Happy Birthday, Emperor Napoleon

On August 15, 1769, in Ajaccio, Corsica, the Archdeacon Lucien Buonaparte celebrated the festival of the Virgin Mary, the town’s patron saint.  Young Letizia Buonaparte, interrupting her devotions, hurried home to give birth to her second son. The boy was named Napoleon after an uncle who had died several months earlier while fighting in vain for Corsica’s independence from the French. Only thirty years later, the French nation itself was happily in thrall to Corsican-born Napoleon.

For my own recent birthday, my brother gave me a bottle of Napoleon’s favorite Chambertin wine. I also received several tongue-in-cheek Napoleonic gifts: hard candy stamped with his image, a jigsaw puzzle of his coronation painting, a hoodie printed with David’s famous Crossing of the Alps painting, and, most amusing of all, a Napoleon bobble head.

Few other figures from two hundred years ago are so recognizable today. Napoleon might not approve of the bobble head, but I think he’d be pleased to be remembered.

One comment

  • August 16, 2012 - 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Nice post, as always, Margaret! And good gifts, amazing how many Napoleon-themed items are out there. Let us know if you complete the puzzle of the coronation – we tried but gave up after a while.

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