Do We Have A Bias?

You bet! We are fans of Napoleon. No doubt about it.
I think you’ll find our opinions on the show are just that – opinions! We have never claimed to be bias free. This ain’t the BBC. 🙂

One of my objectives when I started the series was to promote the case FOR Napoleon, as I believe that the “history” of Napoleon that most of us were taught, especially if you were educated in “The Commonwealth”, was extremely biased towards the negative. It has been said that “history is written by the victor” and that was definitely true in Napoleon’s case. For many years after his downfall, except for a brief interlude during the Second Empire, it was nearly impossible to write positively about him even in France, let alone England or other European countries. If we are slightly biased FOR the man, all we are doing is balancing up the scales!

That said, we do try our best to examine, in the time that we have each episode, the case for and against. David is a very well respected Napoleonic historian and author and he takes this responsibility extremely seriously. I, on the other hand, am just an enthusiast who wants to better understand who Napoleon was. In every episode I try to make sure I get a chance to ask David about the various criticisms of Napoleon that have been put forward and David always gives his honest perspective on what really happened, based on the current historical documents available combined with a deep understanding of the time and circumstances Napoleon was operating under. It is a huge mistake to take 21st century morals and perspectives on democracy and individual rights and then suggest that Napoleon should or could have lived up to ALL of them in late 18th century France. It’s critical to understand the critical condition France was in after the Revolution and the challenges Napoleon faced by constantly having to fight off the other European powers who were determined, for various reasons, to see the Bourbons re-established on the French throne.
As David and I have pointed out time and time again, France was fighting these wars long BEFORE Napoleon ever came to power in France and although he signed lots of peace treaties in his time in power, he rarely, if ever, broke one. So although Napoleon may not have been totally innocent of fault, the blame for the “Napoleonic Wars” needs to be shouldered by the parties truly responsible.
My goal with this present series is to introduce people to Napoleonic history, not present you with a set of ready-made opinions for or against. Hopefully you will listen to this series and be inspired, as I know many of you already have been, to go out and buy a few books on the guy (especially those written by a certain J. David Markham). Then you will all, of course, make up your own mind about who he was and whether or not what he tried to do was positive or negative. Or perhaps a little bit of both.

#16 – Eylau, Poland and Maria Walewska

After Napoleon completely crushed the Prussians at Jena-Auerstedt, Europe was in shock. Back home in Paris, some were concerned that Napoleon’s continued success might blind him to opportunities for peace. Meanwhile, Russia’s Czar Alexander had his armies advance on Warsaw, forcing Napoleon to march to meet them. Early in 1807, he fought an extremely bloody but inconclusive battle at Eylau. He also spent time in Warsaw with the other great love of his life – the very young Maria Walewska.

By the way, I screwed up the audio on this show yet again. I think my mic was up too high, picking up too much background noise and making it difficult to raise David’s audio without the background buzz coming up as well. I’ll try hard to get improve it before the next episode!


Mystery of Napoleon’s Death Said Solved

A friend sent me this link to Yahoo News this morning. It seems that every year there is a new story from a research group somewhere saying they have the definitive answer on what Napoleon died from. As most of you will already know, David’s good friend Ben Weider co-authored a book, The Murder Of Napoleon, with Sten Forshufvud several years ago which put forward evidence to support the theory that Napoleon was murdered with arsenic by someone in his household on St Helena. Now a new study published in Nature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology and Hepatology has concluded that stomach cancer was the cause of death.

Personally I doubt the veracity of the autopsy done at the time of his death and don’t think we’ll have a definitive answer until the French Government allow his corpse to be exhumed from Les Invalides for a modern autopsy.

Music of the Napoleonic Era

I discovered this album by accident this morning. It’s a shame more of these tracks aren’t available for download or I’d start putting them into the show. You can listen to short previews of each track though and download the one below for free. Click on the album art for more information.

Download “Divertimento In B Flat Major K 229 No. 2” (mp3)
from “Music of the Napoleonic Era”
by Capella Ensemble
Inside Sounds

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