February 26th, 1815 | Napoléon Bonaparte Escapes from Elba (Part II)
“The goal of the
constitutional government is to conserve the republic; the aim of the
revolutionary government is to found it… The revolutionary government owes to
the good citizen all the protection of the nation; it owes nothing to the
enemies of the people but death… These notions would be enough to explain the
origin and the nature of laws that we call revolutionary … If the
revolutionary government must be more active in its march and more free in his
movements than an ordinary government, is it for that less fair and legitimate?
No; it is supported by the most holy of all laws: the salvation of the people.”
It is the end of the 18th Century, and France is
making the rest of Europe particularly uncomfortable by deciding that the rich
toffs had is far too cushy by half and that they needed to go: the common man
deserved and needed way more representation. Of course, in an era of Kings,
Queens and Emperors, when family lineages decided the fate of nations over a
friendly game of croquet and cucumber sandwiches, the idea of the peasantry
deciding anything was not a popular
But, peasants or not, revolution or no, at the end of the
day humans will be humans, and when you throw off the yolk of tyranny and elect
a directory of leaders to “get shit in order,” well it’s only going to be a
matter of time before this very same group of guys starts to push and shove
against each other.
By 1793, France had managed to whip itself up into a little
fervor of revolutionary zeal: attacks and hostility from surrounding countries hell-bent
on putting an end to “this revolutionary nonsense” stirred internal pro-France,
pro-war sentimentality, which resulted in extraordinary powers being handed to
the Directory. Likewise, any level of “um, maybe we shouldn’t go to war,” was
met with a resounding “ YOU PACIFIST, ANTI-FRENCH BASTARD!” and – typically –
an introduction to the wrong end of a sharp blade.
This entire cooking pot boiled over – and I mean
magnificently so – as Frenchmen wanting to distance themselves from looking
traitorous, found themselves standing behind – and encouraging – bloodthirsty,
warlike individuals, the result of which was The Reign of Terror.
And if you have a period in your history that has the words
“Reign of Terror” in it, then you’re probably going to have a bad time.
What did you do during
the Terror? “J'ai vécu” (“I lived”). ~ Emmanuel Joseph
The Terror lasted less than a year, but during this time there
was violence in France unlike any other period of the revolution. Mass
executions of “the enemies of the revolution” saw the end of 16,594 people
under the blade of the guillotine alone, and outside of the “National Razor”
another 25,000 were butchered across France. And this is just a couple of
hundred years ago folks: over 40,000 French men and women, summarily executed
the fuck out of under the guise of national safety.
And in amongst all of this upheaval there was a certain Emmanuel
Joseph Sieyès, a clergyman born from a peasant family; disillusioned by the
meteorite rise of nobility within the church – compared to his own,
molasses-like rise – he was moved to write a pamphlet with content that
inspired, and incited, the common man.
“What is the Third
Estate? Everything. What has it been hitherto in the political order? Nothing.
What does it desire to be? Something.”
Sieyès’s pamphlet played a key role in shaping the currents
of revolutionary thought that propelled France towards the French Revolution.
In his pamphlet, he outlined the desires and frustrations of the alienated
class of people that made up the third estate. He attacked the foundations of
the French Ancien Régime by arguing
the nobility to be a fraudulent institution, preying on an overburdened and
despondent bourgeoisie. In other words, he was a Bernie Sanders of his time.
This pamphlet catapulted Sieyès into the political arena, but
while he contributed to the bonfire of the revolution, he couldn’t control the
flames once it was burning. Sieyès wanted representation for the common man,
but he never intended to overthrow the monarchy. So when Frenchmen started
having bets on how many heads they could shove onto a pike in a single
afternoon, Sieyès found himself somewhat estranged from the Directory, so much
so, that he spent some years attempting to garner foreign support and allies,
and undermined the authority of the Directory as much as he could.
But the years dragged on, the end of the 18th
Century loomed, and Sieyès was no closer to building the France that he dreamed
of. And that’s when this guy returned from Egypt to a hero’s welcome:
wooer of women, leader of men, cannon ball juggler, face puncher, and
Napoléon hadn’t had a hugely successful time in Egypt, but –
my god – when he returned to France, the people revered him like he’d taken the
entire Med., bent it over roughly, and had given it a jolly good seeing to. And
with a man like this on your wide, anything could be accomplished.
Sieyès rubbed his chin thoughtfully, decided that a coup
would be entirely possible with a man like Napoléon, and promptly set about
gathering allies for coup d'état of the unpopular Directory. What Sieyès did
not know, was that Napoléon was likewise rubbing his own chin, and was planning
a coup within a coup.
Under the false pretense that the Jacobite faction was
planning an uprising in Paris, Napoléon was given control of the local forces
and the Directory was convinced – as part of their protection – to resign or
flee the city. Within a day – unable to hold a quorum – the Directory was
effectively dissolved, and this just left a small matter of getting the two
councils of the Ancients and the Five Hundred to acquiesce to a new regime.
They didn’t, of course; in fact they were bloody well upset
that a small cadre of political types had wooed over Napoléon and were –
clearly – enacting a coup. Napoléon responded in a calm, thoughtful, and
collaborative manner: he gathered up his guards and stormed the council halls,
and – with his brother waving a sword around and shouting out all sorts of Fox
News like bullshit about “they have daggers! Protect Napoléon!” the councils
were rousted from their seats, and within 2 short days the entire legislature had
effectively been dismantled and the commissions were intimidated into declaring
a provisional government; a Consulate of Napoléon, Sieyès, and Ducos.
“The Constitution! You
yourselves have destroyed it. You violated it on 18 Fructidor; you violated it
on 22 Floreal; you violated it on 30 Prairial. It no longer has the respect of
anyone.” ~ Napoléon, addressing the Ancients.
The reaction from the common man on the streets was
extremely quiet and muted; if anything, they were kinda chuffed that new blood
was in charge. France had gone through many years of upheaval, civil wars, and
foreign aggression, and the former ruling body had largely driven the country
into debt. Having some new toffs – particularly Sieyès and Napoléon – in
charge, could only be a good thing. The French Revolution was over.
The commission drew up the “Constitution of the Year
VIII”, the first of the constitutions since the Revolution without a
Declaration of Rights, and Sieyès was a happy camper; he had finally shaped the
country he had been striving for.
Unfortunately for him, Napoléon re-wrote the new Constitution:
his formerly minor role in the three consuls was radically changed; he put
himself in as first Consul, relegated the role of the other two Consuls to
consultation only, and then appointed a Senate to interpret the constitution.
This effectively allowed him – as the First Consul for ten years – to rule by
decree, also sidelining the State Council and Tribunat.
And – to ensure that everything was legitimate and upheld by
law – the Napoléon version of the Constitution was thus voted upon and accepted
with 3,000,000 votes in favor. And … um … 1,567 against.
That’s … uh … 0.00052% against.
So, he was popular. I guess.
Or the whole thing was rigged to shit.
The coup within a coup was complete: Napoleon was now –
effectively – a dictator.
And now we take a breath: the young artillery commander had
experienced a whirlwind ride up the ranks, into a commanding position, and now
ruled supreme over the country he loved so dearly. So, what do you do next?
War. War is always a good idea.
Looking outward towards the Brits and Austrians, Napoléon
decided that it was time to start punching back and to make up for former
losses; rich lands could be acquired, and former territories pulled back into
the fold. So Napoléon did what any dictator would do: he formed up his armies
and start stonking across Europe.
From 1800 to 1802, France threw haymakers at Austria and
Britain, eventually beating Austria into submission and securing peace with the
British in 1803. Bolstered by how big his balls were growing, he decided that
“First Consul” was cool and everything, but “First Consul for Life, yo” was
He drafted up a bill that basically said “Napoléon can do
what the fuck he wants, for as long as he wants” and he asked the country to
vote on it.
99.8% voted in favor.
So, not rigged at all.
In 1804, with war back on with the Brits after just 1 year
of peace, Napoléon learned of a plot against him (because, apparently, not
everyone was struck by the dictator-for-life, thing). He crushed this and
managed to off one or two people not involved with it at the same time, but one
thing it underscored was that doing away with him was something that would
undermine everything he had built up. Now, if he had an heir, and if he ruled
in such a position that allowed heirs to inherit, then not only would his
lineage would be preserved, but also would-be assassins would have little to
gain in offing him.
Congratulating himself on a plan well formed, he thusly
re-instated the French Monarchy and made himself emperor. But, but you have to
be legit on this type of thing, so he again asked the country to vote on this.
99.3% of the country said “yes, buddy, of course you can be
Emperor and ensure that your family rules over us, after we just got done
FUCKING HAVING A REVOLUTION OVER THIS SHIT.”
On December 2nd, 1804, he was crowned by Pope
Pius VII as Napoléon I, and at Milan in May 1805, he was crowned King of Italy.
And – to ensure the allegiance of the army – he created eighteen Marshals of
the Empire from amongst his top generals.
Everything was now buttoned down nicely: it was time to go
and kick every other European leader square in the wedding-tackle.
He had at his disposal 350,000 well-trained, well organized,
and well led men. He faced a coalition of British, Austrian, and Russian
forces; the Brits having never really abided by the terms of the 1803 peace
treaty, and the Austrians and Russians wanting to get revenge for earlier
In September, 1805, Napoléon started to demonstrate just how
bad assed his army was: while all the other nations were plodding around at
tortoise-like speeds and with the maneuverability of a World War I
pillbox, the Grande Armée could wheel,
maneuver, flank, duck and weave, as a series of smaller units, all capable of
supporting each other as needed.
As the Austrians plopped their fat arses in the fortress of Ulm
in Swabia, 200,000 French men pretty much just ran around them and cut them off
from the rest of Austria. The Ulm Maneuver caught the Austrian General – Mack –
with his pants down, and he suddenly realized that he was in a bit of a pickle.
After a few skirmish engagements, the Battle of Ulm had the Austrians
completely beat and 60,000 of them were captured in exchange for just 2,000
Not everything went Napoléon’s way, because around this
time, the Duke of Wellington was ass-raping the French fleet at the Battle of
Trafalgar, but on land … on land he was proving to have no match.
“You cannot stop
me, I spend 30,000 men a month.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
Vienna fell in November, and with this a huge bounty of
100,000 captured muskets, 500 cannon, and some handy-dandy bridges across the
Now it was Tsar Alexander I’s and the Holy Roman Emperor
Francis II’s turn. The French were withdrawing and seemed to be weak and
perfect for a counter-attack, but what Alexander and Francis did not realize
was that Napoléon was completely faking it; he was looking to lure them into a
And here we have the Battle
of Austerlitz. I write up about this one here, but the tl/dr version is
simple: Napoléon engaged in a series of bluffs, made his position and zeal for
a fight to appear to be a weak one, and completely played his Austrian/Russian
opponents, forcing them to do what he wanted, when he wanted. He gambled an
entire flank to lure the opposition into weakening their center, and when they
did, he utterly crushed them.
Because of the
near-perfect execution of a calibrated but dangerous plan, the battle is often
seen as a tactical masterpiece of the same stature as Cannae, the celebrated
triumph by Hannibal some 2,000 years before.
Austria immediately agreed to an armistice and Russia
retreated for the cold embrace of their homeland as quick as their little feet
could carry them.
Napoléon now started to arrange Europe as he saw fit,
establishing the Confederation of the Rhine in 1806; a collection of German
states intended to act as a buffer between France and Eastern Europe. This
spelled the end of the Holy Roman Empire and – unsurprisingly – alarmed the
shit out of the Prussians, who were immediately “whoah, dude, wtf?”
War fever in Berlin rose to an exploding point, but picture
– if you will – an extremely annoyed, boisterous boy throwing himself across
the playing ground at the quiet, tall, kung-fu master; shouting, swearing, and
ultimately running face-long into the worst pummeling he has ever been on the
Napoléon invaded Prussia with 180,000 men, and –
characteristic of the French system – they moved quickly. They swung across the Saale with over-fucking-whelming
force, and across the twin battles of Jena and Auersedt, the French utterly and
absolutely broke every fucking bone in the Prussian body. Major commanders were
killed or incapacitated, leaving the army unable to govern itself; the entire
Prussian force just started to disintegrate.
140,000 Prussian soldiers were captured, with over 2,000
cannon and hundreds of ammunition wagons just adding icing to the “duuuude,,
you got SCHOOLED!” cake.
“Never has the morale
of any army been more completely shattered.”
~ David Chandler, Historian.
Napoléon now set about isolating the British, introducing
the Continental System throughout Europe, which basically boiled down to “don’t
trade with the limey’s, or I will be somewhat irked.”
Of course, the Russians were not out of the fight yet, and
the Prussians – defeated as they were – refused to surrender while the Russians
were around. So, to answer this little pickle, Napoléon formed up the Grand
Armée, had a couple of scuffles with the Russian forces, and then utterly
smashed them to little pieces at the Battle of Friedland.
So complete was this destruction, that Czar Alexander met
Napoléon on a raft on the River Niemen, and the first words out of his mouth
were “I hate the English as much as you do.” An unexpected alliance was formed.
Napoleons peace treaty with the Russians was somewhat
lenient as long as they joined the Continental System. But for the Prussians –
who had doubtlessly pissed him off by refusing to surrender despite being
beaten - the terms were considerably worse: half of the Prussian territories
were wiped off the map, and a new Kingdom of Westphalia was formed.
A form of “peace” and calm fell over Europe: the Austrians, Russians, and Prussians were
now all whipped into obedience and just the English remained. Napoléon returned
to France for the first time in 300 days and decided that a little organization
of his empire was in order.
The most important item on his agenda was the enforcement of
the Continental System against the English, one major transgressor being the
Kingdom of Portugal, which had agreed to abide by the trade blockade, but after
the English handed it to the French at Trafalgar, King John VI kinda thought
“yeah, you French can kiss it, the Brits clearly have this one,” and he quite
openly started trading with them again.
Now I’m not sure if John thought he was too far off on the
other side of the Iberian Peninsula for Napoléon to do anything about this
change of heart, or maybe he thought that the British control of the seas would
keep the French occupied, but Napoléon decided that it was time to get this
shit under control.
On October 17th, 1807, 24,000 French troops
crossed the Pyrenees – with Spanish permission – and headed towards Portugal.
This, ultimately, started a SIX YEAR struggle known as “the Peninsular War,”
and it would prove to be a constant leech on French strength.
The entire campaign became the antithesis of typical French
quick-maneuvers; their agents started to meddle in Spanish royal affairs, blatantly
intent on sowing discourse between members of the royal family. Then, on
February 16th 1808, Napoléon announced that he was intervening to
mediate between rival factions. 120,000 French soldiers under Marshal Murat
entered Spain and arrived at Madrid on the 24th of March.
The Spanish – rightfully so – were pissed off; riots
erupted, and this only got worse when Napoléon – in a total face-palming moment
– appointed his brother as the new King of Spain. I can only imagine that he
had completely under estimated the Spanish, but the net result was country-wide
revolt and resistance to French occupation.
The French were – shock upon shocks – defeated at the Battle
of Bailén, and suddenly the country was not just indignant, but they were
fueled with the fires of success.
Napoléon was forced to personally intervene, and after a
quick “Russia, we cool? Don’t be doing shit behind my back,” he headed off to
Spain with 80,000 troops and promptly jack booted his way through everything
remotely Spanish looking, and – just to prove a point – he drove the British to
the coast, paused for a moment, and then kicked them into the ocean.
Straightening his jacket and sleeve cuffs, he dusted himself
off, turned to his generals, and uttered the famous words “and that, gentlemen,
is how you get shit done.” (Completely made up, but doubtlessly true.)
Believing that everything was now “sorted,” he buggered off
back to Europe and would never step onto Spanish soil again. The catch was,
things were far from secure. The Brits returned, this time under the Duke of
Wellington – more of this guy when we cover Waterloo – and the war on the
Iberian Peninsula devolved into a series of asymmetric strategic deadlocks with
no side getting the upper hand for long. Brutal guerrilla warfare engulfed the
countryside and utterly neutralized 300,000 French forces stationed in the
Which might be why the Austrians – after 4 years of sitting
on the sidelines, but still smarting from earlier defeats – declared war on the
French on February 8th, 1809. Reportedly Napoléon, mid-bite on a
particularly tasty croissant, spat it out when hearing the news, and exclaimed
“those sneaky little twats, haven’t they learned anything?” (Also completely
The Austrian attack on the morning of April 10th
was sudden and completely unexpected. By the time Napoléon arrived at
Donauwörth to see what the fuck was going on, the Grande Armée was in a tenuous
position, with flanks 75 miles apart, and a thin center of Bavarian troops.
Again, characteristic for Napoléon and the French forces, he
conceived of a quick, nimble maneuver, in which he realigned his army and
marched his soldiers towards the town of Eckmühl, gaining an important victory
on the way and forcing Austrian forces to withdraw over the Danube.
Vienna once again fell to the French – the second time in 4
years – but the Austrian army, under Charles, was still intact and ready to mix
it up. Charles positioned himself several miles from the Danube, waiting to see
where the French attempted to cross, and then determined to meet them with
absolutely superior forces.
The crossing was on 21st of May and resulted in the
Battle of Aspern-Essling, where the Austrians enjoyed a superiority of numbers to the tune of 110,000 against 31,000
French. The battle raged from village to
village as the French attempted to secure a crossing, and it spread into a
second day as an additional 39,000 French soldiers arrived. It was a vicious
back-and-forth struggle, but in the end it was the French who retreated under a
withering Austrian cannon bombardment; each side had lost 23,000 casualties.
Europe looked on: Napoléon could be defeated.
The French rebounded in June of the same year, this time
with 180,000 troops. Charles once again met them, and with 150,000 Austrian
forces, the ensuing Battle of Wagram was the largest battle of Napoleons career
at the time.
It was a bloody, two-day affair, with the French finally
thrusting through the Austrian center and sending them to rout, but the French
too exhausted to pursue.
40,000 Austrians were lost at Wagram and it was clear that
their fate was going to be down to a matter of time. And here the British
stepped in with a “hold on me old mucker, we’ll be there in a jiffy!” second
front in the Kingdom of Holland, but by the time they landed the Austrians were
all but defeated. Austria looked on cautiously … could the limey’s save the
Yeah … nope!
The Walcheren Campaign was a beautiful exercise in
incompetency, and the British lost 4,000 men in very little fighting,
eventually being chased back home. The net result of their glorious “second
front,” had accomplished nothing but to delay the political settlement of
Austrians and French.
The Treaty of Schönbrunn in October of 1809 had “Napoléon is
one pissed off little camper” written all over it. Hereditary lands were left
as part of the Hapsburg realm, but France received Carinthia, Carniola, and the
Adriatic ports, while Galicia was given to the Poles and the Salzburg area of
the Tyrol went to the Bavarians. Austria lost over three million subjects, or
20% of her total population.
The War of the Fifth Coalition had been a bust and was the
last major conflict in Europe for three years.
Napoléon once again turned his attention to domestic affairs
and matters of his own personal lineage; Empress Joséphine had failed to give
him an heir, so he did what any bloke would do, he gave her the short shrift
and started looking for another bit of totty. Hoping to cement the recent
alliance with Austria through a family connection, Napoleon married the
Archduchess Marie Louise, who was 18 years old at the time. And this proved to
be a great move, because not only was she smoking hot, but apparently she was a
fertile little minx, and in March, 1811,
Marie gave birth to a baby boy. Napoléon instantly made him heir apparent – of
course – and bestowed the title King of Rome.
His son would never rule the Empire.
And now there was peace. PFFT! Of course there wasn’t!
Napoléon didn’t know it at the time, but here on out, things
were going to be pretty shitty.
The alliance with Russia had held firm for four years, and
the two leaders were even somewhat friendly, but Alexander was under a great
deal of pressure from Russian nobility to break off the alliance. He resisted
at first, but cracks started to show as the Russians abandoned the Continental
System, thus forcing Napoléon to threaten them with serious consequences.
By 1812, Alexander’s advisers started to suggest a possible
invasion of French and the recapture of Poland, news of which started to
trickle in to Napoléon. One of these guys was going to kick it off first, and
Napoléon was determined for it to be him.
Naturally, Russia is a vast swathe of “fuck you in the ass,”
and no one in the right mind would invade it with any hope of winning. I mean,
it’s big. No, no, like really big. Bigger than you think. Much bigger. And it
gets hellishly cold during the winter; the type of cold that destroys entire
armies. Just ask Hitler.
Napoléon thought differently.
He expanded his Grande Armée to 450,000 men (and that’s an
impressive size), and started to prepare for “Operation Fist up Russkie Butt.”
On June 23rd, 1812, the invasion began.
Now, doubtlessly Napoléon never intended to take all of
Russia as his own; he was a quick-in, decisive victory, destroy the willingness
of the enemy to fight, negotiate peace, quick out, type of guy. But shit went
wrong right from the get go.
The Russians avoided all decisive engagements and just kept
retreating deeper and deeper into Russia. Brief fights here and there – such as
at Smolensk – would see them defeated, but they just kept marching backwards,
deeper and deeper, scorching all of the earth around them.
Napoléon’s 450,000 men were now becoming a liability and
food was increasingly difficult to forage for.
Then, just outside of Moscow, the Russians stood firm and
battle was given at Borodino. 44,000 Russians died, alongside 35,000 Frenchmen;
it was a bloody, bloody slaughter. The French won the day, but the Russians had
accepted and withstood the French, and the battle had not been the crushing
blow Napoléon had been looking for.
“The most terrible of
all my battles was the one before Moscow. The French showed themselves to be
worthy of victory, but the Russians showed themselves worthy of being
invincible.” ~ Napoléon
Again the Russians withdrew, and here Napoléon believed that
he had victory: Moscow was his; with its capture surely they would capitulate
and agree to terms.
The Russians BURNED MOSCOW.
And that’s freaking hardcore.
It was now early November, and the Russian winter loomed
like a steel mallet dipped in tar, encrusted with broken glass, set on fire, and
wielded by a bare-chested Vladimir Putin riding a rabid bear.
Unrest in France started to spell the possibility of the
loss of Paris itself, and Napoléon was forced to march his army, knee-deep in
snow, back westward. In the space of ONE NIGHT, he lost 10,000 men and horses.
Let that sink in for a moment. He isn’t out of the Russian
arm-bar yet, and his “Grande Armée” is disintegrating around him at a hellish
The retreat out of Russia was RUINOUS. The Grande Armée had
started with over 400,000 frontline troops, but in the end fewer than 40,000
crossed the Berezina River in November 1812. Look around you; now imagine 9 in
10 people being dead. That’s pretty murderous.
But aside from the sheer loss of life and materials, there
was the loss of experience and skill: trained horses, experienced cavalrymen,
infantry with years of frontline service … in Russia, France lost it all. Napoléon
had no choice but to start pulling troops out of the Iberian Peninsula, ultimately
starting a slippery slope towards losing that area altogether to the allies.
Unsurprisingly, both Russia and France needed a little time
to rebuild lost troops and over the winter of 1812-1813, there was a lull in
the fighting. But this didn’t stop the buzzards from circling. With this disastrous
defeat, Prussia again saw its chance to give France a bloody good kicking, and
they joined forces with Austria, Sweden, Russia, Great Britain, Spain, and
Portugal. And if you weren’t counting there, that’s seven countries against just
Despite France fighting valiantly, the numbers were just
hopelessly stacked against her. She won at Dresden, but ended up pinned down
against an army twice her size at Leipzig; 225,000 Frenchmen squared off
against 380,000 coalition forces …. The numbers were ridiculous and it was by
far the largest battle of the Napoleonic wars. The French lost 60,000 dead,
wounded and captured here, while the coalition forces lost 54,000. It was a
bloody brawl, but one that France could not keep bouncing back from.
And now it was time for the allies to offer terms to France:
surrender, reduce your borders to their natural state, and stop being a dick.
That was it: he could even carry on being Emperor and all of that shit.
The terms were exceptionally good, and while France would
have had to have given up a lot of conquered territory, she would likewise get
to keep a great deal as well. But Napoléon dilly-dallied around and lost the
opportunity; by the end of 1813, the allies had pulled the offer off the table.
When – in 1814 – he did wish to open up these negotiations,
the allies were all “yeah, that ship has sailed, buddy.” The terms now were
much harsher: now France had to retreat to her 1791 boundaries. Napoléon could
remain Emperor. For now.
He had just 70,000 men in his army, and pretty much no
cavalry. The allies were so, so much greater in numbers, and – surrounding him
on all sides – the leaders of Paris thought “this guy is crazy” and they
And it’s about this point where Napoléon ended up with no
friends at home. Alexander addressed the Sénat conservateur, and pretty much
said “listen dudes, we have no beef with France; it’s that dick Napoléon we can’t
handle. You have to remove him from power, and if you do, we’ll be all sweet by
The Sénat tended to agree, and the following day they passed
the Acte de déchéance de l'Empereur
(“Emperor’s Demise Act”), which declared Napoleon deposed.
Napoléon’s response when he heard? “Let’s take the capital!”
Thankfully, his generals were pretty much “yeah … NO!” Napoléon
had to bow to the inevitable, and on April 4th he abdicated in favor
of his son. This didn’t go over well with the allies, so after a few more arm
twists he eventually abdicated unconditionally.
The Allied Powers
having declared that Emperor Napoleon was the sole obstacle to the restoration
of peace in Europe, Emperor Napoleon, faithful to his oath, declares that he
renounces, for himself and his heirs, the thrones of France and Italy, and that
there is no personal sacrifice, even that of his life, which he is not ready to
do in the interests of France.
Napoléon was exiled to Elba; a Mediterranean island jut off the Tuscan coast and sporting just
12,000 inhabitants. They gave him sovereignty over the island and allowed him
to keep his title, but as he gazed out over the idyllic view and pondered over
his wife and son in Austria, he figured that he could do so, so much better.
In the first few months on Elba Napoleon created a small
navy and army, developed the iron mines, and issued decrees on modern