St Helena

St Helena, the site of Napoleon’s final exile and death, is an Atlantic island ten by five miles in size, located twelve hundred miles from Africa and eighteen hundred miles from Brazil.  (On the globe above, it’s that white speck in the blue ocean.) To this day, it doesn’t have an airport or even much of a harbor. Getting there on the RMS St Helena, Britain’s last Royal Mail Ship, is half the adventure. In May, 2011, my husband and I spent nine days on the island, exploring the places where Napoleon lived his last six years.

Here’s a brief video featuring photographs from my visit:

To read more about St Helena, click on the Category menu in the sidebar on the right. From the drop-down list, choose “St Helena” to see my blog posts about the island.  Subscribe to receive automatic updates or check back regularly because I add new information several times a month.

13 Comments

  • stephanie
    March 26, 2011 - 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Looking forward to hearing about the adventure!

  • Vincent Cosimini
    July 20, 2011 - 5:30 pm | Permalink

    I believe that a predecessor of our family, one Luigi Cosimini, was in the entourage of Napoleon from Russia, at Waterloo and on St Helena. Iam intrigued to know in what capacity he served Napoleon; whether as an officer or some sort of batman. Are you able to enlighten me?

  • mrodenberg
    July 20, 2011 - 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Hello, Vincent,

    I don’t find your ancestor’s name on the list I have of Napoleon’s St Helena entourage. I’d suggest contacting Albert Benhamou who just published a book titled, “L’Autre St Helene.” He did extensive original research into who was on the island during Napoleon’s time. His website is http://www.lautresaintehelene.com and his email is albert@benhamou.net. (Website and book in French; he speaks English.) I hope you enjoyed my site and that you find the information about your predecessor. Let me know what you learn.

    All the best,
    Margaret

  • September 2, 2011 - 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for late reply, I am back from hols, and didn’t see a notification on my email about your question. I haven’t heard of a Cosimini in St Helena. I cannot speak about Russia: there were over 500.000 soldiers who started this doomed campaign ! Unless you are a descendant of one of the Corsican or Elban people who were with Napoleon at St. Helena, such as Cipriani, Santini, or Gentilini?
    Take care
    Albert

  • Geneviève
    December 14, 2012 - 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Margaret,

    what a fantastic video! I was in Paris earlier this year and took particular interest in it’s history. This week, I visited a Napoléon exhibit at the Art Gallery of Hamilton,in Ontario (Canada). I much enjoyed the exhibit and it reignited my interest in all things French. I did a simple search on the internet to get more information about St.Helena and your website came up. You have a great websight. What a wonderful job you have done. Thank you! Geneviève

  • mrodenberg
    December 30, 2012 - 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Geneviève. While I took most of the photos, my husband Bert deserves credit for putting together the video of them (not to mention credit for traveling with me halfway around the world to take them). I hope you continue learning about Napoleon–although I warn you, it can become an endless pursuit. Enjoy!

  • Maria Soledad Flaugher
    July 29, 2013 - 11:07 am | Permalink

    Wonderful! Your video amply satisfied my curiosity about St.Helena, Longwood and Napoleon’s tomb in particular. Thank you!

  • mrodenberg
    August 5, 2013 - 8:05 pm | Permalink

    I wish more Napoleon enthusiasts could visit this poignant place where so much of Napoleon’s spirit seems to remain trapped in time.

  • Bob Worrall
    October 17, 2013 - 11:05 am | Permalink

    Nice website. Did you pick up the story about the glue in the wallpaper in his bedroom perhaps contributing to his early demise. i got it from a BBC radio broadcast many years ago.
    I look forward to your book.Bob

  • mrodenberg
    October 24, 2013 - 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read that arsenic was more likely to be found in the wallpaper itself. At that time, green pigment commonly contained arsenic and could leech into the atmosphere when moist. Longwood House is definitely a moist environment.

    Thanks for visiting. Please keep in touch.

    Margaret

  • Jan
    July 14, 2014 - 4:06 pm | Permalink

    I found your great website while reading everything I can get my hands on about Napoleon. When we started planning our trip to Paris earlier this year, I came across a lot of information about him and have been pretty caught up learning all I can. Your videos and narrative are awesome. Its so nice to find others who share this fascination with such a unique man. I nearly cried as I watched your video of him on St Helena. First time I have found such great pictures of Longwood and also of the island. Thank you for sharing!

    I think its so sad, just wrong really, that he died like he did. I was surprised when talking to a few French people about Napoleon how their first reaction was what a “killer” he was. I agree. But when you put this part of his life into the context of the day, it is understandable to me. He did so many great things for France. I wish he would not have invaded Russia. That seems to be the beginning of the end for him.

    Also, do you think Josephine would have joined him on Elba, or St Helena had she not died shortly after he was exiled? If I remember correctly, she wrote him a letter saying she would come to him…. or was that something I read in a fiction article. Not sure now.

  • mrodenberg
    July 30, 2014 - 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Jan,

    Thanks for writing. I hope you have a great time in Paris, one of my favorite places. These days–and probably for the last two hundred years–you can find lots of different opinions about Napoleon, among the French and everyone else. As you said, there’s no question he should have avoided that disastrous venture into Russia. He did many great things for France and for European civilization by preserving what was best about the French Revolution: meritocracy. I’m not sure of your source about Josephine’s willingness to join him in exile. However, if they had stayed married, I have no doubt that she would have shown much more loyalty than his second wife, Marie Louise, ever did.

    I’m so glad that you enjoyed the St Helena video. It was truly a moving experience to be there.

    Enjoy your trip and let me know how it goes!

    All the best,
    Margaret

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