Well…. here we are folks. The end of the chronological part of our story. It’s been two-and-a-half years in the making. Sometimes I never thought we’d get here. In many ways, I wish we hadn’t. But it had to happen – and so – on today’s episode, the Emperor – dies.
We discuss his last two years on St Helena, without a decent doctor to attend to his increasing illness – which, of course, we believe to be symptoms of arsenic poisoning – his death and then his subsequent return to Paris, many years later.
With the end of our chronological story, we might take a rest. Fear not, however – the show isn’t over yet. We’ll be back to do some epiloguecasts, fulfilling some of the requests you’ve made over the last couple of years for us to drill down into some of the other characters in this most amazing story.
Can I ask one more time for you to go into iTunes and vote for the show and leave a comment about how much you enjoy it? CLICK HERE to open up our page in the iTunes store.
On behalf of David and myself, I want to sincerely THANK YOU ALL for going on this journey with us over the last couple of years. It’s been a highlight of my podcasting career to be able to produce this for you. Of course I need to thank the one and only J. David Markham for giving us all so much of his time and knowledge freely and willingly over these last couple of years. I really do believe he has not only taken us all on a wonderful journey, but has also left a benchmark in podcasting and education.
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Vive l’Empereur indeed. a very poignant end to the chronological story.
Cameron/David, I’m wondering if either of you have read Thackeray’s ‘The Second Funeral of Napoleon’ it’s not so much of a novel as it is a letter describing the return to France of Napoleon’s remains. if anyone is interested, it’s in various places over the internet, project gutenberg has it I believe. One thing to note is that in his travels in his youth that Thackeray actually stopped over in St Helena and Napoleon was pointed out to him, probably along with some story that he ate small children for breakfast. And also to let everyone know that the movie Monsieur N which has two extremely poignant scenes- one at the start where the coffin is exhumed and opened and another in the middle of the film where it depicts the arrival of the funeral procession into the courtyard at Les Invalides.
and I’d also like to give a big shout out to David and Cameron for this series. Way back in episode 1 or so, Cameron said that he was bought up in a commonwealth country, and told that Napoleon was a baddie dictator warmonger. I got the same thing here in New Zealand. Cameron’s eyes were opened when he read Cronin’s Napoleon, and this podcast has opened my eyes to what has now become one of my greatest passions. my sincere thanks go out to you, and i’m sure i’m not alone in that. thanks for a great series. long let it continue
This last series of podcasts were excellent and thank you both Cameron and David for getting them out. I think as do most people that this is one of the saddest stories ever told in history. David tells the story so well and the last page from his book that he read was moving.
If you two are looking for any ideas on what to do afterwards, could I suggest that you do the Napoleon and Lewis and Clark one that David suggested in the middle of the podcast series. I live in Vancouver, Wa and I think that it would be an interesting listen. Do you think in the distant future you will do one on Napoleon II and the III? Thanks for the podcast
Like a lot of people, I stumbled into the Napoleon Show part of the way through, and had to go back and work my way forward again. Like a lot of people, I have loved every goshdarn minute of it, and like a lot of people, I have extremely mixed emotions upon reaching the end of the series. Satisfied to have completed the journey, but sad that we have, in some sense, completed it. I am tempted, of course, to rush right to my computer, download them all again, and start again from episode one, and I just may do that.
The Napoleon Show has seen me through good times and bad, and reminded me that I’m not the only one who has struggled, at times, to make people understand that I mean well.
Congratulations on reaching the end of this road, and thank you for making it such a joyous one. Cheers.
Messieurs, hoist one for me!
The sadness of the end of the great man’s life is offset at least somewhat by the news that TPN lives on! I like David’s suggestion to do a segment on the experience of prisoners. It sounds like a fascinating and little examined subject. I’d also be interested in hearing a bit more about how Napoleon and the other rulers were able to keep rebuilding armies after large losses while also keeping the economic and agrticultural gears turning given the increasingly limited manpower. For example, did women begin performing tasks previously seen as the domain of men a la Rosie the Riveter in WW2?
What an absolutely excellent series, thoroughly enjoyed it and congratulations to both of you. We Brits of a certain age were fed a history that mainly demonised Napoleon, and its been refreshing to get into the nitty gritty and realise that despite the faults any great person in history must surely have, Napoleon seemed to have an inherent decency about him, and it was with a sense of shame i listened to the way he was treated at the end by certain members, albeit of a certain class of my countrymen,. I’m still proud of Wellington at Waterloo and the British that fought under such hardships in the penninsula war…I hear a rumour that you both are doing a similar thing with Caesar…looking forward to that….even Cameron will have a job pinning that one on the Brits!!!…no doubt Brutus will come from a small village in Oxfordshire!…joking apart…thanks for a superb series
Well what a journey, this podcast has changed my life, (no joke) it has awakened my interest in History and opened my eyes to one of the most interesting figures in History. After joining the podcast about a year and a half ago I was inspired to continue my studies and went back to Uni to finish my degree I started ten years ago.
Thank you to David and Cameron this podcast has got me through boring days at work, long car journeys and sleepless nights. I finished listening to the last episode today at work and had to stop a moment whilst David was reading his epilouge. I could feel myself getting emotional and had to leave the lab for a moment.
Thanks guys and continue the work in whatever format you like. Personally I think a late night television show co hosted by you disscusing history, films, politics and cooking would go down a treat.
From a Brit with a France in his heart I salute you.
Yes thanks for this episode – the most moving of them all. We have got to know Napoleon so well over the last 2 and a half years that you can’t help but get caught up with the emotion.
I did restart the series, as threatened.
One thing that strikes me (now on Episode Two, second time through) is that both David and Cameron make it clear that this will be a FIFTEEN episode series.
(Howls of derisive laughter, Bruce!)
Thanks, everyone, for the kind feedback so far.
Michael – yes, fifteen! That was the original plan I gave to David! Of course that was before I knew him very well and realized how…. GENEROUS… he is with his storytelling. 🙂
I have been on board since episode 1, and remember the fifteen episode suggestion as well. Wasn’t the whole programme on the website somewhere with titles at one point? At the time I thought, well I hope they manage to stick with it for the whole fifteen. It would be a shame if the project petered out half way through like a lot of these things do.
I am glad it didn’t!
Hey guys, I only started listening to the podcast a few weeks ago (I’m only on episode 15) and I have to say that you two have put up the best podcast that I’ve ever listened to, that’s including the video podcasts, podiobooks & such. I really didn’t know much about Napoleon before I started listening, just the typical stereotypes that everyone is aware of. But man, there is so much about this guy that is just amazing! And I’ve still got 30 episodes to go through! It sure has made work alot easier when I can just put my earbuds in and listen to you guys talk about Napoleon all day! The back-and-forth banter between you two is awesome! Maybe it’s your tone, or just your sheer volume of knowledge, but your friendly mannerisms make me feel like I’m sitting down with two old friends everytime I listen. It’s been amazing so far, and I’m excited at the prospect of the 30 episodes I still get to listen to!
Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Of course what you guys have that’s special is the banter between you. There are several solid history podcasts out there that consist of one guy talking. A few do it well. Dan Carlin does great but he puts a tonne of work into getting his performance and script right. But most monologues are a bit dry.
If you plan to do Caesar, that’ll be great.
The infamous “History of Rome” podcast has evaporated just at the point where Caesar is a child. Argh. Just when it’s getting to the most famous bit of the story. So if you dear folks can fill in the next piece of the puzzle, I will be so happy.
Well, an unfortunate but expected end to the tale. I doubt that anyone could have imagined the fate of Napoleon’s last weeks. Nor did I expect two casts so close together, though I suspect it was a bit of pulling the bandages off quickly; these weren’t the most uplifting of the series (though of course remained as interesting- perhaps more so due to the topic).
I would be interested in a show examining the various theories clouding around his death. My initial response to theories of murder is skepticism, since it seems that any famous person who dies is thought to have been murdered by a grand conspiracy, since it is hard to imagine so pedestrian a death as stomach cancer. I always take with a grain of salt certain theories that seem to be built around a desired conclusion rather than choosing the most simple outcome based on the evidence. When you see hoofprints, you don’t think zebra. Then again, you might think zebra if you’re in Africa… and there were quite a few people who wished Napoleon harm.
In any case, I will be interested to start seeing what further podcasts might look like. In this one, there seem to be two defining elements: focus, and interplay. The first is easy for a huge series of podcasts on one man and his legacy, but will obviously not be as evident in single topic podcast episodes. I wonder, then, whether the interplay between you two will also change. In the Napoleon podcast there is a sense that David is being guided (gently prodded) through a lecture by Cameron, perhaps due to his experience (though both obviously know their stuff with regards to Napoleon). Will this change when the topics shift towards areas that neither man has written multiple books about?
I can only say I fully agree with all the good reviews above and also admit that I am a bit sad now that a very important period in my life is coming to an end with this podcast.
It has changed my view on Napoleon, European politics history, European contemporary politics, my view on the two world wars, my view on history as such and a whole heap of other important and less important things in my life.
It has also inspired me to start a project that might end up being some of the biggest undertaking I’ve ever embarked on except for my children’s upbringing.
I have actually started and now finished first episode (22 pages in full colour)of a drawn epic about Napoleon and European politics in his lifetime, a so called graphic novel.
I plan to draw/produce thirty two! more in the years to come, if I am lucky enough to keep my life and my health for that long.
Animated and narrated videos will also be produced of each episode by an Australian friend of mine.
Non of this would have taken place if it wasn’t for this fantastic podcast.
Both David and Cameron has agreed to function as consultants of the series, to make sure we stay within the historically correct framework…
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again…Thank you so very much to both of you.
The final chronological episode was a truly moving experience. I was nearly in tears at David’s final reading. Thank you, thank you both for such a fine job. As you have said about Napoleon on St. Helena, “He deserved much better.” And you, gentleman, have done a presentation that befits a legend. What would Napoleon do? Good question, I am sure he would march up to you both and give you such a tweak on the ear that you would have cried. But I am sure that you would not have minded.
I have read dozens of memoirs about Napoleon by Constant, Marchand, O’Meara, Las Cases, Bertrand, etc. and grew to admire and respect him. But it was not until I read “To Befriend an Emperor” by Betsy Balcombe that I first saw the humanity in him. A man that had risen so high and then fallen so low makes the story of Napoleon a tragic epic that could never be forgotten. But, at his low point on St. Helena, being able to still “goof off” with the children and endure/enjoy their antics shows, at least to me, how he was always a man of emotion, not a heartless calculating monster that some historians would want you to believe. I had lent the book to some friends and the responses always were, “I had no idea.” And if your podcast could shift the opinion of much of the English-taught world of who Napoleon really was and his contribution to the modern world, then it would right a long-standing wrong.
Again, many thanks and I eagerly look forward to the future episodes.
Thanks folks. Your feedback is much appreciated. Edna, I agree with your statements about Betsy’s book. When I first read it, it had the same effect on me. How could this man be the same man who is supposed to have been a brutal dictator (according to English propaganda)? It isn’t possible. Kind of the same thing when you read Che Guevara’s “Motorcycle Diaries” and then compare it to the man portrayed by US propaganda. It’s impossible for them to be the same man.
A series packed with humour, facts, insights, and passion.
One of the best podcast series I have come across.
Vive l’Empereur !
I’m an Austrian, my wife is French (I can assure you, that’s a terrific combination!), and we are sending greetings from +/- 10 km north of Waterloo, where we live (I’m a former Austrian diplomat now working for the European Commission in Brussels). I am a big fan of your show and enjoyed each episode. I usually listen to the podcast when doing my jogging and at the time of the Waterloo episodes last winter I listened to them running over the battlefield…
I very much welcome that you continue with the series even after the end of the chronological part and have two suggestions on interesting subjects to cover: Why not putting the whole period in perspective and discuss 1) the French revolution which created a dynamics without which Napoleon would not have risen to what he was and 2) the Congress of Vienna and the post-napoleonic world (or should I say European – butthat was the same thing at that time) order. The “entrevue d’Erfurt” in 2008 and its political context would also be quite interesting (and Talleyrand, for example, has written quite extensively about it in his memoirs) – maybe a bit too specific.
Whatever you’ll come up with, I’m sure it will be interesting and entertaining. I’ll keep listening in any event.
Bizarrely enough, business took me to Belgium just after the Waterloo podcast came out and I seriously considered listening to it on the field itself. Unfortunately I wasn’t in control of my timetable and I couldn’t fit it in in the event. It would have been funny if we had passed each other listening to the same podcast oblivious to one another!
You didn’t really miss anything, Waterloo isn’t very impressive – and no good place for running. There are much better Napoleonic sites in Europe. The only interesting thing is that you get a sense of distances and, looking from the South towards the “Butte du Lion”, you understand why it made sense for Wellington’s men to lie down. You can also see the Hougemont and other farms and Napolean’s Headquarter, but as I said – unimpressive.
Let me bother you with another idea for the show (you won’t be surprised to hear that from an Austrian): why don’t you do something about Metternich? If I’m not mistaken, Metternich doesn’t have a very prominent role so far, even though he was quite an important figure in the whole story (not just because he had an affair with Napoleon’s sister). Would be quite interesting…
Michael, Metternich is definitely on our list of people to cover!
Friends, I am deeply touched by all that has been said. This has been a great run, and I really don’t think its over yet. We will do any number of shows on specific people and issues, so stay tuned!! Again, thanks for all of your support, your emails and posts, and for listening to what we have had to say.
And special kudos to Cameron, without whom none of this would ever have happened. He and I have become great friends, and that will last forever!
Come on you guys, 45 is quarante-cinq, not quartre-cinq! L’Academie Francaise will be in touch for crimes against the French language, I am sure!
Similarly, I should tell you that we Poms who own St. Helena pronounce it as HELEENA, not HELENA. The Queen will be in touch with Mr. Markham.
As a doctor, I was looking forward to you addressing the single most important medical question – why does Napoleon always put his hand inside his coat? I heard many years ago that this was due to having a peptic ulcer – he was holding his stomach. Can you tell us if this is still thought to be the case?
Anyway, apart from these minor niggles, I congratulate you both on a thoroughly entertaining series, which (along with the champagne) kept me sane when I was liivng in Reims.
Hey, by the way, look what I found:
Can anyone vouch for whether the site really looks like this?
I think in one of the earlier episodes it was mentioned that placing one’s hand in a jacket was a normal position- and perhaps would still be, had it not taken on Napoleonic overtones once he was painted in that pose.
Saves on painting a hand too. Hands are tough to get right.
Yes, re the hand in the jacket thing, it’s my understanding that it was a popular pose for portraits in that time. I’ve certainly seen contemporary portraits with the same pose. I think we discussed that in Napoleon #001.
That image was common in the 19th century, when for a time it was illegal to have images of Napoleon. So these were called the Shade of Napoleon, using the outline in the tree as you see it. I have one in my collection. That is a famous willow tree that is on site, but the rest is fantasy.
Sorry for the language goofs. As to the hand, it was a common pose. I’ve seen George Washington in that pose before Napoleon was ever painted! It avoids having to paint the hands.
Thanks alot for the show. I have never before enjoyed a show so much, as I enjoyed this. This is truly the best show ever.
Do you know anything of Denmarks participation in the wars? Offcause there was the battle in 1801 and in 1807 in Copenhagen. What I’m looking for is the strugle i northern Germany. What role did Denmark play?
I don’t know much about Demark in the Napoleonic era. But I do remember that on a long car journey with some friends we were listening to a quiz on the radio. The question was “which country declared war on Austro-Hungaria and Prussia in 1864?”. There were four people on the quiz who tried to answer, guessing countries like France, Russia, Poland and Turkey. After all, they were two powerful countries in the nineteenth century.
We all burst out laughing when the answer, Denmark, was revealed.
What were you guys thinking? I know Denmark was a bit bigger in those days, but even so. Prussia? AND Austria-Hungary? Did you really think you had a chance?
Kudos to David and Cameron. As many others have said, this has been a remarkable series–interesting, informative, compelling–communicated with wit and intelligence by you both. I haven’t been able to bring myself to listen to the last episode (La Mort de Napoleon), so I’ve started again at episode 001 (… maybe by the time I get to #045 you’ll have started “Napoleon Podcast Redux…). The episodes are as fresh and interesting as they were the first time around (the sound quality improved a great deal as the episodes progressed).
As a good colonial subject ;-), I am a fan of Wellington and Nelson, but the podcasts have made me appreciate and admire Napoleon and prompted me to do much more reading on the subject (I look forward to getting David’s new book).
I believe during one broadcast that you had mentioned doing episodes on people who had played a large role in Napoleon’s life (good or bad). Perhaps an episode featuring Talleyrand and others– a rogue’s gallery of sorts–who betrayed Napoleon (boo hiss…)… if David can stand it???
Steen, Wikipedia has the following:
In the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark originally tried to pursue a policy of neutrality to continue the lucrative trade with both France and the United Kingdom and joined the League of Armed Neutrality with Russia, Sweden and Prussia. The British considered this a hostile act and attacked Copenhagen in both 1801 and 1807, in one case carrying off the Danish fleet, in the other, burning large parts of the Danish capital. These events mark the end of the prosperous Florissant Age and resulted in the Dano-British Gunboat War. British control over the waterways between Denmark and Norway proved disastrous to the union’s economy and in 1813, Denmark-Norway went bankrupt. The post-Napoleonic Congress of Vienna demanded the dissolution of the Dano-Norwegian union, and this was confirmed by the Treaty of Kiel in 1814.
Alexandra, thanks for the kind words. Yes, we definitely intend to do some shows on major characters. We’ll probably record the first one in in a couple of weeks when I visit David in Seattle!
Yes we are crazy here in Denmark :-).
In 1849 the Slesvig Holstein’s wantet independence from Denmark. That resultet in an uprise, that in the war 49-51, was crushed.
The Danish goverment was acknowlege as the ruler of the two duchy’s, but had to promise the international society, that the two duchy’s was to be part of the Danish Kingdom, but not to be under the Danish Constitution.
But changes in the power, meant that the National liberalist came to power. And they wantet the two duchy’s to be full member of the Kingdom.
That wasn’t something the germans in Slesvig and Holstein wantet, so they revoltet again.
And this time they where backed by Prussia and Austria Hungary. The Danes had hoped for support from the English and Swedes, but that wasn’t happening.
So war broke out.
I can recommendt a book by Tom Buk-Swienty, called “Slagtebaenk Dyboel”, in english it would be “Butchers bench Dyboel”.
It’s letters from people who participatet in the battle, that he had put together. One member of the new established Red Cross, privates and officers of the two sides, a brittish correspondent some politician etc.
All in all, we made many big mistakes. The country was bad led, The best General where fired, the equiptment where not good enough, the Doctors where to uptight to learn new things from the Red Cross member, and the Prussian where just better and to many.
1) Technically, you cannot really speak of Austria-Hungary before 1867. While it is of course true that Hungary was ruled by the Habsburgs, this was initially the only link with the other Austrian entities. This situation changes gradually in the second half of the 18th century, under the reforms of Maria Theresia and Joseph II. But until 1804, the name “Austria” still refers to the dynasty rather than to a country/territory. Only under Francis II/I in 1804 – and this development is directly linked to Napoleon – the “Austrian Empire” becomes the name of the territories ruled by the Emperor. This does in principle include Hungary, although the imperial powers in Hungary remain somewhat more restricted than in other parts of the Empire. Only in 1867, after the Austrian defeat in KÃ¶niggrÃ¤tz, Hungary becomes a more or less independent entity and from there on we refer to the “k. und k.” – i.e. the imperial (Austria or, more precisely, Cisleithania) and royal (Hungary) monarchy or Austria-Hungary.
2) The events described above by Steen Lindholt Hansen are not only important for Denmark, but for the geopolitical situation in Europe as a whole. The administration of Schleswig and Holstein are the pretext (the real issue being of course leadership in Germany) for the Austro-Prussian war in 1866, leading to the Austrian defeat in KÃ¶niggrÃ¤tz. This defeat had far-reaching consequences for Austria, as it established Prussian primacy in Germany (until then, Austria was the leading power in the German Confederation) and subsequently led to the creation of the German Empire 1871 (under the exclusion of Austria).
prior to one year ago i had always opted to live not more than 5 minutes walk from work. i beleive that this is quite a common practice in europe however not so common in australia. 1 year ago i had a carreer change and now spend a lot of time travelling. Anyhow thanks guys as for one year now i have been listening to your show and every day i spend at least two hours travelling. Never haave i been concerned about shows running too long if anything too short. You have kind of converted me to a history buff of sorts and the first questions that come to mind during your show is 1) what must it have been like for a regular soldier serving under N what was his life expectancy ?and 2) what was going on in the rest of the world whilst all this euro stuff was going on?
anyhow thanks lads really apperciate the show and looking forward to your next historical focus
I’d like to add my thanks to David and Cameron for this Podcast, the best I’ve listened to and it has also re-awakened my interest in the period which I had years ago as a teenager.
One aspect I find fascinating is the parallels with Hitler (I know this is not a popular link), but what is interesting is that in the same way as an Austrian in Hitler became the most famous German leader a Corsican-Italian speaker called Napoleone di Buonaparte became the most famous Frenchman!
Itâ€™s as is if an â€˜outsiderâ€™ sees and takes on the energy of a nation that they adopt, Iâ€™m sure this pattern must have happened elsewhere in history.
Britain can thank it geographical status as an island for keeping Napoleon at bay and keeping the status quo that they wanted within Europe and its trading linksâ€¦.that and having leaders like Nelson, Wellington and Moore who though not of the same level of genius as Napoleon were close enough to help hold him eventually in checkâ€¦!
Cheers – Dom
Ben Weider, noted Napoleonic scholar and collector passed away Oct. 17 2008. It is a sad day for Napoleonic afficiandos as Mr. Weider was a great contributor to Napoleonic studies.
Mr. Weider recently donated his vast collection of Napoleonic memorabilia to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Thanks for the geopolitical background Michael. I’d still love to have seen the Danish war plan.
Colin, I’m not sure whether you are referring to the war in ’64 or to the Napoleonic period. I’m not an expert on either, but let me try on to the latter.
The duchies of Schleswig and Holstein were historically linked to Denmark through the King of Denmark. But they weren’t part of Denmark and Holstein was even part of the Holy Roman Empire and later the German Confederation. And as Steen writes above, the King of Denmark had committed to preserve Schleswig and Holstein as independent duchies.
When he breached that commitment, the Prussians were pressing for “Bundesexekution”, which means action by the German Confederation against one of its Members breaching the Act of Confederation (technically, it was action of the German Confederation against the King of Denmark). The Austrians joined in (maybe a political mistake?) and the outcome was entirely predictable.
I think Denmark didn’t really have a “war plan” and didn’t declare war in the sense that it attacked the other powers; its position was purely defensive and the direct consequence of their integrating Schleswig and Holstein under the Danish Constitution.
I hope that’s what you were looking for (if you need more on battlefield action etc., I’d have to pass). And what I wanted to say when trying to put the issue in perspective was that while the 1864 conflict was certainly important for Denmark, what followed changed the dynamics of the whole continent.
Some (hopefully) interesting stats.
In 1801 the population of France was 29,361,000.
Between 1800 and 1815 France called up 1,600,000 men to arms with only 600,000 surviving of that huge number.
The borders of French ‘influence’ spread from Portugal to Moscow and even Cairo, only for in 1816 these borders to be back to where the natural linguistic borders had started (France for the French, Spain for the Spanish, Portugal for the Portuguese…)….makes you wonder what it was all for!
An amazing life and adventure for Napoleon(his Marshals and family) but at what cost….?
Cheers – Dom
Good points Dom. Napoleon’s career was amazing and as this podcasts show a fascinating story. But not one you would chose to live through yourself. The damage to France was probably the greatest, though Holland did pretty badly and the Poles suffered as well. Italy probably had a net benefit and Great Britain probably ended up with a larger empire as a result of both France and Holland being out for the count. Mind you, I am a UK taxpayer and in some senses we are STILL paying for the Napoleonic wars since we have had a national debt continually since that period.
Overall Napoleon’s effects were dismal for nearly everyone who came into contact with him as either a friend or an enemy. But as I said, a cracking story.
Dear Cameron and David,
Over the past couple of months you have been accompanying on my ipod, going to and from work on the train each day. I have thoroughly enjoyed the Napoleon podcast from the start and all the way up to Napeolon’s death. I find it amazing that you have devoted so much of your personal time to produce something that can be enjoyed by thousands of people worldwide. I wish you both all the best in your future pursuits. May your ‘medication’ bring you good health for many years to come.