassador in London leaked the real reason for d’Auvergne’s arrest to prominent political figures. With the possibility of Chants D’Auvergne ringing in their ears, the Cabinet panicked. The thought that the British public might find out about their illicit dealings with d’Artois, which were still continuing despite the peace, terrified them. Thus, with delicious irony, Lord Liverpool was forced to speak up in Parliament on Napoleon’s behalf. Perhaps that is why, after Waterloo, he was determined to have killed as many people as possible who had ever supported Napoleon.
   Napoleon’s military career is well known. More than 300,000 books have been written about him, more than any other individual in history. After his final defeat, with misplaced trust, he threw himself upon British justice, seeking asylum upon these shores. There was precious little freedom and justice for ordinary Britons, still less was there to be for the fallen Emperor.
   Betrayed by numerous Frenchmen he had elevated to prominence, Napoleon surrendered to Captain Maitland of HMS Bellerophon – ‘Billy Ruffian’. He was taken to Torbay where crowds of people came from all over Britain just to catch a glimpse of him. However, it was imperative for the Cabinet that he did not land. The public, far more noble than their self-seeking politicians, had sympathy for Napoleon and would have allowed him to stay in England. On August 3rd 1815 an article appeared in The Times stating that an Act of Parliament was necessary to detain Napoleon and another would be necessary to intern him in a British colony.6 Frightened by this growing support for him, Lord Liverpool gave the order to have Napoleon transported to Saint Helena on board HMS Northumberland. With him was a certain comte de Montholon.
Montholon had attached himself to Napoleon after Waterloo and asked to share his exile. He was, in fact, d’Artois’ agent, and murder was on his mind.7
   Napoleon’s death had to be seen as an accident. Any obvious action would have led to widespread insurrection in France and, at the very least, extremely awkward questions being raised in a Parliament that was already greatly concerned with the growing republican movement in Britain. So Montholon began to lace Napoleon’s wine with arsenic. The body’s natural reaction is to disperse the poison where it will do the least harm, hence it got into his hair.
   Montholon arranged for the removal of most of Napoleon’s faithful companions after inveigling his way into the Emperor’s affections. Montholon was soon the only person Napoleon trusted. His fate was sealed. With his health failing rapidly, Napoleon stated in his will: ‘I die before my time, murdered by the English oligarchy and its hired assassin.’ To the very end, he never suspected Montholon. He died on May 5th 1821, leaving Montholon 2,000,000 francs in his will. For the final time, Napoleon had been betrayed by someone he trusted. A lock of hair was taken from his corpse and eventually found its way to Phillips’ Saleroom in London.
   A French delegation arrived at Saint Helena to reclaim Napoleon’s body in 1840. When his grave was opened the onlookers were stunned. Napoleon’s sightless eyes stared back at them, for the arsenic which had poisoned the Emperor had also preserved his body. His remains now lie in a splendid mausoleum in Paris.
   In June 1994 Professor Maury of Montpelier University announced that he had Montholon’s written confession to Napoleon’s murder. This corroborates the findings of Dr Sten Forshufvud, Ben Weider, and David Hamilton-Williams. Tests done on samples of Napoleon’s hair at Glasgow University have revealed traces of arsenic inside the hair follicles. There is no way that arsenic from wallpaper or hair pomades could get inside the hair. Furthermore, Sten Forshufvud, a trained toxicologist who had studied the Emperor’s mysterious symptoms for years, proved that the levels of arsenic inside the strands of hair, coincided with bouts of illness described in the memoir of Marchand, Napoleon’s trusted valet. Whenever the levels of arsenic reached critical levels, Napoleon became ill. The work of Sten Forshufvud and Ben Weider has proved beyond a doubt and with scientific certainty, that Napoleon was poisoned on Saint Helena.
   Does Napoleon’s corpse continue with its victory over death even to this day? If a lock of hair was worth £3,680 in 1995, an intriguing question remains – what is his body worth? Napoleon’s signature alone fetched £150 back then and its value increases every year.8 His reputation meanwhile, needs to be reassessed and revalued.

© John Tarttelin 2016
M.A. History, FINS, Legion of Merit
A Souladream Production 

This article forms one chapter of my book
THE REAL NAPOLEON – The Untold Story
Available as a paperback, on Amazon Kindle
 and on Smashwords.

1. The Sunday Times London March 26th 1995. It also reported that there were more than 100 other Napoleon lots up for auction in March 1995 alone. In the article by Peter Johnson it says: ‘In a multitude of forms from portrait miniatures to life-sized statues, from love letters to battlefield autographs, he is revered by collectors.’ He also adds: ‘by contrast a lock of hair from the Duke of Wellington’s (head) was a snip at £598.’
   Napoleon’s popularity with collectors is phenomenal. On September 18th 1988 The Sunday Telegraph London reported a: ‘Brush with history – No plaque is expected to mark the spot, but Napoleon’s silver and gold-plated toothbrush goes under the hammer next month at the Munich auction house of Herman Historica.’
2. Napoleon was called a ‘monster genius’ by the English journalist Nigel Nicholson in an article in the Daily Telegraph London of September 3rd 1988. Nicolson’s twisted portrayal of Napoleon is far too ludicrous ever to be called ‘history’. Napoleon was called a ‘great bad man’, by David Chandler in the video series called The Great Commanders. Chandler, who was a great historian, shortly before his own death came to accept that Napoleon had been murdered by Montholon  – for years he would not accept the fact.
3. Quoted in Paul Britten Austin 1812 The March On Moscow (1993) 29
4. David Hamilton-Williams The Fall Of Napoleon  (1994) 330
5. Ibid. APPENDIX II The Royalist Underground and the Chevaliers de la Foi 302-308
6. Ibid. 271
7. Ibid. 273
8. Peter Johnson article in The Sunday Times March 26th 1995. See above.

1.      Austin Paul Britten 1812 The March On Moscow (London: Greenhill Books, 1993)
2.     Hamilton-Williams David The Fall Of Napoleon  (London: Arms and Armour Press, 1994)
3.     Nicolson Nigel 1812 (London: Weidenfeld And Nicolson, 1985)
4.      Weider Ben And Hapgood David The Murder Of Napoleon (New York: Congdon And Lattès Inc. 1982)

Sunday, 20 December 2015


Dan Snow – Under the Weather

Snow entitles his March 14th 2015 article for the Daily Telegraph:

‘The French should end their love affair with Napoleon – he was an utterly brutal and callous dictator.’

   Snow writes as if he’s addressing teenagers in a history comic. His grasp of world events is superficial and his knowledge of Napoleon virtually non-existent. His copy reveals a naive exuberance from someone who can’t believe he is writing for a national newspaper, leave alone the fact he is the BBC’s latest ‘historian’.
   He states that: ‘Americans annihilated a race of people as they forged a vast empire…’ No they didn’t, there are tens of thousands of Native Americans still alive and flourishing. What he should have said was - there was mass genocide of the natives by Spaniards and later by other white Europeans. Does he know what the word annihilate means? To help him out - the dictionary definition is ‘destroy completely’.
    He then describes the Vikings ‘whose dragonships penetrated Europes’s great rivers like poison moving through arteries.’ Rather a derogatory comment for someone who presents programmes for the ultra PC BBC. He is trying to be clever with words and as a result he waves his own ignorance like a flag. The Vikings travelled to America; founded York and Dublin; started a colony in Greenland; formed part of the Byzantine Varangian Guard; conquered England and gave Alfred the Great a good run for his money. The Swedish Vikings – the Rus – gave their name to Russia. But none of this is hinted at in Young Snow’s phrase comparing them to ‘poison moving through arteries.’
    He then turns his adolescent history awareness to Napoleon and says with complete impartiality: ‘Two hundred years ago this month, the deposed Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was rampaging north of Paris, intent on seizing back power.’ Wrong on all counts. Napoleon was not deposed, he had abdicated in 1814, and he already had power in 1815 after his triumphal return to Paris without a shot being fired. Napoleon was immeasurably more popular than the twenty stone Bungy Louis XVIII who had never been voted for by anyone – unlike Napoleon with his plebiscites – and still thought he had a divine right to rule because his porky majesty just happened to be dubbed a Bourbon.
   What Snow really deserves to be taken to task for is not even mentioning that Napoleon wrote personally to all the main rulers in Europe asking for peace after his return to France – the exact opposite of ‘rampaging’. His letter to the Prince Regent was never even given to that obese alcoholic opium addict who spent thousands of pounds on his clothes and palaces while millions of ordinary British people didn’t even have enough to eat. The reason taxes in England were sky high was because the corrupt British Cabinet was hell bent on fomenting war with Napoleon with every chance they could get. Pitt and his cabal of ultra-rich aristocratic accomplices paid for numerous attempts to kill Napoleon. These assassination attempts were nothing less than state-sponsored terrorism. Napoleon believed it beneath his dignity to respond in kind.
   Britain paid for Austria and Russia to attack France in 1805 and for most of the other so-call Coalitions; Prussia declared war on France in 1806; the Russians attacked first in 1807; the Austrians invaded Bavaria, Napoleon’s ally in 1809 without a declaration of war thinking Napoleon too preoccupied in Spain; Russia hoped to attack Napoleon’s ally the Grand Duchy of Warsaw in 1811 but could get no support from the usual suspects. Then, in 1815 the Allies having illegally proscribed Napoleon personally as an outlaw (thereby encouraging yet more assassination attempts), declared war on him as an individual. They would never have dreamt of treating a member of the old Royalty in such a cruel and offhand manner. Their hatred of the French Revolution and their fear of universal human rights spreading to their own backward and repressive countries were so great that they wanted to destroy the one man who freed all Jews in his Empire and gave them equal rights and who allowed people to rise on their own merits unlike the petrified feudal systems that prevailed everywhere else on the Continent.
   Young Snow is wrong in nearly everything he says.
   He thus compounds his ignorance when he states that in 1815 soldiers faced: ‘a fate… condemned by his ambition.’ Was it Napoleon’s ambition that led Canning to order an attack on neutral Copenhagen in 1807? The British Navy bombarded the benighted civilians of Denmark with Congreve Rockets, the first occasion when Weapons of Mass Destruction were ever used on a civilian population. Criminal British politicians and WMD have a long history. The British forces then stole the Danish navy or burnt the remaining vessels they were unable to seize. During the same campaign Wellington had a great victory over clog wearing civilian militia. What a stirring military victory that was for Britannia!
   Was it Napoleon’s ambition that led Nelson to execute Admiral Caraccioli and dozens of unarmed Neapolitan rebels in 1799 who had been promised freedom after they had surrendered? Coming late to the scene Nelson persuaded the Bourbon rulers – at Emma Hamilton’s insistence – to renege on the previous agreement and execute the poor souls who were rotting alive on ships in Naples’ harbour. Ah yes - another British triumph! Nelson actually was a titch unlike Napoleon. Our odious midget admiral stood 5 feet two inches tall as opposed to Napoleon’s 5 feet six. But Emma Hamilton loved him despite the fact he had precious few teeth, one arm and only one eye. She loved him to bits.
    For this massacre Nelson was given £3,000 a year and the Duchy of Bronte by his Bourbon hosts. He was condemned for his actions even by Robert Southey his first biographer and a creature of the Establishment: ‘a faithful historian is called upon to pronounce a severe and unqualified condemnation of Nelson’s conduct.’ (page 195 Life of Nelson). However, Nelson himself gushed to Emma Hamilton: ‘I am now perfectly the great man – not a creature near me.’ In bald truth – Nelson was a murderer.
    Don’t we all just love British fair play? But we certainly don’t get it with Young Snow.
   Was it Napoleon’s ambition that led the United States to declare war on England in 1812 because the Royal Navy claimed the right to board every neutral vessel and seize cargoes that might help the French? No the overweening arrogance of those in power in this country led them to believe they could do whatever they wanted. In fact, believing in might is right, they often could. Britain was the great oppressor in those days – starting at home with its own people, who were imprisoned or transported to Australia, merely for asking for the vote and a few human rights of their own. Some were even massacred by mounted thugs working for the local magistrates, like at Peterloo in 1819. How ironic that one soldier who fought against Napoleon at Waterloo was scythed down by his own militia back in Manchester!
   Yes, everything is Napoleon’s fault!
   Snow ought to read a little more, or indeed anything, about what happened to the Unitarians during the time of those he lauds so much. William Hazlitt has eloquently described the torments and terrors inflicted upon its own population by the self-serving creatures in Parliament at the time of Napoleon. Hazlitt wept when Napoleon died. Snow’s whitewashing of British history provokes tears of laughter from this historian.
   Snow claims that Napoleon: ‘abandoned his army in the depths of a Russian winter.’ Wrong again. As Bourgogne describes in his superb account of the retreat from Russia, Napoleon had heard of the Malet conspiracy back in Paris and his senior officers knew that his place was back in the capital where he could restore order and try and recoup from a disastrous campaign. Bourgogne also mentions British spies at work in Poland. One would expect them to twist the facts at a time of war – there is no excuse for Snow to do the same now.
   Snow says: ‘Napoleon, Caesar, Clive, perhaps even Churchill, are heroes for an age that is past.’ Isn’t it a tad arrogant for a 37-year-old who has never lived through a major war, certainly one with such a poor grasp of history, to tell the rest of us what we should think? To my father’s generation Churchill will always be a hero because of the morale effect of his radio speeches during the War. Caesar boasted of being personally responsible for the death of a million Gauls. Caesar was only a hero to himself. Clive of India is unknown to most British people today. Indeed, the general state of historical knowledge in this country is dire. And Snow went to Balliol – rather proving the point. History as a subject has not been taught well, if at all, in our schools for years.
   Then we come to a real Snowism: ‘Napoleon was a brilliant commander, an able administrator, a man who bent to the arc of history with the heat of his desire.’ Just what exactly is that supposed to mean? Don’t they teach English at Oxford? And what does it say for the linguistic appreciation of the Daily Telegraph when they print such asinine drivel?
   Snow continues with his character assassination, saying that Napoleon was ‘a man who made legions of widows, orphans and invalids as he pursued his version of destiny.’ As if all those Danish civilians were blaming Napoleon in 1807! Napoleon was on Saint Helena being poisoned by Montholon in 1819 when the Manchester militia cut down peaceful, unarmed men, women and children who had come together merely to discuss the future of their country. Hasn’t Snow read anything?
    Napoleon wrote to the Prince Regent asking for peace in early 1805 – months before Trafalgar. The historian Walter Runciman has described how the British Government arrogantly refused even to respond to Napoleon’s attempt to make peace. Snow began his diatribe by claiming that Napoleon was ‘a brutal and callous dictator.’ Runciman states that had that been so, Napoleon would have executed the duplicitous Monarchs whose armies constantly attacked him and which were usually  defeated by him, but instead he forgave them time after time, even marrying Marie Louise the daughter of his longtime enemy Austria. Napoleon repeatedly tried to engage with the old aristocratic families of Europe. He let émigrés return to France and with his own Legion of Honour he tried to install a deserving meritocracy in place of the old traditional aristocracy.
   As to being ‘callous’ – the first thing Napoleon did at the start of the retreat from Russia was to give up his own coach for the wounded. In Coignet’s biography we see him repeatedly describing the Emperor’s efforts to care for the wounded. With Jean  Larrey, Napoleon had the best surgeon in Europe at that time and Larrey made sure the French Army was the first to have a proper ambulance chain. When one of his mounted officers disturbed a wounded Russian soldier after the battle of Borodino, the man cried out, the French officer saying that it was only a Russian. Napoleon reproached him and added: ‘After a victory there are only men.’
    When did Wellington ever give up his coach for a mere soldier? He notoriously called his men ‘scum’. The only useful thing that arrogant Irishman left for posterity was a name for his boots. To him, the common soldier was something to be scraped from the bottom of them. Napier, another Irishman, writer of the monumental History of the Peninsula War and on Wellington’s side during England’s wars against Napoleon lamented that ordinary British soldiers were never even ‘seen’ by their leaders. Their heroic acts were always anonymous and went unrewarded. The ordinary British footslogger was never given a medal and if he was a Catholic he could never become a general. There was no religious discrimination in Napoleon’s Army. Napier compared this blatantly hierarchical system to that of the French under Napoleon and very much preferred the latter.
   To Goethe Napoleon was the greatest man of the C19th. To the German Jew Heine he was the greatest man who ever lived. Nietzsche admired him. Napoleon has given his name to over a dozen settlements in the United States. Around 1,000 books a year are written about him – including my own The Real Napoleon – The Untold Story: over 250,000 now in total. He died in 1821, less than two hundred years ago. Two of my grandparents were born in 1881 and 1890. That is how recent he was alive. And most educated people today have heard of Napoleon – even though his name is often traduced and scorned and manifest lies and misrepresentations are constantly made about him.
      I shall finish with another Snowism - a whole paragraph this time. Our young ‘historian’ in full flow says: ‘Many people, understandably, are sympathetic to anyone, even Napoleon, who threatened the continued domination of Europe by a caste of befeathered Emperors and Prince Bishops. However, as 1918 was to show, the violent removal of this anachronistic vestige did not lead to fully fledged Lockean liberal states springing like Athena from the forehead of Zeus.’
   Don’t you just wish you could write like that? Alas our cub historian tries too hard to impress and instead just spouts a load of drivel. And who is Dan Snow to say that what happened in 1918 has absolutely anything to do with Napoleon? It beggars believe that such a pathetically one-sided piece can actually get published in one of our national papers. And what’s more there’s more Snow on the BBC than on the winter steppes of Russia - and paid for by compulsory licence fee!
   As Napoleon would say: ‘Bah!’

© 2015 John Tarttelin
A Souladream Production

B.Ed., M.A. (History), Fellow of the International Napoleonic Association (Legion of Merit) Author of The Real Napoleon – The Untold Story (Now writing England’s Wars Against Napoleon) and 45 years reading about Napoleon.

Friday, 11 December 2015


Covering Letter sent with earlier Critique

Souladream Productions
December 11th 2015

Dear Sir,
                   The enclosed critique is self-explanatory. I have been a member of the National Geographic Society for about 25 of the last 30 years. In recent years it has been impossible to ignore your extreme and unwarranted bias. You have persisted in portraying Napoleon in a malignant light and in a highly cavalier and arbitrary manner.  Your writers obviously know nothing about the French Emperor or his times and I resent the fact that my financial contributions are blatantly misused for their repeatedly negative and hostile character assassinations. 
                    In the interest of natural justice and fair play I demand that you refrain from this odious practice immediately.

                    Save the tiger, save the whale, save the planet indeed, but do not use funds donated for charitable purposes to malign an historical figure who has no chance of a right of reply. Malicious and mendacious myths should be left to amateurs and social media and not propagated by the Society that I joined to help encourage archeological excavations, conservation and other worthwhile measures designed to aid our planet. 

C. 2015
 A Souladream Production

Thursday, 10 December 2015


An Illustrated Atlas
National Geographic
(2013 Edition)

Dear Sir,
                I have just read your Atlas that purports to be an accurate account of World history. There is throughout this book a blatantly biased and dismissive account of Napoleon and an utter disregard for his empire.
                 Modern humans have existed for about 200,000 years and today there are about 7.3 billion people. Some 7.5 billion individuals have lived on this planet. In all that time and amidst all those numbers only three historical personages have been known widely by their first names. They are, in chronological order: Alexander, Jesus and Napoleon.
                  After the Bible and its references to Christ, there have been more books written about Napoleon than any other person who has ever lived. He died less than 200 years ago yet there are now at least 250,000 books on Napoleon and 1,000 more are added every year. In your own country more than a dozen settlements have been named ‘Napoleon’ in many different states.
                  The renowned German writer Goethe called Napoleon: ‘The greatest man of the C19th.’ He was the hero of the German Jew Heine. And he was William Hazlitt’s hero in contemporary England. Yet your Atlas virtually ignores him. Worse than that, your writers choose to slander his name and vilify him at every opportunity. This is what your hacks write:
                 ‘In truth, he was one of the many meteoric conquerors with supersize egos throughout history who dazzled the world briefly before they came crashing down, achieving little of lasting significance compared with those who built enduring empires.’ (Page 271)
                 This statement is absolute tosh, and a consummate travesty of history. Your writers are certainly not historians and if that is the best they can do they should stick to fiction.
                  Napoleon gave Jews equal rights in his empire. If he had done nothing else, his memory would have been worth preserving for this act alone. He was also the first person to suggest that Jews be given a homeland in the Holy Land. No wonder he was Heine’s hero. And no wonder that 150 years after his death the Jewish historian Ben Weider set up the International Napoleonic Society to honour his memory and to counteract all the lies and misinformation spread about him over the past two centuries.
                  Ben Weider studied Napoleon and his times for over fifty years. I have been studying Napoleon and his times for over forty years. I simply do not recognize the cartoon character referred to by your jejune and unqualified writers. What academic qualifications have they? And what peer reviewed historical papers or books have they produced? I have read over two hundred books about Napoleon and I have never in over forty years heard of your lamentably informed staff.
                  Without Napoleon the discipline of Egyptology would not exist. He took 177 savants to Egypt and they produced the brilliant Description De L’Egypte - a work of the utmost importance and a cultural icon. Any nation would be proud of such a monumental work of impeccable scholarship. From the start, Napoleon wanted his Egyptian enterprise to be more than a military conquest. What other general in human history has ever undertaken such a venture that redounded to the intellectual benefit and glory of all Mankind? Yet what do your hacks write:
                    ‘… imperial glory seekers such as Napoleon, who invaded Egypt and marveled at monuments that would continue to dazzle onlookers long after the sun set on his ambitions.’ (Page 55)
                    Napoleon’s Description De L’Egypte will last as long as there are people who actually know a little bit about history – it will last forever.
                    Because of Napoleon’s own insatiable intellect, Egypt became the magnet for countless archeologists, writers, painters and historians. And without Napoleon there would have been no Howard Carter, no Tutankhamun’s tomb and no Rosetta stone. Discovered by a French officer during Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign this tri-lingual stone led to the unraveling of the mystery of Hieroglyphics by another great Frenchman - Champollion. There is more extant carving in Egypt than all the other countries in the world put together. Recent satellite imagery has indicated that 97% of Egyptian ruins remain to be unearthed. Without Napoleon’s own intellectual passion that launched the study of Egyptology none of this would even be known.
                    The only other major reference to Napoleon in the Atlas is also on Page 271: ‘Despite Napoleon’s smashing victories on the Continent, he remained hemmed in by the British navy, which shattered his fleet at Trafalgar in 1805. When Russia joined the British in opposing him, he launched a disastrous invasion of that country in 1812 and was forced into exile. Attempting to return to power, he was crushed at Waterloo in 1815 by Britain’s Duke of Wellington.’
                      There is simply no context to this threadbare account of Napoleon’s time in power. He brought peace to France after the Revolution, signed the Concordat with the Pope, instituted the Bank of France, built roads, canals and bridges and beautified cities and had not Britain paid millions to persuade other countries to attack him who knows what else he might have achieved? It was due to Prime Minister Pitt’s malign influence that war in Europe became endemic. Millions from the Bank of England poured into the impoverished coffers of Austria and Russia. They were bankrupt and without this financial aid would never have been able to attack Napoleon in 1805.
                     The British reneged on the treaty of Amiens in 1803, Napoleon was attacked in 1805, in 1806 by Prussia, in 1807 by Russia, in 1809 by Austria and in 1815 the so-called Allies declared war on him despite his plea for peace sent to all the European monarchs who had opposed him in the past. In 1811 Tsar Alexander hoped to attack France but found that nobody else was interested. In 1812, driven to distraction by the Tsar’s treachery (he who was implicit in the murder of his own father and who slept with his own sister), Napoleon launched his ill-fated 1812 campaign. He hoped for one decisive battle - like Austerlitz in 1805 - that would sway the duplicitous Russians back into the fold, but the coldest Russian winter for 100 years doomed the enterprise from the very beginning.
                      The hacks mention Waterloo without any reference whatsoever to the Prussian involvement in the battle. More Germans fought that day than either French or British. Of Wellington’s 69,000 troops less than 24,000 were British. It was a great German victory. Tim Clayton’s excellent recent book Waterloo shows how Wellington’s decimated troops were pushed way back on the ridge of Mont Saint-Jean and without the arrival of Blucher and the Prussians there would have been no Allied victory.
                    As all proper historians know, Napoleon was attacked because he was anathema to the Divine Right monarchs of his day who dreaded that France might export the Revolution to their countries. Napier, the great British historian of the Peninsula Wars says so at the start of his monumental work. And the English historian Walter Runciman stated that if Great Britain had left Napoleon alone and not rejected his calls in early 1805 for peace with such overweening arrogance, then the two countries could have co-existed in peace. But the National Geographic hacks obviously know nothing about all this.
                     In the timeline at the back of the Atlas there is only one tiny reference to Napoleon – again derogatory: ‘1812 Tsar Alexander I withstands invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte.’ (Page 355)
                     The Atlas does not mention Catherine the Great’s hatred of the Revolution, nor Russia’s attacks on France by Suvarov, Tsar Paul and Alexander himself in 1805, 1807, the putative attack in 1811, or the 1815 Coalition against Napoleon.
                     There are many more omissions in this book supposedly about great empires. There is no mention of the Anglo-Saxon empire of Athelstan - the grandson of Alfred the Great - who after the Battle of Brunanburgh in AD 937 affectively created the English nation. He was dubbed the Emperor of the whole world of Britain at the time because of his great victory over the Northern Coalition. England has been a nation for nearly 1100 years but the National Geographic doesn’t seem to realize the fact. There is also no mention of the great Viking Dark Age empires. Without the Vikings who had a settlement in Greenland as late as AD1450, Columbus would have known little of what lay across the Atlantic.
                     According to the hacks, Napoleon was an inconsequential nobody – even though 1,000 books are written about him every year! Yet the Atlas has pages on the so-called Comanche empire and the like and it enthuses about the Dominians of the Mali and Songhai and other household names like the Asante Osei Tutu Opemsoo – what a consummate dude he was. I can’t see a brandy being named after him for quite a while…
                     Throughout, the Atlas reeks of Political Correctness – which is anathema and poison to a genuine historian. It is interesting that Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Republic copied Napoleon’s coronation ceremony exactly when he crowned himself emperor in 1977. This homage to Napoleon nearly bankrupted his country. He did not bend over backwards to emulate our friend Osei Tutu Opemsoo. Didn’t Bokassa know that Napoleon was a ‘nobody’? Perhaps the National Geographic forgot to tell him.
                      The job of an historian is to tell it all as it really was, without fear or favour. Even though I am English, I believe the rule of Napoleon was far better than that of the corrupt and unrepresentative oligarchy that controlled Britain in the late C18th and early C19th. The English politician Canning ordered the British Navy to bombard neutral Copenhagen in 1807 killing 2,000 unarmed civilians – and they also stole or destroyed the whole of the Danish fleet. Nelson had dozens of Neapolitan rebels executed on his own orders in 1799 – murdered in effect. And he was rewarded with the Dukedom of Bronte by the Bourbons for his pains. The British invented concentration camps during the Boer War and hundreds of Boer women and children starved to death in them.
                    There is enough shame and horror to go around. The Germans inaugurated The Final Solution and gassed millions of Jews during the Second World War. That ‘nobody’ Napoleon gave them equal rights. The American empire gave us the My Lai massacre, Agent Orange, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo – and the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis in the search for non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction.
                   Finally, a look today on Google led to 73,100,000 references to Napoleon. The National Geographic has blown both its feet off with its misleading and untruthful caricature of Napoleon. Unfortunately it has a ‘history’ of such things. I add a review I did of its take on Waterloo, a programme entitled Napoleon’s Last Battle shown on British television on March 11th 2009. It was almost physically painful to watch such an embarrassing excuse for proper history.

          John Tarttelin Teaching Certificate (history and geography), B.Ed., (history), M.A. (history), FINS (Legion of Merit) author of the Real Napoleon - The Untold Story and 45 years of reading about Napoleon.

MARCH 11TH, 2009, UK

I have just watched an appalling programme about Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo on the National Geographic Channel. It was replete with all the usual lies and misrepresentations that are made about him. I was so moved by its one-sidedness that I immediately sent the email below in protest. As Ben used to say, the same untruths are constantly repeated - but one expects better from the National Geographic!
Members of the INS might be surprised at just how high some of the same old nonsense comes from.

Dear Sir,
               I have just watched your programme about Napoleon. It was a bigger disaster than Waterloo! This one-sided travesty of a programme is unworthy of the high standards that the National Geographic normally stands for. It was a truly awful production, full of mistakes and factual errors. And there were massive and glaring omissions.
               The final comment: ‘A life written in blood’ is absolutely pathetic and woefully biased against Napoleon. Your programme is an exercise in character assassination - whatever it is - it certainly isn't objective history as I understand the term. Your revolting portrayal of the French Emperor cries out for a reply. It is easy to slander the dead who cannot fight back.
               Your partisan film is worthy of the worst of English High Tory arrogance and nationalism. I expect better from a nation that owed its very existence to the French navy at Yorktown. Without the money given to the Americans by French officers, and the support of De Grasse's navy, Washington, would never have taken Yorktown. (Source: Jay Luvaas P. 152 Clues to America's Past (1976) - National Geographic books).
               Not once in your 'programme' did you mention the fact that Napoleon was nearly always attacked first by the Allies. It was the British that broke the Treaty of Amiens by refusing to evacuate Malta, and it was the British Cabinet and Pitt who paid for the terrorist attacks upon Napoleon perpetrated by the Comte d'Artois the evil younger brother of Louis XVIII, and his infamous group the Chevalier de la Foi. Many innocent French civilians were murdered in these assassination attempts - but absolutely no mention in your dreadful programme.
              You did not mention the fact that the British paid millions of pounds in subsidies to the Austrians and Russians to encourage them to ATTACK  Napoleon in 1805. Your coverage of the Battle of Austerlitz was very vague - no mention of the Pratzen Heights. It was because the Russians and Austrians took control of these that they were convinced that Napoleon was planning a retreat. That led to their overconfidence and their subsequent drubbing.
             After Napoleon's victory, Emperor Francis of Austria said: ‘The English are traders in human flesh’. By then he realized he had been duped into fighting by the British. You say nothing about this.
             There was no mention of the fact that Prussia ATTACKED Napoleon in 1806 - no mention of Prussia at all until 1815.
             You skate over the plebiscite that gave Napoleon the position of Consul for life by 3,000,0000 votes to 8,000. Why did you not mention that no other country in Europe had any elections whatsoever? The most glaring error in your film was that there was not one mention of divine right believed in by all the monarchs of the period. They believed their right to rule came from God himself! THAT is why they were fighting Napoleon and constantly attacking him. The last thing they wanted was for the French to have a Republic (like the one those French officers helped bequeath to you Americans).
            You did not mention that Austria ATTACKED Napoleon again in 1809, thinking that he was preoccupied in Spain. You do not say a single word about Spain - another glaring omission.
            Talleyrand virtually handed Paris over to the Allies in 1814. Napoleon lost power in 1814 because he was betrayed. He was not defeated militarily, and he was not technically a 'prisoner'. He voluntarily gave up the throne after several of his Marshals betrayed him as well, notably Marmont, the Duke of Raguser. That very word in French today means traitor.
            When Napoleon landed in France, you rightly say it was a 'gamble' but you made little mention of the sheer elation felt by millions of French people at his return. Louis XVIII was loathed by the French - and unlike Napoleon, nobody had ever voted for him.
             You say the Allies flocked to Belgium - palpable nonsense. Only the Anglo-Dutch-German and Prussian armies where anywhere near the crucial fighting zone. The reason Napoleon attacked was precisely because he hoped to defeat these two armies in turn before any other of the divine right monarchist armies could enter the fray.
            Why did you not mention the fact that the first thing Napoleon did on his arrival in Paris in 1815 was to write to the Prince Regent in England and the other Allies requesting peace? Were you trying to blacken his name on purpose? He wanted peace - he needed peace. France was a basket case under the Bourbons - they who learnt nothing and forgot nothing.
            You then make a terrible conflation of two battles. You go on about Ney and the cavalry and then talk of Marshal Grouchy going after the Prussians. Hopeless! In fact, despite having a hangover on the day of Quatre Bras, and being slow to get his men to the vital crossroads, Ney held his own. Wellington was lucky that one of his commanders disobeyed a direct order and reinforced Quatre Bras with Allied troops. Wellington hadn't a clue what was going on until the fighting for the crossroads was well underway, and then he had the sense to reinforce those men established there in contravention to his earlier direct order.
            You stated several times that Napoleon hoped to re-establish his Empire when he returned to France in 1815. The fact is he was fighting for his very survival having been proscribed by the Allies at the Congress of Vienna. He had no other option than to fight because they were going to ATTACK him. This international proscription was illegal even in 1815 and Wellington later had the grace to say it should not have been done.
            You state that Napoleon was the 'cause' of six million dead in battle. That is demonstrably a lie. As I have detailed above. MOST of the time, he was the one attacked!
            Your utterly biased, prejudiced and one-sided character assassination is unworthy of the National Geographic. It plays like a rather evil Walt Disney production - bearing little reality to what actually happened during those momentous years. You ought to be ashamed of this 'programme' of defamation. It is an utterly appalling waste of the money given in magazine subscriptions by people such as I. Shame on you!

P.S. I have read nearly two hundred books about Napoleon and yet I have never come across any of your 'contributors' in the thirty-five years that I have been researching the period.

Yours sincerely,

John Tarttelin (M.A History) Sheffield, England. FINS.

© 2015
A Souladream Production

Thursday, 18 June 2015


Napoleon at Toulon by Detaille

There are lies, damned lies - and the BBC website. This supposed bastion of truth and knowledge makes Goebbels look like an amateur. This is its take on Napoleon. The piece is entitled Napoleon versus Europe as if to state by definition that all of Europe was against Napoleon and all of Europe disagreed with him. It then goes on:
'To understand Waterloo, it's important to know Napoleon had
been trying to establish a European empire under his military dictatorship since 1804.'

Obviously, no hint of any bias there whatsoever.

'The British defeated him at Trafalgar in 1805, but Napoleon went on to invade 
countries across Europe before being forced to abdicate. He returned to Paris in 
March 1815, prompting Britain, Prussia, Russia and Austria to declare war.'

So says the BBC in its sacred scrolls. Oh, so it must be true then...

Above is a picture of a young Napoleon at Toulon. The British Navy had been invited into harbour by Royalist rebels. After all, the British would not have minded if the French navy invaded Portsmouth would they? Napoleon personally placed the French guns under intense fire and braved the hazards his men faced - unlike the British politicians who repeatedly paid for Austrian and Russian soldiers to attack France. The British paid - the foreigners died. The British Navy had no right to be in French waters - but then the navy of his Britannic Majesty arrogantly believed that even a duckpond should be served by a British vessel.

 It was this consummate arrogance that led the Americans to declare war in 1812. The British impressed American sailors claiming they were still really 'British' despite the American Revolution. Incidently, at the battle of New Orleans on January 8th 1815, the same year as Waterloo, his Majesty's forces were utterly destoyed by Andrew Jackson and his "dirty shirts" - 2,000 redcoats killed for only seven American dead and six wounded. Why was I never taught this in my English grammar school? I wonder if this battle is covered on the BBC website...  It was a victory on a par with Waterloo which the British try to pretend never happened.

 As the English historian Walter Runciman has said, when the British Government rejected Napoleon's peace feelers in early 1805 - we had no cause to insult him treat him like an imposter and an inferior which is what we did. Runciman believes that had we treated with Napoleon honestly there need never have been war between the two countries.

But it was war that the British wanted. Pitt and his ilk could never accept the French Revolution. What - equal rights for the common people? Heaven forfend! So hierarchical was British Society, they could have taught the Indian caste system a thing or two. The Royal Family were literally a breed apart - like the Bourbons they believed God had put them in their illustrious stations and sanctioned their every utterance with gospel-like authority. This First Family consisted of a stammering nutter and a sex-crazed obese drunk and opium addict who believed he had fought at Waterloo himself. Like father - like son...  'Prinny' was a sexually incontinent imbecile who thought he was the bees' knees. God help poor Britannia!

So strict were the social conventions of the day that when Nelson wanted to sport Lady Hamilton on his one good arm at posh parties, the aristocratic toffs would have none of it. This pissed Nelson off no end. Nelson callously ignored his wife just like that other 'hero' Wellington, who treated his wife abominably. His descendant Lady Jane Welesley has said he was : 'A bad husband and an inadequate father.' At their only ever meeting, Wellington was shocked to discover that Nelson thought even more of himself than the Duke did of himself! Wellington was a snob, who treated his inferiors badly and sucked up to his superiors. No wonder he called his men 'scum'. They fought heroically for him and admired him as a general, but they didn't love him as Napoleon's soldiers loved him. In Tim Clayton's book Waterloo there are many accounts of British surgeons amputating the limbs of French soldiers who subsequently died with Napoleon's name upon their lips.  The word 'Emperor' was often the very last breathed by many a French soldier.

But none of this is on the BBC website...

To return to the gospel according to the BBC - and Napoleon versus Europe -  the British and French had been fighting each other for decades - long before Napoleon was born. Without French help, the Americans would never had gained their independence, a temporary mastery of the sea by the French Navy being particularly helpful. The French under Louis XVI bankrupted their nation to free the Colonists from British bondage. And incidently, Napoleon's 'right arm' Berthier got experience of warfare fighting in America.

Napoleon wanted to recreate France as a great nation. His Code Napoleon; his forming of the Bank of France; his Civil Code; his Concordat with the papacy; and his reorganization of the French school sytem were laudable achievements which benefited all of France. What did the aristocratic elite in London ever do for the common British man or woman? If the common man dared to ask for more bread, or for increased wages, or if they dared to question the God-Almighty Government,  they risked a hanging or being transported to Australia for life. So cruel was this British 'system' that a Unitarian minister was exiled to Australia just for proof reading a protest banner!

 But that isn't on the BBC website either... 

Today's Times newspaper has a leader that oozes this unctious sense of pride and self-importance.  It is an Orwellian: 'British good - Napoleon bad.' And the irony is that it was the poor Englishman who was labouring under the cosh of Big Brother Aristocrats and the 'Prinny' police state.

...  No, it's not even worth looking...

 The blessed BBC would have us believe that Napoleon was red in tooth and claw and that he was a Corsican bandit who certainly wouldn't be allowed at those high class royal parties. They state that he had 'his military dictatorship since 1804.' What they don't say is that there were so many assassination attempts upon his life, organised by the hideous Comte D'Artois (Mon-sewer) and paid for by the British, that he felt constrianed to make himself Emperor and see to his succession for the benefit of France. As Cadoudal said, after his failed plot on Napoleon's life - they had tried to kill a First Consul and had made an Emperor instead. So merciful was Napoleon, that he even invited Cadoudal to join his army as an officer. Similarly, Napoleon allowed the exiled French nobles to return to France.

The BBC website states that: 'The British defeated him at Trafalgar.' Napoleon wasn't at the Battle of Trafalgar - does the BBC realize this was a sea battle? In fact, Napoleon had given up on his cowardly naval commander Villeneuve and ordered him to sail to Naples. Only when he heard he had been sacked by Napoleon did he take the combined fleet out to sea. And despite all the British mythology about the 'Nelson touch' - Villeneuve predicted that Nelson would try to split the French and Spanish navies in the exact way he did.

The British Navy bombarded neutral Copenhagen in 1807 and murdered 2,000 innocent Danish men, women and children.  This was the first time that weapons of mass destruction - aka Congreve rockets - were used on a civilian population. I wasn't taught this at grammar school either. Neither was I taught that the British invented concentration camps during the Boer War and had a great victory starving Boer women and children to death. Even Kaiser Wilhelm complained about this despicable way of making war. But where British history is concerned so often it is a case of: Might equals Right. The British ruled the waves and waived the rules. Time after time. We have our heroes - like Churchill's favourite Alfred the Great. We don't need to look for them in the dregs of aristocratic society in London at the time of Prinny and his gang.

 The British reneged on the Treaty of Amiens by refusing to leave Malta. They then confiscated all French vessels without a declaration of war. This is commonly known as 'British fair play.' They then paid Austria and Russia to attack France - their own people safe across the Channel and behind that wooden fortress the British Navy.  Pitt died after he heard the news of Austerlitz - it was the best thing he ever did. He had been trying to drink himself to death for years, as well as taxing the native population to within an inch of their lives. Pitt's epitaph? Any port in a storm... and lots of it.

 What a bounder that chap Napoleon was - he kept defeating those Coalitions that attacked him! He was, in fact, far too trusting - whether it concerned his notorious brothers and sisters - or his dubious friends and allies like the starry-eyed mystic patricidal incestous Tsar Alexander of Russia. 'If I was a woman, I'd be his mistress,' Napoleon joked, taken in by the naive Russian blond bombshell. In the end (where else...) he was well and truly screwed by Alexander. Russia was a primitive country reliant on Gogol's Dead Souls  - the poor peasants. Peasant soldiers never expected to see their families again. Prussia also had serfs. That wicked Napoleon abolished serfdom in all the territories he controlled. Wasn't that just too much!

 Ah the BBC... Like all licence payers, I have to pay £145-50 a year to receive their pearls of wisdom. Why do they have to lie and deceive and misinform - with my money?!

Napoleon was the greatest man of the C19th as Goethe said. He deserves to be Heine's hero. He was Hazlitt's hero too - and Byron's. He touched the hearts and souls of millions and benefitted common humanity with his enlightened rule and policies. After Waterloo came the Reaction when the Undead Aristocrats from all across Europe rose again like an army of rapacious zombies - feeding off the corpses of the common man. Come back Napoleon - all is forgiven!

C.  JohnTarttelin 2015
A Souladream Production