Napoleonic Historical Society 2013 Conference

Mark Schneider as Napoleon at the Napoleonic Historical Society 2013 Conference

I just attended the Napoleonic Historical Society’s annual conference, held this year in Alexandria, Virginia, not far from where I live. The schedule was packed with interesting, informative talks on battles, personalities, and culture of Napoleonic times. Even I gave a brief presentation about my voyage to St Helena

The highlight for me was our final dinner where the guest of honor was Napoleon himself . . . well, it did seem like that at the time.

It was actually one of the world’s foremost Napoleon enactors, Mark Schneider. As you can see from the photos, Mark has the right look (his mother’s French; his father American), but his talent goes beyond appearances.

Napoleon, my husband and meHe claims to have had a fascination with the Emperor since he was a toddler who clutched a tiny figurine of the Great Man as other children might cuddle a stuffed animal. Mark’s mobile features capture Napoleon’s commanding stare, then transform into a swift smile of melting charm. His movements are abrupt―decisive rather than awkward―and slightly self-conscious as I suspect Napoleon’s own to have been.

Having spent the last several years living in Napoleon’s head, trying to see the world through his eyes, imagining the next words he’d say, the next thought he’d try to conceal, I was transfixed to meet the man in the flesh.

I wanted to bring him home with me, but my husband said Best not.

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Copyright © 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 Margaret Rodenberg