February 1, 2008 cameron

#36 (Video) – The End Of The Empire

Welcome to a very special edition of the Napoleon podcast – now with added video!

When David and I were recording the latest episode of the show yesterday I sprung on him the idea of capturing the video of our skype chat and putting that up as an added version of the show. My smiling mug is missing from this video (I forgot to check “capture picture-in-picture”) but that just means David takes up more of the screen. 🙂

Comments (31)

  1. Luís

    The credits at the end are funny, but Cameron is not just a button pusher, although Markham is definitely “the Guru” 🙂

    The library and the whole environment where David Markham records are far beyond what I imagined… congratulations to you Sir: what a gorgeous environment. If Napoleon came to life again, I would recommend him to spend much time there.

    I got the Video by “copy-pasting” the link that Cameron gave to a listener in the discussion part of the audio version of this episode.

    I have already listened to the audio show in my mp3 player, as usual, but I think I will see the whole video, from beginning to end, because it brings a different and complementary experience.

    So, here is my opinion: having both audio and video versions of the show is very appreciated.

    Thank you very much.

    P.S. In a past show I mentioned that my granny, who doesn’t know who Napoleon was for sure, still remembers her granny (who probably heard from his mother or grandmother) talking about the time “the French” passed for their village. Because I then had a period of harder work I didn’t answer to a listener of the show (I think it was Colin), about his commentary, and I am now giving the bit of extra information I know:

    My granny recalls listening to a story of French soldiers entering on the homes all over the village. Almost everybody hide, but a very old woman was unable to leave her bed. In order to escape any abuse or violence from the soldiers, she shouted: “do not make me any harm: I have leper!”

    I know it’s not a formidable story, but even if it was invented, it is very old, and even its invention is revealing of the importance of the presence of the Napoleonic forces in Portugal, 200 years ago.

    And if it is not invented, it’s live history coming to me, from oral tradition… and I find that plausible hypothesis a very entertaining and amazing one…

    Best regards to you all, my friends.

  2. Luís,

    Thanks for watching and for the nice comments, especially on my library. I moved the camera too fast. Next time I’ll slow it down and explain a little, if people are interested. I am blessed, though, to get to do my work in such a place.

    Your story is fascinating and very plausible. I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute!

    As to the captions, I loved them but Cameron is no button pusher and most folks would question whether or not I am a ‘right honorable!’ 😉


  3. It was good to see the video. Interestingly, now I have seen O senhor Markham speeking on video I find it easier to understand him listening to the podcasts. I am not saying that he is not easy to understand: he speaks very clearly and fluently – just that when you have a mental picture of his facial expressions and the way he moves you can pick up more. Especially the humour. So thanks for doing the video, it has enhanced the whole experience to a surprising degree.

    Thanks again for sharing your story Luis. I am afraid I don’t know Portuguese history very well. Like most people in England I know precisely three facts about Portugal. They made lots of navigational discoveries under a king called Henry the Navigator leading to a period of spectacular wealth. There was an earthquake in Lisbon. Napoleon was unable to conquer them. I am sure there is much more to it and I must find out more. But am I right in thinking that the French are the only people who have ever invaded Portugal?

  4. Luis


    The French invaded, helped by Spain.

    Spain tried to absorb Portugal between 1580-1640, but we regain our Independence (not without a struggle and thanks in part to another People that kept the Spanish entertained and was not so lucky: the Catalans; Spain couldn’t fight in two fronts, and Portugal regained it’s independence, while Catalonia remained under Spanish domain, until today).

    The only territorial dispute we have today is about “Olivença”, a village that was lost during the Napoleonic campaigns and that Spain promised to return to Portugal (at the Vienna Congress); that promise was never accomplished.

    From Wikipedia one can read a true fact:

    “In 1373, Portugal made an alliance with England, which is the longest-standing alliance in the world.” (Portugal entry, History section)

    But the truth is that after the English helped us expelling the French, they tried to stay in control and take advantage of the territory, long after the French were gone, and that caused the population to rebel.

    All that said, the past is the past.

    Today, and due to many historical developments, Spain is seen like a brother that perished from many of the same difficulties we had in our History, and England is seen as an old friend. And thank the Providence for that 🙂


    PS. Someone more versed in History than me can account the facts with more rigour, this is only what I know, but I am glad to share it with you.

  5. Luis

    One more thing, my friends.

    I know Cameron is a convict atheist, from this and other shows at TPN.

    So am I. When I say “thank the Providence” I mean it like a matter of speech

    I am also convinced that religion is delusion and that religious though is dangerous, at the least.

    Many of my friends (and even my wife) are Catholics, and I live along fine with them, but they know my position. I respect everybody that respects the others, and I do not think of myself as more clever for not being religious…

    “God”, so many explanation… I am making a reinstall on my Vista machine, and in the meantime, I pass a bit of time writing this. Thanks for baring with me.


  6. andrew


    I thought it was an interesting and welcome idea to provide a video feed, but unfortunately mine plays out of sync – so the Right Honourable’s lips move in a completely different fashion from his words, making it seem like it is a badly dubbed foreign movie. Hope no-one else had the same problem. I may try to reload to see if it is any better – it may be a fault with my player. I am very envious of his library, by the way!

    Andrew (UK)

  7. andrew

    On the point of the library, by the way, i would really welcome a guided tour of the highlights of the collection – it looks fantastic and could be a video episode by itself – as many of the items must have fascinating stories linked to them by subject matter or period detail, etc

  8. I love your podcast! I’m really looking forward to any future subjects, as you mentioned you might be venturing into Caesar.

    I don’t have any need for the video versions at this time. It would be very helpful, if you’d put the video ones on a separate iTunes RSS feed, so my computer doesn’t automatically load them.


    David Blackburn

  9. Cameron

    Sorry folks, I hadn’t intended for the video to come down in the old feed, that’s why I did the separate post. I’ll try to work out why it did that and stop it.

  10. Greg McP

    Ahh well, both came on down for me. iTunes is pretty thorough that way.

    Next time you do a videocast, you’ve got to point the camera at Cameron now and again. I’m sure poor Right Honourable would be quite happy to share the limelight.

    It’s a shame you didn’t do the video for the Waterloo episodes. You could have had maps with arrows being drawn over, like a football game. Blucher could have gotten his image and stats displayed when he entered the game in the second half.

    If I was a Frenchman with some political power in 1814-1815, I think I would have been on the side against Napoleon. I’d be feeling “That’s Enough, Napoleon’s time is done and he’s only bringing misery to France now.”
    And I’m sort of glad Napoleon finally realized that it’s better to let go than drag it on further. He’s NOT Hitler. He doesn’t have force France to fight for him to the last man.

  11. Trevor Hardcastle

    Hello, thanks for the video, although I will be listening audio in the future mainly because I alwasy mix it with other activities (e.g. biking).

    Dear J. David Markham, what kind of ship is in your library? It looks like HMS Victory.


  12. Nick

    Hi all,

    yet another great podcast, but I think that goes without saying.

    I have one question though, where was Talleyrand during this whole period?
    Had he fled France after Napoleon’s return from Elba? – that probably would have been the smart move on his part. If he was still in France after Waterloo, I can’t imagine that he would have left all the back-stabbing to Fouche. If he was abroad, I’m sure he was up to his old anti-Napoleon tricks, trying to influence events in France, but did he have any impact while abroad, or did he only play a major role after the second abdication?
    man, I hate that guy. and now I’m thinking maybe Fouche should join Talleyrand in Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell.

    anyway, looking forward to the next episode, as always,

    – Nick

  13. Michael

    Has anyone ever seen the movie The Duellists? Albert Finney plays an interesting Fouche near the end of the film…

  14. Hi, guys,

    Yes, Talleyrand was in Vienna and eventually went to Belgium to join the king.

    The ship is the Napoleon from 1840. Some person in Thailand was making these a few years ago.

    I, too, wish we had done video earlier, but we didn’t know it would work. And, to some extent, I don’t know why you want to just look at our mugs talking. But I will try to show more artifacts and maybe a little slower tour of the library and elsewhere.

    Another shameless book plug. History Revisited: The Great Battles is now out. It is a collection of alternative histories, each with an historian writing an analysis of the likelihood of the story ever happening. There are some really good stories. I served as editor and wrote introductory material as well as one of the authors.

    Thanks for all the nice comments!


  15. Shane Dunn

    G’day Cameron & David,
    I have been listening to a few of your programs and hearing your pleas for listeners to briefly introduce themselves and let you know where we’re listening from: I live in Melbourne, Aus, and am a great fan of spoken word programming and the internet with its world-wide reach is a marvel for this. My daily listening being the US NPR current affairs programs (about 12 years ago I lived in the US for a year and became an NPR junkie). My weekly hits required being NPR’s Car Talk, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and Bob Cringely’s “The Pulpit” as well as keeping up with Australia’s Radio National various programs…. Los Angeles Theatre Works is also a favourite (particularly with their recent Science & Relativity Series). Whilst never having formally studied history beyond High School (Science & Engineering being my bent), I am a great fan of the study of history, and podcasts on a range of historical topics are a great joy to me. Whilst I’m only up to the Peace of Amiens in your series, I am finding your presentation of one of history’s most fascinating personalities and periods greatly enjoyable and informative. Please keep banging the drum that those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it…..

    I have only recently stumbled upon this series (via Learnoutload, which I also only recently stumbled upon… but I guess the Web’s like that), and am downloading everything so that I can listen when I’m on the go…. I have noticed that you have included “talking head” type video with episode#36… and here’s my feedback…. please don’t…… I should point out that I’m very much coming from a philosopical position here…. As I mentioned earlier, I am a great fan of the spoken word but that is not to say that I don’t like television/movies. My perspective here being that if video does not add significantly to the information being conveyed… why include it. With television, particularly history programs, there are many programs where the audio content is sufficient and that the only reason they come with video is that television tends to have a wider audience than radio (at least for this sort of programming). That wider audience reach is sufficient justification for television, but for podcasting, it doesn’t make sense and is a waste of bandwidth (this abboherence of waste is the engineer in me coming out and much of my research work is to do with optimisation – so I’ll accept that this is something of a peccadillo of mine). This is analogous to arguments I tend to find myself in where I rail against the current trend to HD broadcast where I keep asking what does it add to the story?. Also, many of the history television programs today (particularly those from the UK) are becoming unwatchable because of the trends towards re-enactments that take up most of the program whilst adding little to the information contenet being conveyed and I’d hate to see podcasting go down that full production route… I know that I’m drawing a very long bow in going from you two guys doing a talking heads piece to donning Napoleonic garb and re-enacting the battle of Marengo, but as I said, I’m taking a philosopical position here.. I appreciate that the episod is available audio only….

    Anyway, that off my chest, I’m really enjoying the fruits of your labour and am very pleased to see that you’ve embarked upon a new endeavour with your program on Alexander.

    All the very best


  16. Hi, Shane,

    I worry a little about the ‘talking heads’ issue as well. But a number of folks have said they like seeing what I look like and that my facial expressions add to their understanding. More importantly, I think, will be the sharing of some artifacts. My swing the camera around the library was done on a whim, but it seems to have been appreciated. I do hope to get the camera relocated (and replaced with a better model) so that I’m looking directly into it. This may also reduce the, ahem, glare.

    That said, I imagine we’ll do a few more of the video casts and then give it some more thought.



  17. andrew

    I work in the UK TV documentary industry and totally agree with the poster – very often, a TV history doc would be far better off as a radio piece, unless it is following a particular, concrete investigation (eg, a long running archaeology series called Time Team) or if there is relevant, interesting contemporaneous archive footage to be shown – but even then the usual suspects (WWII etc) have been done to death. Radio is cheaper, and often more direct and more intimate. Having said that, I think a further video tour of the Markham library and collection would be pretty harmless and very interesting

  18. Stan Goldstein

    Great news that you are launching the Biography series. How does one download the Alexander podcast. I can get the audio on my computer but I can’t get the podcast. Would it be on my iTunes Napoleon file?

  19. I don’t think it is necesary to do many video podcasts – but having a mental picture of the person speaking helps me at least to have a better idea of what they are saying. If that makes any sense….

  20. Frelt

    Assuming it doesn’t take too much button pushing, all these podcasts should probably have slideshows. That is coverart which changes pending on where in the podcast you are, i’ve seen it done in 2 or 3 podcasts (e.g. Harvard Business Review). An appropiate map, painting, or photograph about every 10 minutes would really enrich these podcasts, and would I think invigorate rather than dull the mind while it consumes these shows.

    Video should only be used when there is a benefit to be had from using it, as Shane said. However, I would add that I do not think it is inappropiate to use a videopodcast to show Markham’s artifacts, nor do I think it would be improper to use video to take us on tours of where napoleonic events happened, which is something which I think the imperial duo has dicussed doing. Audio versions should be available for folks like Shane, as well as those of us who can only listen because our eyes are watching traffic, as well as those of us who, like myself, lack Ipods and/or computer monitors with HD capability.

  21. Hey Guys,

    I just finished going through your series after finding it a couple weeks ago. Wow! What an epic journey you took me on, I went from knowing next to nothing about Napoleon to feeling slightly informed on the subject. And from the sounds of it, your not done yet! For those things I can not thank you enough.

    Just one point I want to make: you said in one episode (I believe the invasion of Russia, part I) that Britain was busy fighting America in the War of 1812. This simply was not the case. The US did not declare war until June 18th (and the news would have taken some time to reach England), the invasion of Russia I believe started June 24th. And to that the fact Britain did not send any large force to Canada until after Napoleon was defeated and I feel you overstated the importance of America’s war to this area of history.

    Besides that, awesome show!

  22. Cameron

    Hey James, welcome to the show! Good point about the American War of Independence. Thanks for pointing that out.

  23. Frelt

    Can anyone with the prerequisite knowledge, edit Napoleons legacy section to be impartial? I’ve removed the qoute at the beggining of it which essentially made a bunch of speculative poetically phrased derogatory absolute statements about him, and I have written in the discussion section to defend my action, but I don’t think I am qualified to edit the legacy section generally. It is located:


    There. The whole article needs some revision, and it is obvious that it does. However, an “edit war” ought to be avioded, so alterations should only be made that are very easy to defend. Rather than getting rid of unjust langauge*, it should juxtaposed with plainly relevant and unpretentiously tacked on facts which nuetralize the decieving effect of the misinformation. These edits should seem to come from concerned citizens rather than Napoleon admirers.

  24. I have just read the entry Frelt. It seems pretty balanced to me. And it is a lot more positive than what I was taught at school.

  25. Frelt

    In skimming it,I realize I may been a bit hasty in my judgement of the whole article, but the legacy section formerly started with this unintroduced qoute:

    “He knew no motive but interest; acknowledged no criterion but success; he worshiped no God but ambition; and with an eastern devotion, he knelt at the shrine of his idolotry. Subsidiary to this, there was no creed that he did not profess, there was no opinion that he did not promulgate: In the hope of a dynasty, he upheld the cresent; for the sake of a divorce, he bowed before the cross; the orphan of St. Louis, he became the adopted child of the republic; and with a parricidal ingratitude, on the ruins of both of the thone and the tribune, he reared the throne of his despotism.

    At his touch, crowns crumbled, beggars reigned; systems vanished; the wildest theories took the color of his whim; and all that was venerable, and all that was novel, changed places with the rapidity of a drama. Nature had no obstacle that he did not surmount; space no opposition he did not spurn, and whether amid Apine rocks, Arabian sands, or Polar snows, he seemed proof against peril, and empowered with ubiquity.” (quote from McGuffey’s Fifth Eclectic Reader, revised edition, John Wiley and Sons, page 34)”

    Another part of the legacy section:

    “Napoleon is sometimes alleged to have been in many ways the direct inspiration for later autocrats: he never flinched when facing the prospect of war and death for thousands, friend or foe, and turned his search of undisputed rule into a continuous cycle of conflict throughout Europe, ignoring treaties and conventions alike. Even if other European powers continually offered Napoleon terms that would have restored France’s borders to situations only dreamt by the Bourbon kings, he always refused compromise, and only accepted surrender.”

    The way the Napoleon 101 podcast potrays it, Napoleon was a peace lover. That might be an exageration, but I find tough to believe that the exact opposite is true. Maybe it is, though that point of view seems to conflict with some of the letters i’ve read.

  26. Justin

    Even though it has been almost 2 years since the last post, I wanted to drop a line of appreciation for this great podcast, preserved for posterity on TPN.


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