August 11, 2010 cameron

The Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast #57 – Haiti Pt 3

And once again we are fortunate to have Nicholas Stark back on the show to finish our series on Napoleon and Haiti.

Today we focus on the claims that Napoleon directly ordered atrocities to be committed in Haiti.

Did Napoleon, as Claude Ribbe claims, invent the gas chamber? (We find no evidence for that.)

Did the French troops in Haiti under Generals Leclerc and Rochambeau commit terrible atrocities against the Haitians?

Did the Haitians under Loverture commit atrocities?

I read from Napoleon’s orders to Leclerc and quote a poem from Wordsworth.

And, most importantly, is it true that Rochambeau invented Rock-Paper-Scissors?

Tagged: ,

Comments (49)

  1. Michael

    Thank you all very much for taking my suggestion. When I first encountered this terrible work, I was instantly awash with shock and anger. Logically, I knew it could never be true, yet it filled me with great fear that my hero was, in actuality, a monster. Through my personal research into the primary sources, I discredited the work, but I’m glad to have your show denounce it as well. Hopefully, this will help limit the terrible power of these heinous accusations.

  2. Cameron

    Thank YOU, Michael, for putting the idea into our minds! It’s been an excellent three episodes, and I know David and I have learned a lot about this period. What other suggestions do people have for topics we could cover?

  3. This series was Michael’s idea? Thanks Michael I thoroughly enjoyed it. And thanks to Dave, Cameron and Nick for their work. The three way debate worked really well.

    It hasn’t really changed my opinion of Napoleon. I have already conceded that he is not a blood thirsty tyranical warmonger, just a tyranical warmonger. I didn’t know anything about the terrible goings on on Haiti before this podcast but it does sound like the attrocities were local affairs.

    You are tackling Ireland next Nick? You may find yourself straying into controversies on that one. Best of luck.

  4. Michael

    @Colin, Not the whole idea =) Just examining Ribbe’s work and the atrocities commited in the campaign.

  5. Paul Caspall

    Thank you gentlemen (especially Nick) for a fascinating conclusion to this field of study.

    Of particular interest to me was the reading of Napoleon’s direct orders, and the disobedience – and crimes – of his generals that followed. Leclerc appears to get off fairly lightly in less extensive summaries of this war, and it it is Rochambeau who is the brutal racial war criminal. What became of Rochambeau after this? Karma, if not justice, seems to have taken care of Leclerc.

    Last, but not least, the Sound Barrier would also like to give thanks to Nick for preserving its integrity these last two podcasts – hearing him at something less than machine-gun staccato was a pleasure to my ears and the more leisurely swiftness of my mind. 😉

    Thanks again guys.

  6. @Colin I’m not as familiar with Bourbon treatment later, but I’m not surprised with that you say. And the date gives away the reasonin, I think. 1825 is when France finally officially recognized Haitian sovereignty. It’s not surprising that the Bourbons would want a crippling payment in return for “granting” Haiti “independence,” which they achieved a full generation earlier with their blood and tears. And of course burning their entire portion of the island to the ground and then when independent undergoing a whole series of despotic military dictatorships combined with Bourbon policy doesn’t help in the poverty situation for Haiti

    @Paul I’m glad I managed to save the Sound Barrier! 😉

  7. Bobbie Ruben

    Hi Cameron and David
    On a more personal note…a couple of years ago myself, family and friends all listened to the Napoleon 101 series with almost obsessive fascination ( my partner even bought a couple of medals and old maps)….
    What is quite funny is only discovering a couple of days ago that one of our good friends is a direct descendant of William Balcombe and grew up at ‘The Briars’ in Mt Martha which apparently houses a very significant collection including death mask and lock of hair amongst other things. None of which I knew until a couple of days ago. I visited the house many times in the 70’s and even got married there in 85. My friend eventually bequeathed the collection and his home to the National trust. I presume you know of this connection but don’t remember hearing you mentioning ‘The Briars” My friend hasn’t heard of your series so I am sending him the details ASAP. What a ‘pleasure’ awaits him.

    Thanks

    Bobbie

  8. Julian [A Canadian Bonapartist]

    I’m not attempting to move the converse into another whole series of podcasts, but I was wondering if David and Cameron would mind doing a Biography show podcast on Samuel de Champlain, a man very similar yet different as well to Napoleon. A humane man, as proper research will tell you. Please look into it, I would be very happy to hear about this famous explorer, the first French-Canadian, as I usually refer to him as. [Born in France, but Canadian really]

    Yours, A Bonapartist and Patriot.

  9. Julian, a Bonapartist and Canadian patriot

    Well I suggested a podcast or two ago that I would like an episode or two on the Louisiana purchase, as well as Napoleon’s attitude towards the Canadiens, who were still French and thus, at least theoretically, under his jurisdiction. Also I’d be interested to hear about Godoy, the Spanish leader who rose from private to prime minister and his downfall.

    Vive l’empereur and Vive Canada!

  10. Thanks for the Chomsky link Cameron. Good stuff, but I am a bit concerned about him. It can’t do your mental health any good to be so worried about everything all the time. He’s a bit like Eeyore. It might do him so good to lighten up and write a book about birds or flowers or something.

    Having said that, Hegemony or Survival is a good read.

  11. Julian, A Bonapartist and Canadian patriot

    Thanks Colin,

    Unfortunately I believe that the Canadiens were strongly royalist, but that may depend on the area of New France in question. I’m unsure as to whether or not they were Bonapartists, especially with the privileges the British Empire pretended to give them…

    It would be fun to do a little research on that… Perhaps also have material for podcast #58 if David has enough of his medication left?

  12. Martin

    I have thoroughly enjoyed the series but particularly enjoyed the podcast with Philip Dwyer. I felt that having someone on the podcast who was not such a fan of Napoleon created an interesting discussion. So my suggeston would be to try to obtain guests with opposing views on Napoleon to create a more balanced view.
    Napoleon’s conduct in the Peninsular war certainly reflected badly on his character and tends to show that although undoubtedly he was a military genius with a fantastic intellectual ability he was a heavily flawed individual. As unfortunately most of history’s leaders tend to be.

    • Cameron

      Martin, I’m all for getting guests on who have a differing viewpoint to David & I. If you have any suggestions for good guests, please pass them on!

  13. I agree Philip Dwyer was good. Alexander Mikaberidze wasn’t as pro-Napoleon as David and Cameron either, and also gave another interesting perspective.

    In fact when you think about it, even Napoleon’s mum wasn’t as pro-Napoleon as David and Cameron.

    To be fair though, the podcasts do present a reasonably balanced picture and while you are left in no doubt of the creators’ sympathies you get enough information to make your own judgment.

    I agree with Martin that it would be good to hear from a clearly anti-Napoleon expert and that should be a lively debate. But I like the way that Dave in particular gives us his opinion as well as the facts, even when I totally disagree. I think it makes for a stronger and more engaging story.

  14. Paul Caspall

    “In fact when you think about it, even Napoleon’s mum wasn’t as pro-Napoleon as David and Cameron.”

    Classic.
    🙂

  15. Martin

    I have no idea how difficult it is to get these people online but I am sure with David’s and your high profile and prestige I think Nelson Mandela has probably been on the phone begging to appear.

    So here are a couple of suggestions:

    1. Charles Esdailehttp://tulip.liv.ac.uk/portal/pls/portal/tulwwwmerge.mergepage?p_template=hist&p_tulipproc=staff&p_params=%3Fp_func%3Dteldir%26p_hash%3DA394798%26p_url%3DHI%26p_template%3Dhist

    2. Adam Zamoyski
    http://www.adamzamoyski.com/about.php

    3. Dominic Lieven
    http:[email protected]/Home.aspx

    I hope these are helpful suggestions.

  16. Elliott

    With regard to slavery it would have been good to point out that the British diverted naval resources from the fight against Napoleon to suppress the transatlantic slave trade. The West African Squadron was established in 1808 the year of Wellington’s first victory over the French at Vimeiro. 😉

  17. I have no idea whether he would do it, but Robert Harvey wrote an excellent history of the whole of the vars with France called War of Wars. He is very anti-Napoleon, even going so far as to suggest that the French had better generals. Its a good read and a very good counter balance to this podcast.

    I think if you could track him down the sparks would certainly fly.

  18. vani dawanincura

    hi guys i just want to say again how terribly happy with this podcasts. i admired napoleon before i found the podcast and now i love him. in fact i have from this show now resolved to having one of my sons called Napoleon. i just wish timetravel was around now so i could travel back and warn him of the unseen dangers that faced him then.

    As a suggestion i think it would be a fantastic idea to do a podcast on the french imperial family since the fall of the empire. i think most followers would like to see what has happened to the family of the great man. his illegitimate children and their descendents as well as the current head of the imperial family. and of how the bonarpatist movement, if it exists, is going. it would also be interesting to see how the imperial family is also viewed by france and ordinary frenchmen.

    i have already said to much but thank you. keep up the good work cameron and dave you all have a good weekend.

  19. Martin

    If guests prove difficult to get another idea would be episodes on the lives of Napoleon’s marshalls….

  20. Adam from Lancashire

    “Elliott 2 September 2010 at 4:05 am #

    With regard to slavery it would have been good to point out that the British diverted naval resources from the fight against Napoleon to suppress the transatlantic slave trade. The West African Squadron was established in 1808 the year of Wellington’s first victory over the French at Vimeiro. ;-)”

    Too right, Elliott. Sometimes people forget that the British were the goodies 😉

    I’m only messing; I firmly believe it was another case of six of one, half dozen of the other. Thanks Cameron, David and Nicholas for these latest podcasts. I’d like to echo the calls for episodes on Napoleon’s Marshalls or maybe some focussing on the other nations who were drawn in on one side or the other. An episode on Bavaria, the Poles, etc. Whatever you decide to do good luck and I’ll enjoy listening to it.

    P.S After reading the comments on the previous episode re. slavery and racism, I’d like to say that even though I’ve occasionally disagreed with what you’ve said (usually in relation to a mention of us English 😉 ), it’s great that you engage in free and open discussion with your listeners, and you deserve credit for that. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next episode.

  21. Andrew Lawson from Ontario

    I hope Cameron is reading this. I found a great song to use for the intro of the next episode. Mark Knopfler is the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, the Dire Straits. The song is about an exhausted french soldier on the Russian campaign.

    Mark Knopfler – Done With Bonaparte

    • Cameron

      Just listening to it – I knew I didn’t like Mark Knobfler. Okay, I really like “Romeo and Juliet”. But that’s it.

  22. Totally off topic, but I almost saw Dire Straits on their first national tour. They were supporting a tuneless but cheerful duo called Chas and Dave who were unaccountably popular at the time. The tour was sponsored by a brewery who offered cheap drinks at the gigs. As a result I gave the support band a miss and enjoyed some cut price booze instead. In the event, I didn’t even make it in for the main attraction either. Even beer couldn’t get me drunk enough to enjoy them.

    Consequently I missed out on seeing a band that went on to do great things while they were still starting out. I also had a hangover.

    Life is full of regrets isn’t it.

  23. Cameron/David I thought your Australian listens might like to know about a major Napoleon exhibition that has just been announced for Melbourne in 2012. The Foundation Napoleon in Paris along with some of the major French museums will be loaning items. Should be quite a treat.
    Cheers
    Ken Richards

    Napoleon heads for Melbourne – 2012
    Raymond Gill – The Age
    September 23, 2010 – 3:00AM

    THE competition among state governments to stage ”exclusive” blockbusters during the winter months is hotting up.

    The Victorian Arts Minister Peter Batchelor has claimed the NSW and Queensland governments have ”plagiarised’ the success of the annual Winter Masterpiece series at the National Gallery of Victoria so yesterday he announced not one but two blockbusters heading for Melbourne.

    ”Mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery,” Mr Batchelor said at the NGV yesterday as he announced the NGV will present in 2012 Napoleon: Revolution to Empire, which presents French art, design, furniture, court costumes, and armour from the 1770s to the 1820s, with most of the 200 works borrowed from the Fondation Napoleon in Paris.

    The 2011 Melbourne Winter Masterpiece Vienna: Art and Design, featuring major works by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele from the Belvedere Palace and Wien Museum in Vienna, was first reported by The Age in June.

    The show of 240 works celebrates Vienna as a centre of art and design at the turn of last century and its inclusion of a dozen glittering Klimts includes four of his most famous female portraits, including one of his lover, Emilie Floge.

    Both shows are exclusive to Melbourne and funded by the Victorian Major Events Company, which is charged with finding events that will bring tourists to Melbourne.

    Mr Batchelor said the twin announcement was not part of a defensive strategy to shore up the city’s position as a magnet for cultural tourism. ”We are leading the way anyway,” Mr Batchelor said.

    ”This forward notice of themes allows other artistic bodies and restaurants for example to plan complementary events,” he said. Since the Winter Masterpiece Series began in 2004, the shows have attracted a total of 2.4 million people adding an estimated $138 to the state economy, he said.

    This story was found at:

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/melbourne-life/napoleon-heads-for-melbourne-20100922-15mz7.html

    • Cameron

      Hi Ken! Sorry for the late reply on this! Sounds exciting, I can’t believe they haven’t asked me to curate it! 🙂

  24. Amanda

    Cameron and David,

    A few months ago, I began listening to the podcast from the beginning. I am currently up to episode 31, and am enjoying it greatly. I hope that both of you continue with this podcast, or that the two of you combine again on another subject. I love history so one about Alexander or the Caesars would be high on my list of podcasts to listen to!

    Thank you for the great work!

    • Cameron

      Hi Amanda! Nice to hear from you! Always good to know that we have some ladies in the audience as well!

  25. Daniel vianna

    I second vani! I have recently been to Florence visiting churches, and how surprised I was to find one of his clan (daughter?) resting at the Franciscan cathedral! I wonder how did she end there.

  26. jeremy

    Earlier this year I bought the book 1812 napoleons fatal march to moscow and enjoyed it. Following that I bought Napoleon for dummies. Then learning about the podcasts I am on podcast 23……what a fantastic duo Cameron and David make…well done guys…..entertaining….informative….educational….and if anyone does accuse you of being a bit biased…WELL SO WHAT!!!! here in the UK we are TOO BIASED AGAINST napoleon so it is good to here a more balanced view!! Keep it going

  27. I agree with Jeremy that we get a one sided view of Napoleon in Britain, and I dare say other commonwealth countries. We just see him as a tyrannical ego mad adventurer whose policies led to war across the continent.

    In reality the truth is a bit more subtle. He was a tyrannical ego mad adventurer whose policies led to war across the continent but who also did some good things back home in France.

  28. Andrew Lawson

    I have been reading that Napoleon wrote his memoirs on St.Helena but I cant find anything of that nature that he wrote. I have found books containing his letters or sayings etc. but no memoirs.

  29. Michael

    Napoleon did actually write his own memoirs on St. Helena, they focused on the 1796-1797 Italian Campaign, the Egyptian Campaign and Elba and the Hundred days. The first two volumes have just been published in France, the description from the publishers says:”DURING THE LAST YEARS OF HIS LIFE, NAPOLEON SET TO DICTATING HIS MEMOIRS. THESE TEXTS SHOULD NOT, HOWEVER, BE CONFUSED WITH THE MEMOIRS PUBLISHED BY HIS COMPANIONS IN EXILE, THE SUCCESS OF WHICH HAS OFTEN SEEN THE FRENCH EMPEROR’S OWN ACCOUNT OF HIS LIFE LEFT IN THE DARK. CONSCIOUS OF THE REMARKABLE NATURE OF HIS CAREER, HE WAS NOT ABOUT TO LET ANYONE BUT HIMSELF RECOUNT AND INTERPRET HIS STORY. AND SO FOR MORE THAN FIVE YEARS, ON THE TINY ISLAND OF SAINT HELENA, HE OVERSAW A VERITABLE FACTORY DEDICATED TO THE PRODUCTION OF HISTORY. PAINSTAKINGLY DICTATED, REREAD AND CORRECTED BY NAPOLEON HIMSELF, THESE MEMOIRS CONSTITUTE, IF YOU WILL, THE PRINCIPAL PROTOGANIST’S VIEW OF KEY MOMENTS IN HIS OWN EPIC SAGA. WHICH MAKES THE FACT THAT THESE WRITINGS HAVE NOT BEEN REPUBLISHED FOR OVER ONE HUNDRED YEARS ALL THE MORE PERPLEXING.”

    • Cameron

      Michael – can you tell us the name of the volumes? I’m sorry but I find this VERY hard to believe.

  30. Michael

    The title of Volume 2 is; “NAPOLEON I , LENTZ THIERRY (ED.), MÉMOIRES DE NAPOLÉON: VOL. II LA CAMPAGNE D’EGYPTE (IN FRENCH)” Its mentioned on http://www.napoleon.org. I was as surprised as you.

  31. Cameron Reilly

    I’ve been trying to find out more information on this. Do you think it’s just a re-publish of the work contained in “Napoleon On Napoleon” that Somerset de Chair put out in 1992?

    I’m about to record a new show with David and Nicholas, so I’ll ask the great man what he knows about it! Thanks again for bringing it to our attention!

  32. Michael

    These Memoirs by Napoleon are not just a re-publish of the work contained in “Napoleon On Napoleon” that Somerset de Chair put out in 1992 and they’re definitely set apart from the memoirs released by his St. Helena companions. Also they haven’t just been “discovered”, they are being re-published for the first time in a hundred years and have unfortunately been overshadowed by the other St. Helena podcasts. Thats why they seem to be coming out of the blue. Here’s a link to Italian volume;http://www.napoleon.org/en/magazine/just_published/files/477855.asp

  33. I have now listened to most of the series twice!!…Ive obviously , being British..listened to the Waterloo and Trafalgar ones about 6 times …(Only kidding Mr Reilly))
    My main centre of Interest in this period was the war in Spain
    As a youngster i read a book , I believe it was called “The recollections of rifleman Harris”…or something very similar, it led me on to read more of the Napoleonic era…and even being British I developed a guilty sort of admiration for Napoleon, who took what was a ravaged, disunited country after the revolution and more or less took on the whole of Europe.
    It was when I first read his quote ..and I paraphrase here (because I do not know it precisely)..
    “In every Soldiers knapsack is a Marshalls baton”..Its a meritocracy…something the allied powers did not have…and being from a city that is English working class and mainly of a socialist persuasion ..it struck a chord…and I often wonder what England might have become had The British lost at Waterloo…or had they made peace when it was offered…Would the suffering of our soldiers during world war 1 have occurred?…would Thousands and thousands of my working class countrymen have been mown down to gain two yards of mud on the Somme gone on to live their lives as they should have…raised families?..had, at least a life to speak of…?…ive thoroughly njoyed the series of podcasts…but would love to have a pro British hisorian to argue the case for Britains actions during the era…to give a little more balance…maybe balance is the wrong word…but the opinion of the British Government at the time…anyway ..thanks for many hours of wonderful listening…
    (I write this as England have just beaten Australia 3-0 in the one day cricket series lol)

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