A enlightening letter written by Napoleon Bonaparte in English it was auctioned on Sunday, May 3 for 325,000 euros. The text offers a direct glimpse into the mind of the French emperor and is believed to be a exercise that Napoleon sent to an English teacher to correct in 1816.
According to the auction organizers, it is one of the three English letters from Napoleon that exist in the world. It was bought by the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts in Paris near the castle of Fontainebleau. The sale price, five times higher than what the auctioneers thought, suggests the high historical value of the document, since it can be considered proof that Napoleon, who openly called the UK "nation of shopkeepers"Learned to speak the shakespeare language while he was held in Santa Elena.
The president of the auction house, Jean-Pierre Osenat, claims that Napoleon's English classes were “very noble and respectful", Since the emperor actually had"a great admiration for England, for its rules and its history”. Too discard the theory that the French hated them, holding that he was nothing more than a military man and that is why he defended the interests of his own country.
However, it remains to be seen whether the Gallic strategist learned English only out of respect or, if on the contrary, there was also vanity in said action. Osenat explains: “Of course, he was always very concerned about his image. He wanted to read what was said about him in the English press”.
Be that as it may and despite Napoleon's efforts, the letter shows that he still had a long way to go in mastering the English language. In the writing he asks apologies to your teacher and asks you to correct your mistakes. In a moment of surprising humility, Napoleon Bonaparte asks his teacher in the letter to please him and correct his mistakes.
The auctioned document offers an insight into the historical puzzle in which Napoleon he was converted during his captivity and exile. After the defeat at Waterloo, the Gallic military man was under constant surveillance allowing only a small entourage to visit him. These circumstances depressed the emperor and brought him inexorably close to death.
The 19th century manuscript expert, Alain Nicolas, comments that it is a very emotional letter, since it is one of the last pieces that the French strategist wrote before his death. Special interest for Nicolas is the phrase at the end of the letter that reads: “At four in the morning”, As it would show that stomach cancer prevented him from sleeping and accentuated his insomnia.
The card shows a different face of Napoleon. He appears pensive and in pain, a very different view from the feared emperor who conquered Europe. The hours he spent working hard in front of a sheet of paper also show a lonely and socially abandoned Napoleon.
Nicolás values: “Napoleon had plenty of moments to sit and reflect on Saint Helena. Learning English was a way to fill his time and he began to practice it at the end of his days. It was a stage that he used to reflect on his life, his campaigns, his regrets and his regrets”.
Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was a child he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.