August 11, 2006 cameron

#10 – The Battle of Marengo

In this episode we explore First Consul Bonaparte’s failed attempts to make peace with the Kings of England and Austria after he took power in 1799 and the subsequent French campaign into Italy to regain the territory lost to the Austrians since Napoleon’s original Italian campaign.

We also cover:



Comments (35)

  1. Jerry Acord

    Guys, what’s the deal? I’d just resigned myself to long delays between episodes, and here’s #10 hot on the heels of #9! ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. J. David Markham


    Maybe we’re taking the approach that “An episode a week keeps the Beef Wellington away.” ๐Ÿ˜‰ Actually, I felt guilty that my trip to Scotland caused a bit of a delay, so we decided to do a few in short order. Who knows, we may even do one next week or the week after! Hope you enjoyed it!


  3. Jerry, we’ve just spent too much time studying Napoleon and we subconsciously use his tactics of surprise! This episode struck like Napoleon descending from the Alps on to the unsuspecting Austrians! Like a bolt of lightning… ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. John G

    I can’t believe the difference in the two paintings (above). The first one by Jacques-Louis David makes Napoleon look god like, and the horse is very powerful looking. No wonder this is the more popular. In the second one, by Delaroche, Napoleon looks sickly and dishevelled, and his horse looks like a donkey!

  5. J. David Markham

    Hi, John G,

    Well, Jacques-Louis David was the official Court painter, so naturally his portrait of Napoleon, painted in 1800, was glorious. Note that the cape and the horse’s mane are flowing forward, when you’d expect them to flow backward. It seems Napoleon has a strong wind at his back!

    As Cameron pointed out in the episode, you can see one of the four copies at Napoleon and Josephine’s home in Paris, Malmaison. By the way, Napoleon commissioned the portrait and required that David paint four versions.

    Paul Delaroche painted his in 1848 and while he wasn’t trying to be negative towards Napoleon, he didn’t need to glorify him, either. The painting is generally considered more realistic, though it is a little more lifeless than I would imagine was actually the case. And, of course, the famous hand in the jacket is a myth. The painting hangs in the Louvre, yet another reason to go there!


  6. ub122

    Hello Cameron and David,

    Again a great episode,good job! I didn’t finish listening for the 2nd time episode number 9 as the 10th was avaliable! It was a kind of surprise, but I can promise you,a really good one.
    I had a pleasure to visit Paris,Malmaison,Louvre,Les Invalides and Fontainbleau and I’m 100% agree that the words can not describe the feeling that you get when you see all the paintings of Napoleon by Ingres,David and many others in real size, surely you can’t compare it to the computer screen.

    You mentioned on the show about a “get together” in Australia,to make consortium about Napoleon,well it’s a great idea, and I’ll be more than happy to be present at this event (if it happens).

    Keep doing a great job!!!

  7. Bill

    Cameron and David,

    Great job on the episode. Always look forward to the next podcast.

    Bill, Ketchikan, Alaska.

  8. Tim

    Dear Cameron and David,

    I’ve been a napoleonic fanatic since the moment i could read. At the age of 8 years I went to the public libary to read as many books about Napoleon as i could. I’m now 22 years old but my fascination about Napoleon has never been so huge. Each year I visit Paris to see the invalides and the . It’s too bad that there is a big renovation in the Musรƒยฉe de l’Armรƒยฉe the next and past years. What i did mean to say, I really love you podcast. After reading for so much years, i enjoy hearing 2 authorities talking in-depth about my great hero. I heard so much new things after reading so many books.

    Thank you really much, I really appreciate it.

    Tim [email protected], the Netherlands

  9. Thanks Tim! but there’s really only one authority on the podcast and that, of course, is David. I’m just the guy who presses the buttons. I’m just happy to be here! ๐Ÿ™‚

    So what was it about Napoleon that interested you at the age of 8?

    My sons have been playing with Napoleon toys (that I bought at the Musee l’Armee) since they were three and they know who he was, but I can’t imagine them reading books about him at age 8!

  10. Tim

    I don’t know actually. I just began to read in a Encyclopedia and read a article about Napoleon and since then i’m lost..

  11. Tim

    But i can say that the Invasion of Russia really impressed me, even because of the terrible consequences for Napoleon.

  12. Tim Van Dyck

    Dear Cameron and David,

    Great show again, I did learn new thins concerning Marengo, especially related to the intervention of Desaix, thanks. I really liked your “movie” topic and of course the fact that you always say that Napoleon really was somebody who wanted and liked peace.

    Yes indeed if only Amiens would have lasted…

    We will meet again at Amiens and at the Notre Dame!

    Vivat Imperator!


  13. John G


    I used to be involved in bodybuilding many years ago and can’t believe that Ben Weider (who has had a huge involvement in bodybuilding) is the president and founder of the International Napoleonic Society. When I first heard you mention his name I thought it couldn’t be the same person. But I just did a google search and found it was the same person, which is interesting.

    The society looks very interesting and for those who don’t know, the website for the society is:

    Do you think you could have Ben Weider on for a guest spot in your podcast series? Maybe he could talk about his research into Napoleon’s death, towards the end of the series. But here’s hoping it doesn’t end.

    Keep up the good work.


  14. Mark McKibbin

    Cameron & David,

    I am new to this and thought I would be listening to music on my ipod, after spending every spare moment catching up to the present on your show I just can’t get enough. Great job and don’t worry about the time as its so refreshing listening to a show the doesn’t have to fit into a time slot.

    Thanks Again


  15. Paul Charnley


    I have just listened to your podcast, for the first time, and found it very interesting. I spend most of my time on the Napoleon Series website, which is where I saw your posting. I have read some of David’s books & enjoyed them (although I disagree with him over Copenhagen). I however have one question with regard to a statement you made on #10. Wars were only due to economics & money, yes that could be – but what about religion?

    best regards
    Paul Charnley

  16. hi Paul, thanks for checking out the show! I think religion as an excuse for war is usually a deception. Then – and now. When the King (or Pope which for a millennia was the same thing) wants to invade another country, it isn’t for religious reasons – it’s because he wanted the land, bounty, ports, taxation revenues, etc. Religion was just a convenient way to convince peasents to march to their death.

    “Sign up to fight the heathens and win eternity in heaven!”

    Today political leaders say things like

    “…they object to our deepest values and our way of life…”

    And I think that’s also a deception to justify invasion for other, more practical, reasons.

    But it’s hard to get people to sign up to get themselves killed in a foreign country by saying

    “Hey a handful of fat, rich, white guys want to be even fatter and richer… so we’re going to send you over to a desert to get yourself shot at… okay?”

  17. J. David Markham

    Hello, everyone! Thanks for all the great comments. Believe me, its always nice to be appreciated.

    Paul, perhaps you can tell me where we disagree on Copenhagen. Glad to hear that you’ve read some of my books (but, of course, you should read ALL of my books! :-))

    As to religion, I somewhat disagree with Cameron. I generally think that more wars have been caused at least in part by religion than by any other reason. Humans just don’t like to let people alone. Now, it is the Islamic radicals, but Christianity has had many moments where people suffered in the name of religion. either in war or in something like the Inquisition. That said, Cameron is right when he suggests that there are often other causes. The Crusades were hardly only about religion. Not sure about the Inquisition, though. And Bush’s invasion of Iraq wasn’t about religion, but I’m not sure it was about practical things, either. For fair warning, see my last comment below! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I also strongly disagree with Cameron on one point (though I sure appreciate the comment. He is also very well versed in Napoleonic history and can hold his own in any conversation on the topic. Its the two of us together that makes this a real pleasure to hear, I imagine.

    By the way, for those of you who simply cannot stand to wait for our next episode, the Dahesh Museum should have my brief podcast on the Egyptian campaign up and running soon. I say brief. It will come as no surprise to anyone that we planned to do 10 minutes of me holding forth on the subject, and my record time was 18.5! As I always warn people: Don’t get me started!

    Best to one and all,


  18. Paul Charnley

    Hi Cameron

    Yes, I see where you are coming from, but I must admit I still disagree. True, many wars were started primeraly under the name of religion – but we know it was truely for financial & economic gain. Equally, many wars were started of pure religeous purposes (the crusades etc.), that resulted in gains in many forms. I guess we will have to agree to differ.

    with best regards

  19. Paul, this is what Wikipedia has to say about the First Crusade:

    The immediate cause of the First Crusade was Alexius I’s appeal to Pope Urban II for mercenaries to help him resist Muslim advances into territory of the Byzantine Empire. In 1071, at the Battle of Manzikert, the Byzantine Empire had been defeated, and this defeat led to the loss of all but the coastlands of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Although the East-West Schism was brewing between the Catholic Western church and the Greek Orthodox Eastern church, Alexius I expected some help from a fellow Christian. However, the response was much larger, and less helpful, than Alexius I desired, as the Pope called for a large invasion force to not merely defend the Byzantine Empire but also retake Jerusalem.

    So the Muslim armies were capturing land for the usual reasons (mostly economic, although I’m sure they had faith-based justifications for their advancements as well) and the Christian king Alexius I wanted to keep control of the land. The “religious war” that came from it was an attempt by the Christian Kings and the Pope to re-capture land taken from them by the Muslims. While they shrouded their battle in religious fervour, I’m pretty sure there were other underlying reasons.

    But hey, I wasn’t there, so I’m just guessing. My theory on human behaviour is pretty simple and is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Deficiency needs and growth needs.

  20. J. David Markham

    Hello again, friends.

    It is difficult to determine a single or even a couple of causes for the Crusades. I’ve always felt that the pope wanted to put an end to the wars in Europe, and how better than to send all the young fighting men off on a holy crusade. But as bad as they were, the crusades did open up new vistas to Europe, including new fabrics and foods, a greater interest in turism and a broader world view. In the long term it led to new trade routes, etc. Life goes on.

    For the two or three of you who are interested, my Dahesh podcast is now up and running:



  21. My favourite anecdote about the Crusades I learned on my trip to Umbria a few years ago.

    The story goes that it was during the early Crusades that Fibonacci learned of Indo-Arabic numerals which he carried back to Pisa. The early adoption of this superior system of mathematical symbols by merchants in Pisa and Florence allowed them to calculate faster and, therefore, become more successful as traders and bankers. This, in turn, helped Pisa and Florence become mighty powers in Europe, threatened the Church’s territorial hold, and, through their patronage of the artists and scientists, brought about the Renaissance, which further weakened the Church’s hold on the people.

    So by marching into Arabic lands, the Church indirectly brought about its own undoing. A nice irony.

    Unfortunately I have since learned the story, like most good ones, it apocryphal. Fibonacci didn’t learn Indo-Arabic numerals during the Crusades. He learned them while working with his father in Algeria. Ah well. I still like the story. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Dominique Contant

    Great show. As I said in another message the pronunciation of both is so excellent that even someone not very confindent with the english linguage could follow ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. J. David Markham

    Bonjour, mon ami Dominique!

    I am glad to hear that you are still listening to us. It is interesting that you like our pronunciation. Cameron has what to me is a very strong Australian accent, and I have an American accent (whatever that is) with at least a hint of southern drawl. So you do get a nice mixture with us!

    As to Cameron’s story, it is a shame it isn’t completely true, as it certainly does touch on a major reality, namely that Florence and Pisa were well situated to take advantage of the trade that developed after the crusades. The irony is still there, Cameron, as the crusades led to trade which led to an enlightened approach and a world view, which led to the Renaissance which, though spiritual in nature to some extent, led to greater secular thought and a weakening of the church. That may be a bit simple, but it does get to the basic idea of what happened.

    My best to one and all,


  24. Bob Probst

    It seems that I must be the latecomer to Napoleon.

    It was just a few months ago that I was pursuing one of my many hobbies and playing the boardgame “Age of Napoleon” by Renaud Verlaque. I was fascinated by the sense of history that he breathed into the game but was horribly embarrassed to find that I knew absolutely nothing about all the generals and battles he referenced. A casual trip to Wikipedia a few days later left me breathless with wonder over this exciting period in history which I was incredibly ignorant about! I promptly set about rectifying the situation and found my way to this podcast.

    No other source I’ve found has provided the lively discourse and insightful overview of the period, the man and the general. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed your shows and how I look forward to the next!

    David, once I finish working through my newly acquired copy of James Chandler’s Campaigns.., I’ll need to read some of your material — can you suggest a good place to start?


  25. Bob, thanks for your comments! I’m very excited that we’ve got this opportunity to share our passion and knowledge about Napoleon for people new to the story!

  26. J. David Markham

    Hi, Bob,

    I’m delighted to hear of how we have helped spark your interest (but be a bit careful of Wikipedia, which is not always the best source of sound information). On the other hand, I can certainly recommend that you start with Napoleon for Dummies which, despite its title, is not in the least for dummies. I think it is the best book possible for those who may only read one book on the subject. On the other hand, if you prefer lots of footnotes, try Napoleon’s Road to Glory.

    Best to all,


  27. Hey guys, I have really enjoyed the podcasts so far and hope you keep it up. I do wish, though, that you would leave modern politics alone. For the last several episodes, you keep bringing up your own political views on current events. I really don’t care. If I did, I would probably find a podcast about it. I just want to listen to you guys talk Napoleon.

  28. Andy, fair point. My fault entirely. I do, however, think it is sometimes relevant to compare Napoleonic political and military tactics to similar political tactics from other time periods, both historic and contemporary. Helps put it in perspective.

  29. J. David Markham

    Hi, Andy,

    Thanks for your posting. I worried a bit about Cameron and I getting in our digs on the current situation. Obviously, that runs the risk of upsetting someone who disagrees with our point of view. I apologize if anything I said offended you. But as an educator, I always believe that it is important to make the past relevant to the present. There are relevant comparisons to be made. Still, I’ll make an effort to be less obvious regarding my opinions of certain leaders and policies and try to make the connections more direct and academic. And I think you’ll agree, 99% of what we do is strictly Napoleon!

    As to keeping it up, you couldn’t stop us! Not even with a preemptive strike! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    My best to you and all our listeners!


  30. Mike

    Mainly to say really enjoying the show.
    When (if?) you get to do the Napoleonic film podcast ,please can you include a little about his influences on literature (e.g. George Bernard Shaw) ?

  31. Tim

    I appreciate the time and effort spent on this podcast–I’ve never known much about Napoleon, and this is a fantastic introduction.

    I know the series has already ended, but I found the political references quite distracting. I hope future podcasts will stay on topic.

  32. Cameron

    Tim, glad you enjoyed the show. The political references are here to stay. This is, after all, a show about politics. We should learn from the past.

  33. Joel Bridge

    been listen to your series for last to day, and it 2012, so I am miss good event going on right now.

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