Rue Nationale (formerly Rue Napoleon).
The most famous Frenchman of all time, Napoléon (the acute accent seems to be arbitrary) Bonaparte (1769-1821) is one of the most controversial leaders in history.
French anti-colonialists denounce him for invading Egypt and Syria. Neither do they forget that he sent troops to crush slave revolts and brought back slavery in 1802, ten years after it was abolished during the Revolution. His decision led to brutal fighting in France's Caribbean colonies in which thousands died. According to a new book, he imposed racial laws, interned black people and forced the break-up of inter-racial marriages.
By the time Napoléon fell from grace, France was hated throughout Europe. In more modern times, after Hitler, twice occupied France has no stomach for dictators.
Napoleon is not only not a national hero, he seems not to be part of France’s history. He is ignored in schools. His anniversaries are not celebrated. President Chirac boycotted a ceremony marking the 200th anniversary of the battle of Austerlitz, Napoleon’s greatest military victory. In 2018 Les Gilets Jaunes defaced his Arc de Triomphe.
Most of France, although in justifiable awe of this self made man, don’t forget his lust for power left more than a million French dead.
To many he is a figure of fun. He modelled himself on his hero, Caesar. His icon, the eagle, was Roman, he wore a toga and at his coronation, which cost the nation in today’s money over eight million pounds, he wore a laurel wreath made of gold. Despite France’s bloody rejection of the monarchy, Napoleon elevated his family into kings, queens, princes and princesses creating a new 3,500 strong aristocracy.
However, Amboise does have a Napoleonic memento.
Château Amboise has a model of the ship which brought his remains from St. Helena. King Louis-Philippe, who owned the Château, was given permission by Britain to return Napoleon to France. When Napoleon III was Head of State, his uncle’s remains were entombed in a sarcophagus in the crypt of Les Invalides in Paris. When Napoleon III also fell from grace in 1870, apart from the sarcophagus, public depictions of himself and Bonaparte were destroyed.
In Paris, there is no grand avenue or square named after him and just one street Rue Bonaparte on the Left Bank in the sixth arrondissement. Five streets were named after his battles. Only one remains, rue Austerlitz. Austerlitz, in the Czech Republic, 60 miles east of Vienna was renamed Slavkov.
Post by Pamela
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