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He watches from his mountain walls

When we have visitors or, as often, without and just because I can, I  go and have a little tête-à-tête with Napoléon.  He sits on his mount, ‘Marengo’ surveying Lac Laffrey about half an hour out of the city.  The statue of him was originally installed in Grenoble in 1868 and was moved to it’s present site where he can look out over the water and the mountains in 1929.

On a recent visit one of my daughters asked me why people  still think Napoléon was a  such a great man.  Of course that is a major simplification and I don’t intend to go into a detailed account of all the pros and cons of his undoubtedly iconic era but it would be wrong not to note that it includes the institution of the Napoléonic Code (or French Civil Code) parts of which are still in use around the world today.  It forbad privilege based on birth, allowed freedom of religion and stated that government jobs must be given to the most qualified all of which might sound pretty musical to modern ears, I would contend.  These facts might be received with some surprise by those brought up with the British version of history which tends to tell of his war-mongering and unabandoned desire to dominate the planet.  The joy of Nelson’s triumph over him at Trafalgar ranks high as does his catastrophic mistake in trying to conquer Russia in winter.  And of course Waterloo where he might have quoted the equally iconic Benny and Bjorn of Abba, in admitting that he was ‘finally meeting my Waterloo’.

So I told her the story of what happened at Laffrey in 1815.  After the messy mistakes of 1814 when his armies had been frozen and starved into submission in Russia and simultaneously the British had made rather more headway than was cozy on French soil, he surrendered.  The allies had him sent to the Island of Elba in exile.  It’s not far from France – in fact rather appropriately it lies between Corsica, where he was born, and Italy from whence his parents both haled.  Unfortunately for the European allies who were collectively breathing a sigh of relief, patting themselves on the back for a job well done and adjourning to a jolly fine restaurant to celebrate their undoubted brilliance,  this was not a man who was going to wear a stripey prison suit and stare wistfully at the nearby mainland coast dreaming of prior greatness.  Not a bit of it.  Even before he was dispatched he had negotiated what might seem rather decent terms.  He was allowed to keep his trusty and, by all accounts magnificent, Marengo, he dressed everyday in his customary cashmere culottes fresh pairs of which were shipped in weekly, his fine military jacket and crucially his trademark hat which he always wore in a jaunty horizontal,  jutting out right and left far beyond each ear rather than the traditional North-South in order that he could be picked out instantly by his troops.  He strutted around content that he was simply taking a little rest, a retreat if you will, and he plotted.

In March 1815, just a year after his surrender, he made his move.  Abetted by his so called guards, he sailed back to France (complete with horse) landing in Golfe-Juan on the Côte d’Azur his plan to march with his 900 fusiliers back to Paris.  Waiting for his arrival were plenteous  faithful on standby for the word that it was game on.  Avoiding Marseilles where the ‘desiré’, King Louis XVIII, had a copious barracks full of his own soldiers, he landed and processed through Grasses, Digne les Bains and Sisteron en route through the high French Alps.  This passage forever after and to this day known as la Route Napoléon is, to be frank,  not the easiest of drives in a modern car  and I can barely imagine what it must have been like on horse-back and foot over 200 years ago in March which is frequently still wintry and bitter in the mountains.  Admittedly it was probably a wise move not to insist on elephants as Hannibal had in 218 BC, but I equally don’t doubt that there was a nod to that feat, our Bonaparte being well disposed to all things Roman, even their defeat at the hands of a mighty strategist in them there hills. As he proudly progressed, more and more soldiers joined his ranks and by the time he reached Laffrey he had a very decent batallion with him.  But here stood a problem for here stood the Kings men, guns pointed and cocked, swords ready to swash out of their well-oiled buckles and swipe lethally at the merest deft twitch of a hand all under orders from their Monarch to stop him.  And stop he did.  Slowly, Napoléon dismounted his horse and stood, cashmere culottes giving him the comfortable and familiar feeling of Emporordom, west to east hat reminding all fore and aft that they were facing or following Napoléon himself and uttered calmly:    ‘Soldats ! je suis votre Empereur. Ne me reconnaissez-vous pas?’ – ‘soldiers, I am your Emperor, do you not recognise me?’.  Then he took several steps forward, stuck out his admittedly rather fine example of a barrel chest and declared ‘S’il en est un parmi vous qui veuille tuer son général, me voilà !’ – ‘if any of you want to kill your General, here I am!’  There followed the tiniest nano-nod to the briefest micro-pause and then a riotous and tumultuous cheer.  The entire troop, all the kings men themselves, fell in behind him to march decisively onwards and later that day he descended triumphant into Grenoble.

Now what stands out to me about this story is the sheer force of personality, the charisma and the brazen confidence that he was indeed the leader and that no-one would dare to stop him.  We are, of course led to believe that he was a tiny man though I understand that this was British propaganda and that he was actually of average height for the day, but nonetheless and whatever his stature, really that is quite a stunt and I adore the story.

The picture is taken from le Vercors looking over to the slopes of le Grande Serre and specifically Taillefer.  Look closely and you can see that the forest on the slope is in the shape of an eagle.  Some say it is a natural phenomenon but it seems to me quite a strange coincidence that the trees should have naturally taken the form of Napoléon’s preferred emblem by happenchance.  I was told that he ordered a forest be planted in the shape of two eagles and if you look to the right of the intact one you can make out the wings of a second which has seemingly and rather unfortunately lost it’s head in all the unfettered excitement.  Perhaps he didn’t have the time to issue such grandiose orders, after all he only relit his fire for a further hundred days before  succumbing to Wellington at Waterloo and being summarily dismissed to live on Saint Helena, remote in the South Atlantic where he died supposedly of stomach cancer. In fact many believe he actually died of arsenic poisoning.  I tend to believe the latter theory – after all, who was going to risk this hypnotically powerful man casting his charming spell on a fresh batch of conspiritors and causing a mighty headache to Europe all over again?  If that is my given, then I prefer to believe that the people themselves either planted or felled trees to create the eagles that would forever remind those casting their eyes towards Laffrey that it’s place in history was earned at the hands of this mesmerizing and magnetic man.

History, you see, is not entirely finite, it lies in the hands of the storyteller.  Is it myth, legend, a story so old that no-one can remember what is true any more?  Probably.  And I rather like my version.  It sits kindly and if you would kindly remember, out of all things can come good if we let it.  No one wants another Napoléon hawking his desire for conquest across a continent, but in the end it must be reconciled that he left a legacy that benefitted not just his own kinspeople but those that live, for example in Western Europe  – even if he would have preferred the whole of Europe to be called la France ….

And what has promted this little detour into French history as retold by me?  The weekly photo challenge is titled ‘Story’ and since recanting stories is what I do, I thought I would go for a big one and leave you to spot the eagle(s).  You can find a glittering gallery of entries to the field, here.

Disclaimer:  No-one has been harmed in my retelling of this tale so whilst begging your pardon for my poetic licence I beg you not to throw rocks at me for any sins of omission or erroneous embellishment

DSCF1154

PS:  My title is taken from Tennyson’s powerfully simple poem ‘The Eagle’:

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
The Eagle
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

And your bonus …. The Eagles – well I would, wouldn’t I?  Desperado seems to fit the mood of those last hundred days and the film has horses and guns and you can by all means make the rest of the story up for yourselves … personally, I find it a lovely diversion.

167 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love all of this post, even the Eagles 🙂 My grandma was an admirer of Napoleon. She couldn’t abide wimpy men. You’re right, there is no black or white about Napoleon, and he isn’t one of my bêtes noires. I certainly objected strongly to Sarkozy usurping the title. No way, sunshine.

    Liked by 5 people

    March 8, 2018
    • I’m glad you enjoyed it …. I threw in The Eagles on a whim and wondered if people might be bewildered! Napoleon is marmite – I like marmite. As to Sarkozy – I honestly wish someone would now just put him in a pea green boat and sale him away for a year and a day …

      Like

      March 9, 2018
      • Only a year and a day? Until the comeback? I like the Eagles. They’re like Abba, formulaic but completely unpretentious. Marmite is something I have never tasted. But I don’t think my grandma had either 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • No he can sail for a year and a day and stay away! My mother in law and my mother shared two things – they both went to the same finishing school and they both pronounced Marmite in the French way (Marmeet) which I rather like. I just altered the post and included a nod to Abba, curiously … we must be etherously aligned today!

        Like

        March 9, 2018
      • We share the same world view 🙂 Marmeet sounds so much less like an unpleasant disease.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • Agreed on both counts 🙂

        Like

        March 9, 2018
      • 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
  2. There is one thing well unknown though my favorite from Bonaparte . As a young general he led a curious expedition in Egypt, a military one, but he brought several scientists and painters with the army . He had a fascination for ancient Egypt – when they were in front of the pyramids he made a famous speech to his mostly illiterate soldiers ” Soldiers, from the top of these pyramids, 40 centuries are watching you …”
    The huge big thing is that during this expedition one French soldier found the Rosetta stone, and this stone was THE key that at last after 2000 years made possible to understand the hieroglyphs (a thing achieved 23 years later by another fascinating bloke, François Champollion) . Bonaparte felt fascinated by old Egypt, so much that he had the incredible idea to lead a military campaign with scientists and artists, and guess what : this gave humanity the unique chance to decipher the antique hierogyphs that no one ever could understand since antiquity .That’s what impresses me the most in Bonaparte .

    Liked by 3 people

    March 8, 2018
    • Phil, thank you so much for sharing this story. Not only is it a wonderful story but it illustrates perfectly why it is dangerous to blindly damn a person but rather it is necessary to look deeply at their holistic impact. Without his fascination with ancient Egypt and his idea to lead a campaign that included scientists and painters in his army I wonder if those secrets would ever have been unlocked? As an aside, my father was born to British parents in Egypt where he lived his early years. One day I might tell the story of why that happened but in the meantime I simply acknowledge that I have a very personal reason for being delighted with this knowledge you have given me. Champollion had great ties to Grenoble, also – the Lycée is called Champollion in his honour. I have read a great deal about him since being here and I am delighted you refer to him as a ‘fascinating bloke’ …. he really was. Finally I want to thank you for that quote – Bonaparte really did have a true feel for history and time, I think.

      Liked by 2 people

      March 9, 2018
      • Yes this Champollion … I became fascinated by him when I read about is life . Imagine when he was a kid, like 12 Y/o, he was introduced in a reception by his father to somebody important (I forgot who) and this person asked him what he wanted to do later in his life . He answered “I want to decipher the hieroglyphs” . Isn’t this incredible ?

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • Absolutely incredible …. there are few young people who have any clues what they want to do in adulthood but to be so finite is amazing. And just as amazing is that he did it!

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
  3. A great story!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 8, 2018
  4. I have heard variants on these stories, but tend to be anti-Napoleon, simple because of the thousands and ten of thousands of people killed trying to stop him, and the areas laid waste. I read a bucket of Regency romances and occasional history, and there is always mention of the war causing terrible suffering for many, even throughout Iberia etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 8, 2018
    • I’m a pacifist so I am bound to agree with you, however I am also one who believes that however tarnished the exterior if you are prepared to take the blinkers off, there will be a silver lining. The real sadness is that no-one learned from the carnage and that the wars continued between every combination imaginable of the so called allies against France throughout the 19th Century expanded and not just in Europe culminating in the 20th Century in two world wars and still they didn’t learn. As I type we still have the same issues causing the same devastation in a variety of places on this globe and we still have leaders who are very capable of turning into despots and war-mongering for their own ends. We never seem to learn and you will find that most of my writing is pointed at that pointless lack of progress we have made in search of the real answers to our self-destructive nature.

      Liked by 4 people

      March 9, 2018
      • yes, it is hard that we seem not to learn, and then we are old enough that we do learn, it is sooner than later to pass on and the world gets filled up with often-foolish young people again who have the energy to make pointless war. Best wishes to all.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
  5. Whether you love him, or hate him, (and I don’t think there is any in between) I love the story as told.

    Liked by 2 people

    March 8, 2018
    • Marmite man, certainly but I am glad you like the story as told – those culottes never fail to make me snigger …..

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2018
  6. I find Napoleon fascinating and your story even more so. He’s so often portrayed as a proud and arrogant megalomaniac (gosh, who does that sound like?). Then he goes and says something like “I would kiss a man’s ass if I needed him” and you know he’s not so proud as to put himself before his purpose.
    Besides, he’s cuter than that Wellington chap.

    Liked by 3 people

    March 8, 2018
    • We share that fascination. And yes, he was better looking than bony (stet irony) old Wellington 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2018
  7. Thanks for the history lesson, poetic license and all.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 8, 2018
    • I’m a storyteller … poetic licence is a given 😉

      Like

      March 9, 2018
  8. Tennyson ( I hold a precious illustrated copy of Moxon’s Tennyson, and the Eagles. What a combo!

    My grandson’s name is Nelson. Long story.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 8, 2018
    • I will demand to see that book one of these days – just to hold it, you understand. I had my most freeformed head on last night and couldn’t resist slinging in Desperado at the end. You can tell me why Nelson when we meet but you might be interested that my Grandmother owned two of the pikes from Victory …. when she died we gave them back and they are installed on the ship with an acknowledgement to her. How on earth she came on them no-one knows and I doubt she would ever have let on!

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2018
      • My son in law will be very interested in your Grandmother’s pikes! He is , as I think I have said, somewhat of an expert in British military history and has a number of favourite historical figures , for different reasons. My grandson could have been named after any of them.
        The previous owners of our village cafe used to salute him when he entered and call him their little captain, all in good humour.
        He is fully aware, of course, that he is actually an admiral.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • I’m very glad your grandson appreciates his true rank. Yes, I do recall your son-in-law’s expertise – a fascinating area without doubt. My own feeble knowledge is mostly limited to the 18th and 19th centuries and even then I would struggle to name a favourite.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
  9. Wow Osyth. What a wonderful, well-written and interesting post about Napoleon B. Thete were so many things wtitten in your post about him that I never knew. Thanks so much about writing and sharing this story with us.

    As a side note….in my younger years I was kind of a little Napoleon. I was know to be a work horse and always looked for ways to conquer and to aquire all that I could for my organization (primarily more funds) from higher so I could build, expand. modernize and make my organization stronger and to stand out above the others. I woild not take no for an answer! In fact, when getting military orders to transfer to my next job, some of my staff, cut out and enlarged a picture of my head and replaced Napleon B’s head for mine in a picture they found of him as he stood so proudly in his uniform and familiar stance. I wish I had thart picture here with me because it’s hilarous and you would enjoy it. GARY

    Liked by 1 person

    March 8, 2018
    • Gary, thank you so much for your kind comment and I am glad to have brought a little more about your alter ego to the party for you! I am literally laughing out loud at the story of the picture with Napoleon superimposed on you but I cannot argue that your quest for improving and strengthening your organization was wrong …. it takes strength and determination to improve things and it takes a disregard for what others think. It is often much later that people quietly say thank you but even if they don’t say it aloud they think it. You and I think the same, sir and one day I might be brave enough to write about my own slightly despotic tendencies in the workplace 😉

      Like

      March 9, 2018
  10. This is an interesting write! I think people either love or hate Napoleon. He was a doer, that’s for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 8, 2018
    • I think the fact is that either blindly loving or blindly hating is ever foolish …. in my experience there is usually a silver lining and there is often a tarnished exterior to all things! Thank you so much for commenting – it really is lovely to see you 🙂

      Like

      March 9, 2018
  11. Bonsoir Ma biche, so lovely to hear from you. As for the content, I must confess that personally this is a quite wonderful piece simply because until this evening I had literally never given NB’s successes or failures a second thought past my third year of secondary school history and all the revolution teaching that came with it.
    This has to be simply because of the way things were taught, how the past was massaged to make our British heroes look stronger than their French counterparts even if they were essentially the opposite to what the outcome of 1789 had brought.
    Let’s face it, if M Guillotine had been brought to these shores, she would have been kept busy for many many years and that is solely because anyone of any command or influence was also gifted an element of status and that was something they clung too simply because the rest of the country was so used to differing to anything even slightly above them. Fops and wastrels the lot of them.
    You are quite right though, when put like this, Napoleon did stand for something greater than himself.
    He did stand for a new world in which people whether they be from the lowest of the low or upward should be entitled to have a champion who took to his heart the struggles of the downtrodden from the previous century where his fellow man were told to eat cake (not sure if that is any longer true….) and felt the need to rise up and take back their lives.
    I suppose we are most definitely guilty of suppression given we have a monarchy whom until only 50 years ago were revered by all whether through belief or bias coverage.
    Now I have no truck with our Monarchy but then I live in modern times so have no real need to as I am my own man but the thought of tugging my forelock to a supposed superior would most definitely make my blood boil so if I were offered a figurehead who championed the same thoughts as myself, then I would surely be happy to have him as my Emperor.
    A bit late now but I am maybe coming around to be a little more in awe of little Napoleon…. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    March 9, 2018
    • What a wonderful comment and full of truth, Cameron. I do find the whole retelling of history by the teller fascinating. Of course, here in France it is equally skewed and massaged and I have a further story for another day when the muse decides the time is right to illustrate that fact. All that said, I do think that the British are particularly adept at squeezing the notion that we are the biggest, bulldoggest most heroic of all to the max. The French Revolution brought a mess behind it and the indecision and chopping and changing of regimes was not comfortable and indeed sparked a second revolution in the 1870s but I do believe that it bore some good and the Napoleonic Code does have some good bits that we have adopted today. Another reader has pointed to the less good bits which is reasonable but one should not shirk the fact that even though NB was a despotic little maniac he really and truly did bring some good notions to the table and those notions have stuck. I for one would far rather that than the alternative!

      Liked by 2 people

      March 9, 2018
      • Yes, I do concede the despot element, I think my Gallic rose tinted glasses must have been on full strength so maybe the cold light of day and further evidence from my pal has made me tone down some of my praise for the little fella!
        Still I agree with the historic need for change to bring about common decency so lets start turning the world on its axis and welcome the revolution…. (see what I did there…. 😉 )

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • I was relieved that at least one anglophone was wise enough to not entirely condemn him. I thought your comment was one of the most balanced and educated I have received and I see entirely what you did there …. keep on trucking my friend 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • Hem, pardon me but there were many more revolutions in France after the great first one . In 1830, in 1848 and in 1871, the world first revolution from and for the low classes, the Paris Commune . Interesting to note that the events appearing in Les Misérables were not a revolution but a 2 days aborted attempt in 1832 . Then in 1936 to prevent another revolution the fake Comunist and Socialist parties took power and allowed some rights to the worling class . The same thing occurred in 1945 when to prevent another revolution the capital granted many advantages to the workers, advantages more or less still alive today .

        Liked by 1 person

        March 10, 2018
      • Fair comments and forgive my inaccuracies …. I knew I might be opening a hornets best with this and it saddens me. I am neither qualified nor equipped to lecture on French history and feel I have spend the last 24 hours defending Napoleon from rancid comments which are unfounded unpleasant and unnecessary. I think I will now retire under a stone and call it a day.

        Liked by 2 people

        March 10, 2018
  12. A well-told story–thank you.

    My youth involved a certain amount of time in the company of bikers, and even then I found it hilarious when they would get all maudlin and weepy when “Desperado” came on. Not that one would dare to laugh about it, or not in front of them, at any rate.

    Liked by 2 people

    March 9, 2018
    • Haha! Yup – my first boyfriend was a Vicar’s son who predictably rebelled and became a hairy biker … he used to go dewy eyed whenever the song played but would always claim it was a smote in his eye! Glad you enjoyed the story – he’s fair game for a storyteller, I think 🙂

      Like

      March 9, 2018
  13. Wonderful story. We visited Le Café Procope in Paris, which claims that a young Napolean left his hat as payment. He promised to return with cash and reclaim the hat. They still have the hat, now displayed in a glass case.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2018
    • I’ve been there too!! I was taken when I was sent to live with a Parisien family for the summer when I was 17 (read, I was a damn nuisance and mother wanted me out of her hair!!) …. he was quite a fellow, lets face it mostly not in a good way but fascinating just the same … so glad you enjoyed the story – I’ve been wanting to tell it and just needed the opportunity 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2018
  14. Beautifully written, as always, Fiona, and such an interesting story. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2018
    • Thank you Jodi …. I find Napoleon fascinating – not necessarily in a good way but certainly he created waves in his time!!!

      Like

      March 9, 2018
  15. You are a born storyteller. Who else could bring the great man to life in his cashmere culottes? Can’t see the eagles in the forest but your wonderful tale inspires me to go and check out the view!

    Liked by 4 people

    March 9, 2018
    • Too kind as ever. The eagle is landed if you look almost dead centre … the snow covered mountain in the background just above the ridge of the one in the foreground …. or else google far better examples. It’s one of those things – once you have seen it you see it from everywhere but the Vercors grant the best views 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2018
  16. Not too keen on the general effects of the Napoleonic codes myself…… nor on the limitation of female rights thereunder.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2018
    • My point is really that it is wrong to damn all that an episode in history produces. For example, were it not for the Nazis we would not have put men on the moon …. I damn the Nazis and all they stood for, of course I do, but it would be foolish to argue that no that good came out of their despicable thirst for domination. The same goes, I think for every empire and will continue to be so.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2018
      • Helen Devries #

        Yes, I took your point but am still not entranced by Napoleon the ruler as opposed to Napoleon the general.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • I can concur in no small part with that 🙂

        Like

        March 9, 2018
    • I agree they are outdated and inhibiting now, and I have personally fallen foul of them, but that is the fault of successive French governments not to move with the times. When they were established, they did indeed give greater power and protection to woman than they had in many other European countries at the time. So Boney was a bit of a mover and shaker.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2018
      • Agreed agreed!!

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • Check inheritance rights under the Ancien Regime.
        Check the effects of the Concordat.
        Would expand further if not trying to type on a tablet.

        Sent from a t

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • I didn’t intend to open up a detailed discussion of Napoleonic laws here merely to highlight in a fairly light hearted way one so how story of the place i live. I’m well versed in inheritance laws here and in Britain but old and new but as with politics I don’t honestly think my views are of any interest to readers. Suffice to say that 200 years ago women’s rights were pretty tenuous the world over 🤤

        Liked by 2 people

        March 10, 2018
  17. I like your version, too

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2018
  18. Flawless piece of writing – who cares how much poetic licence you took.
    Stunning piece of photography also – I am infinitely jealous of your talents.
    I am once again going ‘off piste’ until next week. But so glad I was able to read this.
    Much love
    Lindy

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2018
    • I’m off to Bavaria until late next week … watch out for musings from a Schloss 😂 It’s always lovely to see you, I certainly owe you an email and I do hope all is going well chez les libellules. BTW I don’t think I am anywhere near flawless but hope not to be TOO flawed!! Xx

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2018
  19. Kate had a weekend in Bavaria a month or so ago – it just looks amazing.
    I am going back to Germany next month, but not to such a scenic area.
    Les Libs going tres tres lentement…..but we have a bed!!!!! Actually some of the walls separating the chambers ion the blow up mattress gave up the ghost and it was like sleeping in a rubber ski jump as one end went up in the air…xx

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2018
    • I detest inflatable mattresses …. very pleased that you have a proper bed now. These projects are like pushing water up a slope for a long time but suddenly it will all gain traction and you will be coasting at speed to the finish line. Never been to Bavaria before but I’m looking forward to it despite the fact that I will be the token person with only one brain!!! 🧠 😱

      Like

      March 9, 2018
      • You have touched a nerve. We had an indoor flood last month, but as we had three floods from the outside the month before, Mc banked up the steps on the doors to stop the water coming in…….which also stopped it going out! The only things that we had to scoop up about 4cm in the bathroom and adjoining boiler room and 2cm in the ‘garden room’ (read dump) was two little hand held dust pans, one of which had a rubber lip that made it only possible to scoop up around 30 mls at a time – four hours later, we were at mopping stage, but cannot for the life of me find a mop bucket with a wringer here, to was having to wring the mop out with our hands.
        Still boarding the loft – it is taking eternity, as we only have a small trailer, so keep running out of boards (can’t have a load delivered as there is no where to store too many (as we have loads of things waiting to go into the loft when it is finished – Catch 22 spring to mind?) And it is a three hour round trip, by the time we have driven to Dijon, loaded up and back again.
        You have got a better brain than most missus.
        I’m off now to go ‘indoor camping’ as my friend who stayed last weekend put it xx

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • I do understand, I really do. I drive 6 1/2 hours to Marcoles which has no heating and continues to look like a bomb site . But these house will be beautiful and the horrors will become hilarious stories to recant down the years. In the meantime perseverance true grit and a Teflon coat are requirements 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        March 13, 2018
      • Hi mon amie, I hope the trip to Bavaria was good.I am off the the camp again for a week in the rain – really am fed up with this persistent weather. Managed to get a lovely sunny day by the Seine in last Saturday, then back to the brolly.
        Bonnes Paques xx

        Liked by 1 person

        March 28, 2018
      • It was marvelous until our bag was stolen from the Navette 🚐 …. lost my favourite boots and another pair that I have hardly worn, both our MacBook Pros, keys to the appart here and the house in Massachusetts etc etc etc – in total around $5,000 and only insured for less than a fifth of it on our house insurance. Gutting. But Bavaria was magical. So we have that and no bugger can take it away! Enjoy the camp – I do wish this rain would abate … it’s been incessant this year. Mind you, I drove to and from Cantal (with a detour down to the Aude to see a friend) this weekend and the way back was in and out of blizzards to ring the changes with the rain! Bonnes Pâques à toi and I will have more news very soon xx

        Like

        March 28, 2018
      • Oh no, that is awful, but glad Bavaria lived up to its expectations – we are just back from the camp – Easter was great down there. I am off to Germany at the end of the week. Back at Paris Tuesday till Friday, then off to the camp for 16 days (during which we will celebrate our wedding anniversary)
        Much love xx

        Liked by 1 person

        April 16, 2018
      • News follows in the next few days. Rather big news actually xx

        Liked by 1 person

        May 4, 2018
      • I am back at JLP after being without net for two weeks. Rather excited to hear your news ma soeur……..
        I have just posted a pathetic little post to keep my hand in – but the recipe is fab.
        I am back to Le Maupas Saturday til Monday
        Don’t keep me hanging on, the suspense is killing me xx

        Like

        May 15, 2018
      • I shall read your post today and I know I will enjoy it! I hope things are progressing well with the house. It is like pushing water up a hill for a long long time, I know but it will be SO worth it when you are able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labours (and that turret!).

        I arrived back in the US late April. I will be here for the long-haul this time and have a Green Card so I can work (or rather that should arrive sometime in the next month according to US protocol). This means that finally we are together properly without being reliant on tourist visas and the rules that govern them. Let me tell you – it is HEAVEN after all this time (we celebrate 5 years married in June). We still have the house in Cantal and will decide finitely where we will live (France or the US) once we have sold this house. The house in Cantal, incidentally will only ever be a maison secondaire, we will buy something else willy nilly. I am currently busy with the yard (2 acres of it) and finishing the outside of the house and will be indoors making it house-beautiful from Fall to Spring. 3 new bathrooms and a new kitchen as well as all the usual decorating and froofing that go with doing a house. Fortunately this was my business for several years in Britain so I am not phased by it and not shy of doing the work myself. It will be a great adventure and the sense of satisfaction that I have made a house that was wholly and horribly neglected by HB2’s Wife Mark 1 will be immense. I hope she chokes when she sucks up the pictures that doubtless family members will share with her when I do the big reveal. xx

        Like

        May 15, 2018
      • Oh my this is BIG news. So you are no longer in Frogland…..
        The house is coming along slowly – we don’t care how long it takes, we are enjoying living there even as it is and have just spent a wonderful two weeks.
        I have some minor news. I am now writing bits for French property News (First article was published in May edition, second due for August and third for September. They have asked me to write some a couple of pieces for their language special out in November…..I am also writing a book based on life at Les Libellules, but it is not so much a record of renovation, more about nature and the changing of the seasons and the changes in us are also very apparent. There are some funny stories obviously and some recipes using produce donated by the local community and home grown herbs etc (no working garden as yet)
        This is why the blog has been so neglected between this and still teaching in Paris (though much less)
        Are you in the same part of US as before?
        I’ll have to come and visit you there sometime xxx

        Like

        May 15, 2018
      • I will never leave France entirely. We retain our house in Cantal and intend to move back permanently when HB2 retires. The decisions will wait until this place is sorted and sold and we see how the wind blows in this old world of ours. Either way we will retain places either side of the pond for a variety of reasons. And either way I am not looking too far ahead because, in my experience, that is a recette for missing out on what you have by thinking of all you think you want! Congratulations on the journalism and the book. Are you self–publishing the book … if so I have an excellent printer whom I would highly recommend. In France. Feel free to travel to Boston – it’s beautiful and though I live about 25 miles west it is very easy for me to get to 🙂 xx

        Like

        May 15, 2018
  20. A very interesting post. History will always be retold in different forms depending where you reside. I am though a pacifist and wish there was an end to so much needless suffering of innocents…

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2018
    • I, too, am a pacifist as I think is extremely evident in most of my writing but occasionally it is right to look at things from a different vantage point and see where the lessons are, see where the good is …. I also think it is important to be open to the different telling of history and not imagine that the way you are taught is finite. For me the most important thing is to understand why things happen at particular times and to compare where we are now with that climate. Much, for example is made of particular world leaders now. Surely the most important question is how they came to power, what the mood of the people is and what it is they are looking for. When those questions are answered honestly, then we can work towards ensuring that we don’t repeat the catastrophes of the past 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2018
  21. I always thought Napoleon was quite short as well!!
    There you go…. thank you for sharing this part of history through your story. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2018
    • So did I until my youngest daughter put me straight when I took her to meet the little French General at Laffrey 😉 …. I tell things in my own words but all the facts are researched both in English books and French – hopefully that leads to a reasonably balanced account. Or at least entertaining!!

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2018
      • It is not deliberate partiality . By this time, the English foot was shorter than the French foot . When authors wrote about Napoleon’s size they gave the right number of feet . But the British understood English feet . Actually his size was 1,68 which, for the time, was average .
        This detail is only a detail, but from what i read coming from the Anglo bubble I see, with surprise, that the English high classes propaganda and lies were never corrected for Anglophone collective consciousnesses in more important questions regarding Napoleon ( the Monster !) and, more annoyingly, about the first French revolution that is reduced in Anglo mythology to the short phase of the Terror .

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • Phil, I am on your side! I expected to take some criticism (mostly unfounded and uneducated) about this article simply because I have not written it from the stereotypical Anglo-angle. I refuse to do that. Napoleon was a man of average height, my youngest daughter informed me of this when I took her to visit the statue at Laffrey. It was British propaganda that propagated the myth that he was short. Wellington was not very tall and Nelson was very short! And in any event what on earth did it matter … well it mattered at the time because the British were scared and wanted to reassure the people so they created a myth. The reason they were scared is exactly because Napoleon was so powerful a character. And therein lies the tale. And he did good. Much good. Some of what he did was perhaps misguided but actually if you read about Winston Churchill before he stepped into the limelight in WW2 he did some appalling things. The secret surely is to be open to reading much. And I have tried to read accounts from both sides but mostly referenced the information that is available at Laffrey. I will go and visit Napoleon tomorrow …. I like to see him and I am supposedly an English woman though like our friend Zipf I feel increasingly French and that is why I call this place home 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • Very entertaining Osyth ❤️
        Have a lovely weekend 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
  22. This was very interesting to read, especially having visited his tomb when in Paris. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2018
    • Yes, I visited les Invalides for the first time at 17. I found it quite overwhelming but it came at a time when I was studying Napoleon and so it lit a flame of fascination. I am glad to have lived here in the footsteps of that final march and to have been sparked to find out more. I am glad you found the post interesting and I love your blog title … based on the fact that it is four of my favourite things, I will be visiting very soon!

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2018
      • Thanks! 🙂 It’s all the things I love on my walks at the beach, in the country, and hiking in the mountains.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 11, 2018
  23. Having been brought up on the British view of Napoléon it’s interesting to see another side to his story. As you say in the piece, history is told through the eyes of the historian recording it, and Bony was at the time the latest of a long line of wannabe dictators going back centuries. And as we never learn the lessons of history, that continues to this day. What I think is indisputable that he was the largest figure of his lifetime – not in physical stature, though – and the fact that he is still talked about is testament to his importance. A very interesting piece, and it was good to see you adding in the conspiracy theory about his death too – I’ve always been dubious about that, as they could have just finished him off quickly without all that effort. Kudos for bringing in Tennyson (your English roots showing there!) and the Eagles: my only complaint with anything here is with the commenter who called them formulaic. They were, after all, one of the bands who created that particular formula! Great post xx

    Liked by 2 people

    March 9, 2018
    • Lets cover off The Eagles first …. they are one of my enduring favourite bands – just perfect at what they did and yes, the first to do it and still in many ways the best. I never drive a long distance without The Eagles on my playlist and I just couldn’t resist including a track once I had decided on the subject matter (which was originally le Taillefer Eagles). The conspiracy theory … my father worked at AEA when they brought samples of Napoleons hair taken from his corpse at les Invalides for testing using a process that involved nuclear something or others. It was indisputable that the levels of arsenic were extremely high. People try to fob that off as the face powder he used but that was a commonly used cosmetic and didn’t kill all its users. My father was very much of the opinion that he was bumped off. I think they could have just ‘done him in’ swiftly but perhaps were scared of repercussions …. I am pretty sure he still had allies with him on Saint Helena. All conjecture, I am no expert but it sort of makes sense to me. He was an extremely important figure and it would be nice to think that we learned some lessons from him … sadly I see us flailing around still and not looking back for answers leaving us more and more open to dangerous despots getting elected in powerful nations. And equally how ever much we might quite naturally want to stand by and simply condemn, we can’t deny that figures like Napoleon and even Hitler brought progress that would not have happened otherwise. In the case of the vile Austrian, men on the moon for example and advances in medicine. Very unsavory to have to acknowledge it but true nonetheless. I am so glad you enjoyed this – I knew I would get quite a deal of startled or negative responses but the point was to tell a good story and try to draw on both sides for my references which I did. And no Wikipedia 😉 xx

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2018
      • Interesting that your father had that insight, I don’t doubt the arsenic poisoning but still wonder why it took them so long. I guess they were hoping to keep it quiet – news didn’t travel quickly in those days and he didn’t have Twitter to tell his followers what those nasty Brits were doing to him! I take your point about the benefits that have derived from and the likes of Hitler, but it’s hard to disassociate them from the motivations behind them – with the benefit of historical hindsight. You certainly achieved your aim of telling a good story, and it would be an interesting follow up to compare the English and French versions of le Wikipéde, as I suspect they may not be direct translations! A bit like they probably are of the likes of Farage and BoJo today 😉 xx

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • How much better life was without the noise of twitter do we think? I only use Wiki for the very top line of research but I could certainly run a comparison and it would be interesting. It is, indeed difficult to dissociate from motivation but I also think it hypocritical to ignore the benefits we reap rather I prefer to keep my mind open to how the world I live in evolved and be mindful of the world we ourselves are producing and how. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
      • But how else could I tell POTUS45 what I think of him! I take your point – no doubt some of the benefits that future generations will enjoy will have derived from things which might seem shameful or distasteful now xx

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
  24. Why would you throw rocks at someone who puts Napoleon in cashmere culottes! Great retelling of the story. Isn’t history fascinating?

    Liked by 2 people

    March 9, 2018
    • History is my quiet and enduring love and I find that the wisest people are well engaged with history …. it is after all the place that our lessons are contained and our warnings set out like signposts. The cashmere culottes are not of my making … according to the information at Laffrey these are what he always wore and he negotiated them into his exile contract first time around …. it amused me highly!

      Liked by 2 people

      March 9, 2018
      • Ha! Didn’t know that about the culottes – thought it was part of your poetic license! Yes, history is the reason we travel. It if doesn’t have a long and rich history, we usually don’t elect to go there.

        Liked by 2 people

        March 9, 2018
  25. Love reading your stories, you pull me in and I stay there till the end, and I love reading it thrrough your mind…..the mountains are so grand and beautiful there…love this post….xxkat

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2018
    • Thank you dear Kat …. I probably have quite a strange mind on balance but I do love those mountains, as you know – it’s pretty hard to beat an Alp! Xx

      Like

      March 9, 2018
      • One day I will be able to say I saw the real Alps…..I have seen the little Alps in southeast Alaska, and Lizard Pass in Colorado has a wanna be Alp…LOL but you my friend have the real thing..

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2018
  26. What a terrific bit of history, and extremely well-written – thanks for sharing! Oh, I have posted about every single Eagles album, including “Desperado”, which was a massive flop at the time and is now rightly considered a classic! The Rock ‘n’ Roller as Outlaw! – https://johnrieber.com/2016/05/04/the-eagles-desperado-disaster-brilliant-music-shocking-album-snub-beautiful-tequila-sunrise/

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2018
    • This is exactly what I need to read this minute…. see you on the other side and thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      March 13, 2018
  27. I enjoyed reading a piece of French history told by you !! I especially like what you say about the forest in the shape of an eagle, I wonder why he did not ask for a monument like Mount Rushmore to be built to celebrate himself

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2018
  28. Who doesn’t love a fashionable conquistador astride his steed in cashmere breeches? I learned so much from your colourful portrayal of the normal sized general.History is most colourful and pleasant to read in your capable hands! And what? Your name is Fiona?

    Liked by 1 person

    March 10, 2018
    • Yes that us my name but I honestly prefer not to use it here. Osyth is my middle name and the one I prefer for blogging purposes (shady, shifty, shadowy individual that I am 🤣) …. I’m glad you enjoyed the romp which is honestly all its intended to be though all including the cashmere tights are well recorded facts 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      March 10, 2018
      • I’ve been many people on FB and Twitter so I’m very forgiving of the need to hide in plain sight in those weird parallel universes. I so often feel like a Martian here and there. Have you seen the American TV series “Stranger Things”? There’s an evil alternate reality that the children in the show call “the upside down”. That’s kind of how I feel about social media. Going there in disguise as a way to protect your soul seems like a reasonable thing to do.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 10, 2018
      • Agreed on every count …. I had a very high Twitter profile a few years ago when I was running my own business (my Tweets were far more successful than the business and my hashtag started to rule my life) …. it exhausted and quite literally drained me, so I stopped. I ought to Tweet again really but it quite literally scares me that I will get sucked in again. I haven’t seen either show. I feels as though I should ….

        Like

        March 11, 2018
  29. Well, what a brilliant post! Napoleon is someone I don’t know much about, but I prefer your version too 🙂 “cashmere culottes giving him the comfortable and familiar feeling of Emporordom” This made me smile – brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 11, 2018
    • Oh I am SO happy that you picked that line …. it was my favourite (though I wouldn’t want to offend the rest of my script 😀 ) xx

      Liked by 1 person

      March 12, 2018
      • It was the line that made me smile the most & I’m sure the rest of your script isn’t offended at all 😂xx

        Liked by 1 person

        March 12, 2018
  30. I absolutely love your story, and perhaps it just proves that if you believe you are the best, no one will argue! However, I have a fascination with Napoleon because we live so close to the Île d’Aix, an island we have visited several times and Napoleons last place on french soil before he was sent to St Helena, another place I would dearly love to visit. Still not getting your posts in my inbox, hence my delay in commenting, I have to find a way to sort this! xx

    Liked by 3 people

    March 12, 2018
    • Thank you …. I would love to visit Île d’Aix – it’s been on the list for far too long! Sorry you are still having to go the long way around to find my posts. I am overdue a note to WordPress vis a vis another blog I follow which is giving me headaches … I simply don’t understand the way it all works! xx

      Like

      March 12, 2018
  31. OK, clicked send too quickly, now I have ticked the box saying it should notify me of new posts by email, fingers crossed!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 12, 2018
    • Oh well done…. I’m always pleased to see you when you get a minute 🙂 xx

      Like

      March 12, 2018
  32. once again, I realize we have “stuff” in common, l’histoire de France, included… 🙂 ❤
    * * *
    have a fine Monday and an inspiring week, LLL = light lovely lady! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    March 12, 2018
    • Thank you …. I think to really benefit from the land you live in you must understand the story 😊

      Liked by 2 people

      March 12, 2018
  33. An era of history I wish I knew more about than the basics – I definitely need to see what the library may have for me on this front!

    Like

    March 12, 2018
  34. I like how you describe this Napoleon guy, he who created such havoc and yes did leave behind gems like the Napoléonic Code, which would certainly come in handy over here right about now. I enjoy your humor which I feel, as I read your story, is held with understanding and care for this man’s humanness.
    I can’t help but make associations with the present occupant of the White House who seems to me has what I believe is called a Napoleonic complex. I hadn’t thought of this until I read your piece. But then again he is demanding a full blown military parade like we have never seen before. I wonder what his Waterloo (if any) will look like, the one action that goes too far.
    As always thanks for the wonderful read.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 12, 2018
    • Whatever my feelings about Bonaparte, he was a human and I think it wise to not condemn entirely without trying to understand. He did do some good amongst the undoubted mayhem and devastation that he also created. The present incumbent of The White House will surely go too far … that sort of an ego is begging to be tripped over – and he will. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece … It is not intended to be a history lesson though the bones of it are all factual (including the Cashmere breeches) but I still hope that it casts a little light on a period that tends to be presented in a singular way when nothing, in my experience, is ever quite that simple 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      March 13, 2018
      • Please, don’t be so English bred … The mayhem and devastation, it is stunning to realize how English-bred folks ignore this, started when successively all European kingdoms attacked the new French republic . Since 1792, long before Napo took power, France had to fight alone against everybody around . Napoleonic wars were only the following episodes of the saga that never stopped between 1792 and 1815 .
        From many comments I see also that the Anglophone bubble has made its children believe Napoleon was a despot . This is an absolute English creation, a complete myth that can only survive because the Anglosphere is a bubble into which no news from the real world enters . . Napo kept and improved revolutionary structures, he never acted as a despot in his country – that’s why French people prefered him to the previous kings, France under him was far more liberal than neighbouring European kingdoms and empires . And Napo did not try to enslave the countries he conquered, on the contrary his men tried to launch revolutionary transformations there .
        For me, after the initial surprises, reading the Anglo web has been a mine of reflections about humanity and its beliefs .

        Liked by 1 person

        March 13, 2018
      • Phil, I hear you – my remark is simply a nod to the fact that there WAS bloodshed. Quite a lot of it. Please do not accuse me of being an Anglophone. I am very very capable of giving accounts of British history which would make British toes curl. I have tried hard not to get off the fence on this issue because it is pointless to go into enormous detail. People need to read their history books (and preferably not the propagandist tripe that is trotted out in non-French schools on the subject). History, as I remark in the piece I wrote is ultimately in the hands of those that retell it. I hope that I achieved a balanced piece that does not offend but it has been clear to me all week since I wrote it that there are many who do not want their eyes opened and it is not my job to condemn them or offend. Rest assured, please that I am not on the side of English propaganda. Not ever. But equally I do not think that my blog is a place for disjointed debate more it is intended to be reasonably interesting and always self deprecating. For the avoidance of doubt, I admire Napoleon – there were clearly flaws in his strategies – for example attempting to march on Russia in winter but I think that forgiveable – it was Hitler who was the real fool for doing exactly the same thing nearly a century and a half later. Waterloo might have gone either way. And he was murdered. My father worked on strands of his hair and had no doubt whatsoever. The reason? Well perhaps you can answer that one for me but it leaves me sad and angry.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 13, 2018
      • I appreciate the reminder of the complexity of the human experience and that when I forget this and get caught up in simplifying or right/wrong thinking I inevitably find myself off balance.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 14, 2018
      • A wise perspective indeed Arati 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        March 14, 2018
  35. Wowwwwwww….i learned a great deal of infoemation and history here…i will also be going through each comment..it seemed to me that you have brilliant followers sharing their thoughts here..i honestly learned a lot..

    Liked by 2 people

    March 13, 2018
    • Thank you so much …. I am fortunate to have many followers who are serious and thoughtful and indulge me when I decide to take different directions in my storytelling. I am grateful to you for your kind remarks and I am grateful that our paths crossed and that we are able to journey along together 😊

      Liked by 2 people

      March 13, 2018
      • Thank you too Osyth..
        I still am reading again your post as well as the comments..lol in case i miss out something.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 14, 2018
      • There’s a lot in the commentary, that is certain!

        Liked by 1 person

        March 14, 2018
  36. What a brilliant post. I always had a soft spot for Napoleon Bonaparte. He was a brilliant strategist -in my books. He was an amazing leader, he had a vision and went for it. Until this day his stamp is all over Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 13, 2018
    • I’m with you all the way on that (though it is fair to say that he got it monumentally wrong with Russia and that he didn’t take the time to really retrench before heading to Waterloo) … I am glad you agree that he has left a great mark – irrespective of the mayhem and carnage, he left good things. It is amazing to me that some people play blind to the good because there were less good bits. It is a form of whitewashing history and not at all clever.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 13, 2018
      • I think it has become the norm to judge without deeper knowledge. I learned about Napoleon Bonaparte in school and back then, my opinion about him was the one my teacher gave me. Later, my brain kicked in and I learned -and read more- that’s when I had my own opinion.

        Liked by 2 people

        March 13, 2018
      • You are so right …. we have become a skate on the veneer society and it doesn’t do. Forming real option comes with deep and broad reading. I wish more would understand that….

        Liked by 2 people

        March 13, 2018
  37. I hereby dub you my historical leader. Like a spiritual leader, but my personal guide through history. I can pay you in food.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 14, 2018
    • Thank you – I accept …. the food is too good to resist!

      Like

      March 14, 2018
  38. A perfect start to my grey Wednesday. History in the hands of such a perfect storyteller comes alive. I felt I was right there with those soldiers and would have cheered along with them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    March 14, 2018
  39. Wow I had no idea about any of this history! Wonderful post dear xo

    Liked by 1 person

    March 14, 2018
  40. Great story and I learned a lot along the way! I’d venture to say, like all legal systems developed in the early 1800’s, I’m sure they wouldn’t fly today. Ya think? As you know, amendments come with change.
    I could go sideways on Napoleon, but I think it would be a distraction from the point you’re making. It would seem that France had ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ before the Code Napoleon. I like the description Voltaire gave of France before 1804. He said, “A man traveling across France would have to change laws as often as he changed horses.” 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    March 14, 2018
    • Love that Voltaire quote. As with all historic figures one can go up down right left and right around Napoleon and one will get differing views on the man and all his effects.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 15, 2018
      • I couldn’t agree with you more. When a high profile figure, historical or present day is placed as a shared topic of conversation, the comments will definitely run hot and cold. I’m adding a little
        grinish FYI to my reply. The first thought I had when I saw Napoleon’s name in your post was the stigma attached to him. For some reasons unknown to me it was a Big Deal many many years ago. The stigma would of been the ‘Little Big Man Syndrome’. The syndrome doesn’t seem to discriminate by stature as much today.
        Take care… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        March 16, 2018
      • It’s one of the great advantages of living abroad. You get a totally different perspective on both historic and current affairs – both are in the hands of the reporters and it is fair to say that reporters will spin quite happily what they want us to suck up. Little Big Man? You can be very very small in a large corpse 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        March 16, 2018
  41. I count Napoleon amongst my ” heroes” in history, along with Cardinal Richelieu, Philip II, and yes Hitler. I have a far longer list but some are not so well known. I will not get drawn into moral issues with regard these powerful men, or condone all their actions; but I also can see beyond that to the stressful decision making situations they dealt with, the threats to their beliefs that had to be resolved and that I should walk in their shoes before I make a judgement call. History changes. The removal of the Jews in Spain and by the Polish gets far less airing than their removal in Germany and back in the 19th century their removal was seen by many historians has necessary. It would be harder to say that now without a huge backlash. Great post Osyth and a reminder that i miss history. It can answer so many questions of why we do what we do now and what we probably will do in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 17, 2018
    • Your comment is interesting and informed. We cannot judge history in a binary fashion. People do need to understand history. And that actually entails reading many accounts and contemplating our life now and how events played out over the centuries to allow us to evolve and what might have been different had events been different. Thank you, Judi.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 18, 2018
      • So true. Ruling a country derived from what may have been thrust upon you, been won in conflict or the supression of your fellow countrymen turned you revolutionary may never be understood but that’s why you need all angles to be explored. What works today may have been unthinkable before. That is why history is so powerful.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 18, 2018
      • 👍

        Like

        March 19, 2018
  42. I don’t know enough about him to make an opinion to be honest but I liked your story. How are you? X

    Liked by 1 person

    March 18, 2018
    • I’m very well and horribly busy. I have been reading your posts but only managing to ‘like’ them for lack of time. All will be revealed as to why the manic activity in about a month from now 😉 xx

      Like

      March 19, 2018
  43. Wonderful post, Fiona! I don’t know why but I always rather liked Napoleon and have a picture of us standing together and looking down at a map (okay, I did not travel through time but went to Mdm Tussaud’s but what the heck 😉). xxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    March 19, 2018
  44. History is indeed in the hands of the storytellers and that is why telling it is sometimes so difficult, and not always to everyone’s taste. Well done for your balanced portrait of a man who, perhaps more than most historical figures, has suffered at the hands of historians.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 20, 2018
    • Thank you Nessa. I have read your last post and have been working out how to respond without inflaming your commentator once more .. a good example of what you are saying here.

      Napoleon has been unfairly drawn by the many – I prefer to try and take a balanced view even though it is really just a little sketch.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 20, 2018
      • Yes, I was afraid of that. That person’s comments will henceforth be moderated by me before appearing. I am all in favour of debate, provided it is polite and respectful. I cannot allow the opposite.

        Your post was interesting and has whetted my appetite to find out more about Napoleon. I think the value in posts like this, as well as providing interesting information in themselves, is in encouraging people to dig deeper below the popular myths and misconceptions.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 20, 2018
      • Absolutely right. You can’t have people throwing unpleasantries around. I’m not afraid of debate, quite the opposite, but I do think one has to be polite, listen to the other opinion and not hurl a tantrum if one doesn’t like the other point of view. The value of history is in it’s lessons and in order to have the chance to learn one must be able to read and absorb at a deeper level than the pond-skating that is often presented as fact. I will be popping back to your post this morning and I will leave a comment but it will be mild — I don’t want to ignite the protagonist afresh!

        Liked by 1 person

        March 20, 2018
      • Thank you, as ever, for your sensitivity – in the best sense of the word.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 20, 2018
  45. Finally, my brain cells allowed to comprehend the words so beautifully written by you, a Josephine perhaps? I don’t know very much about French history apart from the Revolution but I truly believe that we should have a much more egalitarian society. Thank you for teaching me a little bit more about Napoleon who was previously little thought of in my mind. Now I understand why he was so beloved. There is some mistaken belief that America is a place where all can be equal and anyone can be President. Your class or caste is even more important than it is in Europe. Very few people get jobs based on their worth. The poor are very poor and the rich are very rich. Bravo my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    March 21, 2018
    • My mother’s name is Josephine 😉…. I’m so glad you enjoyed this – I don’t profess to be a Historian and certainly not a French one but history fascinates me as I think it should all of us … therein lie the lessons learned and if not revisited, forgotten so we make the same mistakes again. Your comment about the US echoes exactly what I found when I had my year there and it saddens me beyond measure. Maybe the answer IS revolution – I certainly think that a by-product of the present ‘Sun King’ in the Whitehouse is an increasing appetite for such. We just need the right voice to lead the charge – I hope they appear very soon x

      Liked by 1 person

      March 22, 2018
      • I have just read all the other comments – you certainly stirred up some strong feelings! The peasants are revolting here but we seem to have lost a certain etiquette.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 22, 2018
      • I really did and all it was meant as was a story 🤤… I’m sure I should be pleased to have spiked emotions but I was really rather taken aback and occasionally bruised!!! X

        Liked by 1 person

        March 23, 2018
      • I would have been bruised too and I wish people would be more thoughtful when they respond. I completely understood your intent. ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

        March 23, 2018
  46. “History lies in the hands of the storyteller”….what a great line! Interesting how history has been altered for so many, by so many.

    Liked by 2 people

    March 29, 2018
    • I’m glad you like that line, George – I truly believe it. So long as we learn lessons from history, in a sense does it matter how it is told …. the crime is to cover things up in the hopes that we might look better to future generations – when we are gone, we are gone and it is not for us to pretend a rosy legacy for those that come after us.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 29, 2018
  47. Osyth,

    I always enjoy reading your blog. I’m a history buff – so this one really thrilled me.

    I’ve been to Ile d’aix in Charente-Maritime where he spent his final days in France before being transferred to Saint Helena. Such interesting history.

    No cars are allowed here – which takes you back in time. The island is also close to Fort Boyard which, was started during Napoleon’s reign.

    I’m behind in my reading and catching up today. Hope you are well.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 5, 2018
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it. He was an extraordinary man and left a great legacy – it is sad that many are too narrow minded to see outside of the less savoury things. It is always lovely to hear from you – I am very behind for reasons that will be revealed in the next week or two.

      Like

      April 10, 2018
  48. A wonderful and fascinating insight from a very different perspective – which I love. Putting our shoe on the other foot is always good! A lesson in the power of a true leader….

    I’ve been very ‘off piste’ recently and I hope all is well with you Osyth?

    Liked by 2 people

    April 20, 2018
    • Thank you Wendy – we have been off-piste together! I’m hoping to put my best foot forward again in the next few days and meantime I send you lots of love from my new place 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      May 4, 2018
      • We have Osyth and I’m trying to get back on track too.. That’s the way – best foot forward!! I’m so glad you’ve arrived in US and I’m sure lots of great adventures are on there way for you… Can’t wait to read all about them. Much love xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

        May 4, 2018
  49. Hey Osyth, I just nominated you for the « Blogger Recognition Award » : https://roijoyeux.wordpress.com/2018/05/10/joyeux-blogger-award-2/
    if you want to win the award please visit my blog and follow the instructions. Whatever you do, I love “Half Baked In Paradise.” Have a great day !!

    Liked by 1 person

    May 10, 2018
    • You are far too kind! I will accept this and will get to checking it out and doing what I need to do in the next week or so. Thank you so much – coming from you it means a great deal. I hope your weekend has been beautiful … a friend in Cantal posted pictures of snow today!

      Liked by 1 person

      May 13, 2018
      • You’re very welcome, you deserve it ! My weekend has been fine but colder than usual; in May it should be warmer… I hope is well with you wherever you are!

        Liked by 1 person

        May 14, 2018
      • It’s a little erratic climate wise but jolly good other than that!

        Liked by 1 person

        May 14, 2018

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