If you haven’t noticed yet, David and I have recorded another couple of political podcasts in recent weeks. Click on the images below to visit my other site and immerse yourself in the most intelligent political discussion you’ve heard in a long, long time. BTW, David did suggest an idea for more Napoleon shows to me today, so stay tuned for that, too! If you’ve taken us out of your podcast feed, put us back in now!
Poker will never be the same again, with these Napoleon playing cards! (Ebay)
Well we’ve been threatening to do this for YEARS and it’s finally happened. David and I recorded a new podcast! About US politics! I know, I know – some of you HATE that idea – but the good news is, you don’t have to listen to it!
However, if you DO want to hear David and I discuss the recent US government shutdown – helped by a guest, Doug LaFollette, Secretary of State of Wisconsin – then go over to my blog. If you don’t – then don’t. There’s a TINY bit of Napoleon news at the very end of the podcast, just to keep y’all happy. Happy Battle Of Leipzig anniversary!
200 years ago, in October 1813, Napoleon lead his dwindling army into The Battle Of Leipzig. The war gamers are re-enacting it this weekend – in front of nearly 30,000 spectators, some 6,000 history buffs from across Europe will act out the battles of October 1813, which were among the bloodiest of the 19th century. Read more.
If you want more background on the battle, we discussed it in Episode #28.
From the website of Artec3D:
Marking the 200th anniversary of that battle, the Russian Academy of Sciences, commissioned Artec to help with excavation and documentation of the battle field. Artec was tasked with scanning all human and battle-horse remains. The job was not for the faint-of-heart. One of our tech nearly fainted. But we persevered…
Even though Napoleon technically won, it was far from being a decisive victory. Napoleon afterwards went on to occupy Moskou, but eventually had to retreat. This “strategic withdrawal“, as David Markham and Cameron Reilly called it in their Napoleon Bonaparte podcast, was in fact a complete disaster, resulting in the “Grande Armee” being decimated. On his way back, the troops had to pass the battlefield they had left only a few weeks earlier, and hardly any corpses had been buried. You can imagine the effect this had on the moral of the French troops and their allies.
Well it WAS a strategic withdrawal. It’s certainly not like the Russians came even close to winning a battle, let alone the war. Napoleon and his troops just decided enough was enough and it was time to return home. I don’t know what else you’d call it.
I was reading about Frederick The Great of Prussia last night when I came across this picture.
I thought… hmmmm… that hat looks familiar!
Napoleon apparently adopted the hat from Frederick The Great of Prussia, whom he greatly admired, who in turn borrowed it from Charles XII of Sweden. A quick Google search lead me to this article in The Milwaukee Journal from 1938:
I don’t think I’ve ever heard this story before. Perhaps David or someone can shed some light on its veracity?
Today I learned something new about Napoleon. Apparently he was the first person to use the term “idéologue” pejoratively to describe his opponents – the French politically liberal intellectuals such as Benjamin Constant, Pierre Jean George Cabanis and Madame de Staël. The idéologues longed for an idealized France. They believed whole-heartedly in the values of the Revolution. Napoleon, on the other hand, was a pragmatist. While he also believed in the general values of liberty and equality, he also believed that people needed to be lead and that the first decade of the Revolution had been a disaster. He knew that France desired and needed some political and economic stability. This, of course, was his ideology.
According to William Safire writing in the NY Times:
“The historian Helen Williams wrote in 1815 that the Corsican left “the idéologues of his council to arrange what he calls their revolutionary rubbish, such as sovereign people, equal rights, etc.”.”
Helen Maria Williams was an English-born, French-living poet and translator who supported the French Revolution, was imprisoned during the Reign Of Terror, and who wasn’t a big fan of the Emperor Napoleon, who, it must be noted, allowed her to live and work in Paris while she freely criticised him.
According to Andreas Möllenkamp:
After his return to Paris from the disaster in Russia in 1812, Napoleon blamed the idéologues for the catastrophe into which his own despotism had plunged the country:
“It is to the doctrinaire of the idéologues – to this diffuse metaphysics, which in a contrived manner seeks to find the primary causes and on this foundation would erect the legislation of peoples, instead of adapting the laws to a knowledge of the human heart and of the lessons of history – to which one must attribute all the misfortunes which have befallen our beautiful France.”
(cited in Williams, Raymond (1983): Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. London: Fontana Press).
In his view, the only realistic way to run the country was by making an alliance with the Church.
Staum (Staum, Martin S. (1980): Cabanis: Enlightenment and medical philosophy in the French Revolution. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.) puts it thus:
“The regime found the Church a more effective control on wayward consciences than the pale natural morality associated with Ideology.”
According to J. Christopher Herold’s “The Age of Napoleon”, Napoleon considered the ideologues to be “babbling fools”. His opinion was that human nature didn’t change – “men are moved by two levers only: fear and self interest ” – and that the way to bring stability to France after the horrors of Robespierre and the constant attacks of the united Monarchs of Europe was to resume some of the old means of pacification of the masses – the Catholic Church and social order.
So the next time you hear someone on TV talk about political ideology as being a bad thing – thank Napoleon.
Napoleon The Waterloo Campaign 4th Edition is the latest version of the classic boardgame – was a Kickstarter campaign that was fully (in fact, over-)funded about 18 hours ago. Congrats to Tom Dalgliesh from Columbia Games.
People who pledge $295 or more will receive a four day, 200th anniversary tour of the Waterloo Campaign area in 2015 lead by Game designer and historian Tom Dalgliesh. Tour will include visits to the battlefields of Quatre Bras and Ligny (June 16), Wavre (June 17) and Waterloo (June 18). Includes hotels (4 nights), all meals, museum fees, and transportation each day of the tour. Winner have to pay their own way to Brussels though. NOTE: Pledge is a DEPOSIT toward a $1295 final cost.
One of Chrissy’s cousins just sent me this story in the Smithsonian Magazine that tells the story of how one man claimed he had plans to rescue Napoleon from St Helena… WITH A SUBMARINE.
I’ve never heard it before so I thought I’d share it.
In 1820–or so he claimed–he was offered the sum of £40,000 [equivalent to $3 million now] to rescue the emperor Napoleon from bleak exile on the island of St. Helena. This escape was to be effected in an incredible way–down a sheer cliff, using a bosun’s chair, to a pair of primitive submarines waiting off shore. Johnson had to design the submarines himself, since his plot was hatched decades before the invention of the first practical underwater craft.
Well I spoke to JDM for the first time in a long time yesterday and we discussed doing a new podcast – about American politics. JDM was ranting about Obama’s inauguration and ending filibuster on Facebook and I thought it might make an interesting podcast. Maybe a one-off, but perhaps a new series?
Even though I’m not an American, I have a deep interest in American politics, as much of it affects all of us in some way or another, also because successful political ideas developed in the USA usually make their way into Australian politics in some watered-down form. Also, I’m married to an American, have American in-laws that I like, and so what affects them also affects me.
Anyhoo…. what would you think about a new show from Markham-Reilly in the near future?