A previous version of this paper was published in Philipp Mansel and Torsten Riotte (eds), Monarchy and exile. The politics of legitimacy from Marie de Médicis to Wilhelm II, London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011, ‘Napoleon on Elba: an exile of consent’, pp. 214-229. For the text in French, see M. Kerautret, Les Grands Traités de l’Empire: la chute de l’Empire et la restauration européenne (1811-1815), Paris: Nouveau Monde Editions/Fondation Napoléon, 2004, p. 126. For the text in English, see Norwood Young, Napoleon in exile: Elba (1814-1815), London: Stanley Paul & Co, 1914, pp. 43-8.
See A.-L.-A. de Caulaincourt, Mémoires du général de Caulaincourt duc de Vicence grand écuyer de l'Empereur / introduction et notes de Jean Hanoteau, Paris: Plon, 1933, vol. 3, pp. 226 and 240 ff. Czar Alexander had been initially against the idea of Elba, as was Napoleon, it being too small and not continental. Corsica, Sardinia and Corfu were also suggested but rejected. In the subsequent negotiations with Alexander, Elba was the preferred site of Napoleon’s negotiator, Caulaincourt, since it had good weather and good defences. The fortress in Portoferraio was renowned as one of the strongest in Europe! see Pierre Branda, La guerre secrète de Napoléon. Île d’Elbe 1814-1815, Paris: Perrin, 2014, p. 67. It has also been (cynically) suggested that the Czar was happy that Austria should be permanently perturbed by having Napoleon on the doorstep of its interests in Italy. The author of Fouché’s memoirs (whether Fouché or not, the jury is still out…) famously noted in a letter supposedly from Fouché to the comte d'Artois in 1814, that Napoleon on Elba was as threatening for Europe as Vesuvius was for Naples: "Le plus grand de tous les intérêts pour la France et pour l'Europe [...] c'est le repos des peuples et puissances; on n'en jouirait jamais, tant que l'empereur Napoléon serait dans l'île d'Elbe. Napoléon sur ce rocher serait pour l'Italie, pour la France, pour toute l'Europe, ce que le Vésuve est à côté de Naples.", Mémoires de Joseph Fouché, duc d'Otrante, ministre de la police générale, Paris : Le Rouge, Volume 2, 14 décembre 1824, p. 289. Indeed, the allies thought that if Napoleon was ever to attempt ‘to return to international politics’, he would do so via Italy.
Napoleon himself was heard feeding this fiction, see Pierre Branda, La guerre secrète de Napoléon. Île d’Elbe 1814-1815, Paris : Perrin, 2014, p. 68.
Branda, La guerre secrète, cit., p. 68.
See Pierre Branda, Guerre secrète, cit., pp. 78-81.
Baron Peyrusse, Mémorial et Archives de M. le baron Peyrusse (1809 - 1815) Trésorier général de la Couronne. Pendant les Cent-Jours Vienne, Moscou, Ile d'Elbe, Carcassonne: Labau et Lajoux, 1869, vol. 1, p. 236-7.
See Captaine de Vaisseau Montcabré’s remarks (cited in Pierre Branda, Guerre secrète cit., p. 112) : « […] il a créé un Conseil d’État, des chambellans… ». Its role was not in theory to be limited to merely that of a law court and court of appeal (Cassation).
Pierre Branda, Guerre secrète, cit., p. 93. See also Napoleon, Le registre de l'île d'Elbe: lettres et ordres inédits de Napoléon 1er, 28 mai 1814-22 février 1815, ed. L.-G. Pélissier, 2nd ed. Paris: A. Fontemoing, 1897, p. 60.
Peyrusse (in, Mémorial, ed. cit., p. 237) gives Napoleon’s flotilla as follows: Bacchante (a ‘goelette’), Légère (a half-‘chébec’), Caroline (an ‘aviso’) and 3 ‘canots’. Pierre Branda (Guerre secrète cit., p. 338) gives rather (in addition to Inconstant and the 3 ‘canots’) Abeille (an aviso), Caroline (a 2-gun mouche (sic)), Etoile (ex-Etrusco, a 6-canon goélette) and Mouche (an aviso).
See Branda, op. cit., pp. 134-47 and 337.
Napoleon, Registre de l’île d’Elbe, op. cit., p. 90.
See Branda, Guerre secrète cit., pp. 168-9.
Peyrusse, Mémorial, ed. cit., p. 237.
Peyrusse, Mémorial, ed. cit., «documents annexes», no. 61.
Deschamps was a sort of palace governor for I Mulini, see Branda, Guerre secrète
cit., p. 115 and Pierre Branda, Napoléon et ses hommes, Paris: Fayard, 2011, p. 455. Baillon was in charge of the stables and boats, see Branda, Guerre secrète
cit., pp. 115-16 and Branda, Napoléon et ses hommes cit., p. 455.
L.-J. Marchand, Mémoires de Marchand: premier valet de chambre et exécuteur testamentaire de l'Empereur / publiés d'après le manuscrit original par Jean Bourguignon, … Paris: Tallandier, 1985, p. 109.
For short biographical sketches of nearly all these figures, see André Pons l’Héraut, Souvenirs et anecdotes de l’île d’Elbe, ed. Léon G. Péllisier, Paris: Plon, 1897, pp. 74-82, 192.
Head of ordnance in the palace, see Pons l’Héraut, op. cit., pp. 79.
R. Martinelli (ed.), Le mobilier: Inventario della residenza imperiale di Napoleone all’Elba, Livorno: Sillabe, 2005, p. 86.
Martinelli (ed.), Le mobilier, ed. cit., pp. 66-82.
Martinelli (ed.), Le mobilier, ed. cit., p. 74.
In Martinelli (ed.), Le mobilier, ed. cit., p. 15.
On all this see Branda, Guerre secrète cit., pp. 108-114.
Arrighi was appointed « aumônier de l'Empereur », see Pons l’Héraut, op. cit., pp. 73, 80-81.
Marchand, op. cit., p. 111.
Peyrusse, op. cit., p. 237
Bourachot (ed.), Mameluck Ali, ed. cit.¸ p. 71.
Lacroix’s text was published by Jean Savant under the title ‘Journal de Charrier-Moissard’, in Toute l’histoire de Napoléon, vol 11, April 1952, pp. 37-67. The manuscript belonged to Frédéric Masson and is presumably held today at the Paris Bibliothèque Marmottan. Jean Lacroix had a career as a naval man during the Consulate and Empire, ending up as Rear Admiral. In addition to his historic role as commandant of the L’Inconstant in 1814, he also transported the Duchesse de Berry in 1816, on Néréïde.
‘Journal de Charrier-Moissard’, ed. cit., p. 52-5, 57.
‘Journal de Charrier-Moissard’, ed. cit., p. 55.
Marchand, op. cit., p. 112.
Bourachot, Mameluck Ali, ed. cit.¸ p. 81. The first play performed was Regnard’s Folies amoureuses.
Published in the Registre de l’île d’Elbe.
Napoléon, Registre de l’île d’Elbe, ed. cit., p. 114.
Napoléon, Correspondance publiée par ordre de l'Empereur Napoléon III, Paris: Imprimerie Impériale (1858), vol. 31, p. 17.
Norwood Young, op. cit., p. 237.
Napoléon, Registre de l’île d’Elbe, ed. cit., p. x.
Published by Norwood Young, op. cit., pp. 206-7.
Whilst it is true that Louis XVIII had no desire to pay Napoleon the money, the Restoration treasury was very hard up, indeed it did not have even enough money to pay its own troops, many of which had to be placed on half pay. This penury of soldiers was partly responsible for of the extraordinary success of the ‘Retour de l’aigle’ in 1815.
The two priest instigators were arrested and brought before a Military Commission. Initially threatened with the death penalty, their sentence was commuted, and they were handed over to their spiritual head, the Vicar General Arrighi, to be given a punishment less than capital. See Napoleon’s letter to Drouot, dated Porto Ferraio 28 and 29 November, 1814, quoted in the auction catalogue Importants souvenirs historiques de l’Empereur Napoléon Ier, Paris: Drouot, 4 December, 1991, lot no. 107.
Norwood Young, op. cit., p. 199.
Napoléon, Registre de l’île d’Elbe, p. 173 ff.
P. Branda, Napoléon et l’argent, Paris: Fayard, 2007, “Les difficiles finances de l’île d’Elbe”, pp. 60-68.
Napoleon himself on St Helena noted to the doctor Barry O’Meara: “When I was at Elba, I had deputations from the four first commercial cities in France offering me whatever money I wanted, and from Americans also.” Remark recorded in O’Meara’s letter to Finlaison, dated March 16, 1816, British Library, Ms. Add. 20,146, fol. 50v.
C. Metternich, Mémoires: documents et écrits divers / laissés par le prince de Metternich,...; publiés par son fils, le prince Richard de Metternich; classés et réunis par M.A. de Klinkowstroem, Paris: E. Plon, 1881-1884, tome 1, p. 283: “One of his deepest and most constant regrets was not being able to invoke the principle of legitimacy as the basis of his power. Few men have been so profoundly marked as he by the realisation of how precarious and fragile authority is once deprived of this foundation, and how strong a bastion legitimacy provides against attack.”
During the Revolutionary period, the Tuileries palace had been occupied by the “Representatives of the People”, notably the Comité de Salut public and later Conseil des cinq cents or Senate. Antoine-Claire Thibaudeau considered this Revolutionary occupation “a sort of homage given to the majesty of ‘La Nation’”, A. C. Thibaudeau, Mémoires sur le Consulat: 1799 à 1804 / par un ancien conseiller d'Etat, Paris: Ponthieu, 1827, p. 1.
Fouché seems to have been mistaken when he noted at the time that “the consuls’ new residence should cause no concern whatsoever for real Republicans”, quoted in Dictionnaire Napoléon, ed. Jean Tulard, Paris: Fayard, 1999, s.v., ‘Cour impériale’ (Tulard), p. 581; although perhaps there is an ironic force in the expression ‘real Republicans’?
P. F. L. Fontaine, Journal, Paris: Ecole nationale des beaux arts: Institut français d'architecture: Société de l'histoire de l'art français, 1987, cited in Bernard Chevallier, Napoléon, les lieux de pouvoir, (Paris): Artlys, 2004, p. 33. For the gradual creation of Napoleon’s monarchical court during the Consulate, see P. Hicks, ‘Napoleon und sein Hof’, in V. Veltzke (ed.), Napoleon: Trikolore und Kaiseradler über Rhein und Weser, Cologne, Weimar, Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, pp. 23-32.
Term coined by T. Lentz in Le grand Consulat : 1799-1804, [Paris]: Fayard, 1999, p. 331-51.
See Hicks, ‘Napoleon und sein Hof’, op. cit., 24-6.
See Lentz, ‘Napoleonic legitimacies and the proclamation of Empire’, art. cit.
J.-J. de Cambacérès, Mémoires inédits: éclaircissements publiés par Cambaceres sur les principaux événements de sa vie politique / présentation et notes de Laurence Chatel de Brancion, Paris: Perrin, 1999, v. 1: La Révolution, le Consulat, p. 489.
Metternich, Mémoires, ed. cit., pp. 282-283.
See J. Holland Rose, Pitt and Napoleon: Essays and Letters, London: G. Bell and Sons, 1912, p. 179.
Pons l’Héraut, op. cit., pp.XL note 2; see also note 3: “I seize on everything which would tend to prove ‘moralement’ that the misdeeds of the Holy Alliance made the emperor leave the island of Elba much sooner than he wanted to, that is, if he ever wanted to leave in the first place.”
Comte de Las Cases, Le mémorial de Sainte-Hélène, ed. Marcel Dunan, Paris: Flammarion 1951, ‘17 April, 1816’.
Sir Neil Campbell, Napoleon on Elba. Diary of an eyewitness to exile, ed. Jonathan North, Welwyn Garden City: Ravenhall Books, 2004, ‘May 25’: “On it being remarked that he had many adherents still in France, he said, “Oh! The Emperor is dead. I am no longer anything”.
See A.-C. Thibaudeau, Mémoires de A.-C. Thibaudeau: 1799-1815, (ed. E. D.) Paris: Plon, 1913, p. 451, and A. Thiers Histoire du Consulat et de l'Empire, Paris: Paulin, 1845-1862, vol. XIX, p. 32.
See J.-O. Boudon, “Pourquoi Sainte-Hélène?”, in B. Chevallier, M. Dancoisne-Martineau and T.Lentz (eds), Sainte-Hélène: île de mémoire, Paris: Fayard, 2005, pp. 47-51.
The Elban exile has been described as scene from a comic opera. L. Mascilli Migliorini, Napoleone, Roma: Salerno editrice, 2002, p. 403 noted: “Here time and history are only slower and on a small scale, and what is asked of the Emperor is that he should adapt himself to these smaller dimensions… Here is not the first step in the great fall but rather a colourful play, a comedy of equivocations, if you will, where each actor – Sovereign, courtiers, diplomats, soldiers, administrators and subjects – consciously play their part against an almost theatrical backdrop.” This is however too glib. It was an expensive exercise, taken quite seriously at first, but finally rejected for lack of means.