The Blog


Check Out The Caesar Show

Here’s a plug for the Life Of Caesar podcast, hosted by Cameron and Ray Harris. It’s been going since Dec ’13, has about 80,000 listeners and ranks in the Top 100 podcasts in the USA, UK, AUS and CAN, so check it out!

Napoleon Book Partly Basis For Book Of Mormon?

A couple of Canadian whizzkids recently released the results of a breakthrough textual analysis they did on The Book Of Mormon and highlighted the books they believe LDS founder Joseph Smith used as inspiration when he wrote the book (Mormons, of course, believed he magically translated it from hieroglyphics on ancient golden plates, left by ancient Jews who arrived in North America before the Native Americans, using two magic stones… but that’s another story).

Now this is fascinating news in its own right. But what’s even more of interest to us is that one of the books they claimed he used was a book written in 1809 about Napoleon!

It’s a book I confess I’ve never heard of before – “The First Book of Napoleon, the Tyrant of the Earth: Written in the 5813th Year of the World” by Modeste Gruau who, it seems from the little information I’ve been able to find out about him, was only fourteen years old when he wrote it.

According to this Wikipedia page (translated from the French by Google), Modeste Gruau de La Barre, born in La Chartre-sur-le-Loir on 25  March  1795,  is known for being loyal to Karl-Wilhelm Naundorff, a Prussian watchmaker, who claimed to be the real Louis XVII .

Anyway, back to the book. It is written in the style of the King James Bible and tells the story of “the Tyrant Napoleon” in dramatic style. You can read the whole thing, thanks to and Google Books, but here’s the opening verse. Anyone who is familiar with The Book Of Mormon (I’m married to an ex-mo and have spent lots of time in Utah) will recognise the style immediately.

The First Book of Napoleon, the Tyrant of the Earth


Has anyone heard about this book or its author before? Can anyone shed light on who he was and how he managed to write this thing at 14 years of age?

More Podcasts!

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!

Markham & Reilly Record A Podcast!

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!

War Gamers Remember the Battle Of Leipzig

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.

3D-scanning Napoleon’s battlefield at Borodino

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…

I heard about it via Skeptoid (and thanks to Mark Hellewell for bringing it to my attention) who was kind enough to give David & I get a mention:

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.



The Origin Of Napoleon’s Hat

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:

The origin of Napoleon's hat


I don’t think I’ve ever heard this story before. Perhaps David or someone can shed some light on its veracity?


TIL Napoleon Invented The Idéologues

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

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.

We Love To Hear From Our Listeners.

Get in touch with us!