Eusebio Leal Spengler Dead at 77
He was the Historian of Havana, Cuba and was responsible for preserving and restoring much of the Old city of Havana. He was noteworthy in Napoleonic circles because of his work to restore the Museo Napoleonico, a truly amazing collection of Napoleonic artifacts. It features furniture, sculpture, paintings and weapons. His office and museum staff were instrumental in making our 2017 Conference one of our most memorable ones.
Today, August 15 is the 251st anniversary of Napoleon’s birth in Ajaccio, Corsica. Of course there are no paintings of Napoleone di Buonaparte as an infant, as his years of fame were well in the future. So we offer a painting of his son Napoleon François Joseph Charles Bonaparte in an unlikely pose.
The Napoleonic historical Society commemorates this date by making it the start of our membership year. If you have not yet received a renewal email from us, you soon will. Of course we hope all our members will continue for another year. We will be changing the password to our Members area next month, so you may want to renew soon. New members are welcome to join any time.
The NHS and INS Have Canceled Their 2020 Conferences
Like many other organizations, we felt we had to cancel our 2020 conference as a safety precaution during the pandemic. The International Napoleonic Society felt the same way.
NHS President Edna Mueller said “With great reluctance, on behalf of the Board of Directors I am cancelling the annual conference scheduled for November in New Orleans. I know this will be a big disappointment to many, but given the situation we really have no choice.”
INS President David Markham said “It is with a heavy heart that I must cancel the 2020 INS Congress scheduled for Warsaw, Poland, this coming July. This brings great personal disappointment to me and I know for many of you as well, but I feel that I have no choice.”
New 1809 Research Society NewsletterThe 1809 Research Society just published its October/November newsletter. Despite the name of the society, not all the articles focus specifically on 1809. For example this one has an articles on Austerlitz, Napoleon’s son and the composer Hayden in addition to topics relating directly to that year. You can read issues at the website of IRS founder Ferdi Irmfried Wöber.
Read the Report on Our Montréal ConferenceOur 2019 conference was held September 13-15. As usual, a fine time was had by all! You can read about the dinners, talks and excursions here. We hope you can join us next year.
Remains of General Who Died in the Russian Campaign FoundRemains likely to be that of General Charles-Etienne Gudin were found in Smolensk by a team of French and Russian archaeologists. Gudin was hit in his legs by a cannonball. His left one had to be amputated, and he did not survive. He was 44. The injuries to his skeleton were consistent with his wounds. Researchers plan to compare its DNA to that of Gudin’s descendents. Napoleon was one of the last people to see him alive and had his heart returned to Paris.
New Archaeological Discoveries at WaterlooWe previously told readers about the Waterloo Uncovered Project, a research project founded and staffed by British veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. These veterans now enjoy studying a past war.
Now a new article in the Washington Post discusses some of their discoveries at the Mount St. Jean field hospital, which was not previously excavated. About 6000 men were treated at the hospital during the battle. The team discovered severed limbs, which provide the first evidence that amputations were done in the field. They also found dozens of musket balls and a howitzer shell, which strongly suggests there was a previously unknown fight at or very near the hospital. This battle likely caused many to have to flee just after being wounded, magnifying their suffering.
A New Newsletter Covering the Napoleonic EraThe International Research Society has issued its first newsletter on the history of the Napoleonic era. The society plans to issue additional newsletters in the coming months. The newsletters cover a wide variety of topics and focus in particular on recent research. Articles in the first issue include discussions of armies and troops, battles, propaganda, occupations, military equipment, the effects of the war and more.
A unique feature of the Newsletters is that they include articles in English, German and French. Most of the articles written in German and French have English summaries. Many of the articles are documented with footnotes and references.
You can read issues at the website of IRS founder Ferdi Irmfried Wöber at his site. As of this writing, the title of the page shows 1809 Napoleon and Austria and Hungary, but the newsletters are not limited to that year or those countries. The first issue includes articles covering France, Austria, Italy and the Scandinavian countries. Future issues are planned for August and November.
Visitors to his site can reach the newsletters using the menu (three horizontal bars) on the upper right of his page. NHS members can also find his newsletters on our Members/All Newsletters page.
A Marriage for the History BooksWell, a footnote anyway. A descendent of Napoleon’s brother Jerome is now engaged to a descendent of Francis I of Austria, father of Napoleon’s second wife Marie-Louise. Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte, who is considered the current head of the Imperial family, is engaged to Countess Olympia von und zu Arco-Zinnerberg.
The wedding is set for this October. The couple say that their upcoming marriage is a love match and that the family histories are just a happy coincidence.
Smithsonian Magazine Features Napoleon on CoverThe cover story of the April 2019 issue of the Smithsonian is about Napoleon on St. Helena. The article covers some details about Napoleon’s experience on the island and also about the author’s visit to the island and dinner at Napoleon’s residence Longwood House with the honorary French consul. It also mentions the current islanders expectations of a surge in visitors to correspond with the 2021 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s death.
Havana Sonic Attack Mystery May Have Been SolvedSo what does this have to do with Napoleon? The NHS held its 2017 conference in Havana. A couple months before the conference the US government alleged that State Department personnel working for the Havana embassy had been targeted in a sonic attack. Various symptoms were described. The State Department issued a travel advisory against traveling to Cuba.
The advisory convinced a few people who were planning on attending to cancel. But most of us went anyway and had a particularly interesting time at one of our very most memorable conferences ever.
As a result of a recent reanalysis of the audio recordings, scientists in the US and UK now believe that the true source of the “attack” was the song of the Indies short-tailed cricket! The cause of the health problems some diplomats reported remains unclear, however.
Napoleon’s Waterloo Hat Sold at Auction
The hat Napoleon wore at the Battle of Waterloo recently sold at auction for the $325,000, far exceeding the preauction estimate of $35,000-46,000. It was sold at the auction house De Baecque.
Napoleon wore many similar hats over the years. He typically had about 12 in service at any one time, with four new ones each year replacing ones that wore out. Since there were so many, even though many are in museums, it is not very unusual for one to come up for sale. Of course this one is among the most valuable, because of when he wore it.
Napoleonic Graphic Novel Released
What we believe is the first fictional, English-language, original graphic novel set in Napoleonic Europe is now being published online. It is called Empire on Edge and you can see it by clicking on its name.
From author Jonah Newman: Empire On Edge is an epic tale of war, revolution, idealism, brutality, friendship, and family set in the last five years of the Napoleonic era. Against the backdrop of sweeping events including the burning of Moscow and the Battle of Waterloo, seven fictional French revolutionaries who call themselves the Genevan Society fight to bring Napoleon down. As the Emperor’s career approaches its legendary conclusion, the Genevans test the limits of activism and their bonds with each other.
Italian Government Disputes Purchase
by The Frick Collection
The Frick Museum in New York purchased a full-length portrait of Prince Camillo Borghese painted by noted Napoleonic era painter François Gérard last December. Now, months later, the Italian government retroactively rescinded its export permit and wants the painting back, saying it is an important part of their national patrimony.
Prince Borghese, a noted patron of the arts, was married to Napoleon’s sister Pauline. Gérard also painted portraits of other members of the Bonaparte family, including Napoleon.
The gallery that sold the painting to the Frick said it followed all the proper procedures when applying for the export license and was granted the license months before the sale. Proceedings are pending in Italy.
International Napoleonic Society
As previously announced on this page, our sister organization the International Napoleonic Society is holding its 16th Congress in Vienna on July 9-15, 2018. They have now published the Congress Program. This weeklong event includes four days of talks at the Palais Eschenbach and three days of tours of museums, palaces and battlefields. One highlight will be a reception at the Vienna City Hall hosted by the Lord Mayor, followed by a gala dinner.
July Congress Program Announced
Napoleon the Strategist Exhibition Musée de l’Armée – Now through July 22The Musée de l’Armée now has a major exhibit celebrating Napoleon as a strategist. The exhibit includes over 200 works and objects. It provides background and context, as well as an analysis of his most famous battles. The exhibit includes multimedia tools that provide an immersive experience.
You can learn more about the exhibit here .
The Fondation Napoleon actively participated in the exhibition by loaning objects and helping finance the exhibition catalog.
Waterloo Uncovered Project Review ReleasedThe Waterloo Uncovered project was founded to conduct archaeological excavations at the Waterloo battle site. While Waterloo is probably the most studied battle in history, the site has not been subject to as much rigorous archaeological study as one might expect. The project has now released a review of the first two years of excavations and made it freely available to the public.
The project review includes a history of the battle as well as a description of the project and findings to date. It also has profiles of a number of the participants in the project. They will back on site at Waterloo July 8-20, 2018. If you would like to follow their work you can sign up for their newsletter, or follow them on FB.
Napoleonic Medals Auction
Heritage Auctions auctioning the Charles J. Ricard Collection of Napoleonic Medals. They are mostly commemorative medals, rather than medals awarded by the state. You can view their lots here.
May 27, 2018
Major Napoleonic Exhibit in Montréal
The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts is putting on Napoleon: Art and Court Life in the Imperial Palace. The exhibit will include 200 artworks and objects, such as furniture, silverware and porcelain, tapestries, silk hangings and court dress, most of which have not been shown in North America previously. The exhibit has been organized with the support of the Château de Fontainebleau and the Mobilier National de France and has works on loan for many institutions.
Now through May 6, 2018
The focus is on the Imperial Household and how it helped to shape the image of the Emperor. The exhibit is divided into sections that correspond to different aspects of the work of the Household. The exhibit concludes with a section on the household in exile.
The exhibit also includes a special family-oriented area with attractions such as a gallery of mirrors and a throne room.
The exhibit seems well worth a visit.
Nelson Memorabilia Sold for Very High PricesThere were a number of items of Nelson memorabilia at a Sotheby’s auction in London on January 17, 2018. Two stand out:
A fragment of a Union Jack, believed to have been flown by HMS victory at the Battle of Trafalgar sold for $409,000. It was approximately 34″ x 36″, which Sotheby’s described as “exceptionally large.”
A portrait of Emma Hamilton portrayed as a Sibyl by Gavin Hamilton sold for $508,000.
Another related notable item was a painting entitled THE OPENING ENGAGEMENT AT TRAFALGAR; H.M.S. ‘ROYAL SOVEREIGN’ RAKING THE STERN OF THE SPANISH FLAGSHIP ‘SANTA ANA’ by John Wilson Carmichael sold for $326,000.
All three items items sold for multiple times their pre-auction estimates.
The auction consisted of items from various Royal and noble collections. There were a variety of other items relating to Nelson and the Royal Navy and sailing in general, but that was not a specific theme of the auction.
International Napoleonic Society Announces its 2018 Conference
The Sixteenth International Napoleonic Congress – Empires and Eagles: Napoleon and Austria – will take place in Palais Eschenbach Vienna, 9-15 July 2018. Vienna is a wonderful city, with an amazing assortment of cultural and historical attractions, many of them related to Napoleonic history. The Palais Eschenbach, completed in 1872, is one of Vienna’s treasures and home to many concerts.
The first four days of the conference will feature papers, and the last three days will feature tours of museums and battlefields. The Lord Mayor of Vienna will welcome us to city hall with a reception, followed by our annual Gala Dinner there.
Amazing Find – Waterloo FlagAn English collector purchased a box with flag parts in an online auction for £500. He was astonished to find the flag dates from 1815 and belonged to the Coldstream Guards 15th Light Company. Gary Lawrence had ‘no idea’ the flag was so rare. It might be worth as much as £300,000. He is currently working with the conservation staff at the Victoria and Albert Museum to restore it.
International Napoleonic Society Announces its 2017 ConferenceThe Fifteenth International Napoleonic Congress – Napoleon and Germany – will take place in Trier, Germany 10-14 July 2017.
Trier is the oldest city in Germany, located on the Mosel River across from Luxembourg. It is noted for its beauty and especially for its outstanding Roman ruins, as it was once the capital of the prefecture of the Gauls, controlling much of the Western Roman empire. Special thanks is due to Dr. Bill Chew for his work in organizing the congress. Two of our days will be spent touring important sites in Trier, with Dr. Chew serving as our guide. Below is a description of the extra-curricular activities.
Papers are still being accepted. You can find information here.
For further information contact J. David Markham, INS President at firstname.lastname@example.org or (416) 342-8081.
The Largest Napoleonic Event ever to be held in North America
Don’t miss your chance to experience a large Napoleonic Re-enactment without having to travel to Europe !
On Saturday June 24th & Sunday June 25th 2017, Old Fort Erie (in southern Ontario near Niagara Falls) will host a recreation of what the Spanish Campaign attacks on Badajoz & Ciudad Rodrigo were like. Hundreds of Napoleonic Re-enactors in authentic uniforms will be camped around the 1812 era fortress, practicing their Drill and maneuvers, firing their weapons, practicing their sabre fencing, playing 19th C. games, perhaps dueling (if the Gendarmes aren’t about), cooking their meals, and recreating the life of the Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillerymen of the early 1800’s. You are invited to stroll through the bivouac site to meet the soldiers, Cantinieres, and their Camp Followers. Ask them about their regiments, uniforms, weapons, and what their lives are like battling for The Emperor (or against the Ogre of Europe). Bring your cameras and take all the photos you want – we are all happy to pose for portraits.
Several times during the weekend, the British troops will mount a full scale attack, and attempt to break into the fort through a breech in the walls; while La Grande Armée, even though outnumbered 3:1 or more, will fight valiantly to hold their defensive stronghold. These skirmishes produce a lot of smoke, fire, and noise (they make great video opportunities) and will give you the real feel of 19th century combat.
For more information visit the Brigade Napoleon site.
M.S. Rau Antiques to Hold an Exhibition:
“Napoleon: General, Emperor, Legend”
in New Orleans
M.S. Rau Antiques will host a comprehensive exhibition Napoléon: General. Emperor. Legend. Legend. at their New Orleans’ gallery at 630 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA beginning November 5, 2016 to January 7, 2017. The show, which is open and free to the public, will feature the best of Napoléonic art and design and highlight an opulent display of the artistic styles championed by the Emperor during his reign in France.
Several NHS members will be getting together to view the exhibit. You are welcome to join the group. You can contact us by e-mail, if you would like more information.
HISTORY MADE AS FIRST EVER PLANE LANDS AT ST HELENA
History was made on St Helena at 13.50hrs GMT today, Tuesday 15 September 2015, as a Beechcraft King Air 200 aircraft (three photos attached) arrived from Angola and touched down at St Helena’s new Airport, prior to conducting a series of calibration flights.
Stepping out of the aircraft, Captain Grant Brighton said:
“It feels fantastic and we’re privileged to have flown the first plane to land on St Helena and to be part of your wonderful project.
“The trip over was good. It was interesting landing here, a bit windy on the threshold but a terrific runway, surface, Airport and facility.”
Watching the landing – together with numerous residents at various vantage points – Councillor Lawson Henry commented:
“First of all this is quite emotional – we’ve waited so long for this moment and it has finally happened. This is history in the making and we’re a part of it.”
Basil Read Island Director Deon de Jager added:
“It’s brilliant – all the hard work has paid off. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved – we’ve actually done it.”
Airport Project Director Janet Lawrence said of the day:
“I honestly can’t describe today. Years of planning and thousands of man hours have gone into this moment and to actually see it happen is an immense feeling.
“There are so many people we should be thanking, including people who can’t be here with us today. It’s not over yet – there’s still a great deal more to be done – but this event clearly shows that we’re going in the right direction.”
Greeting the crew on the Airport Apron, Governor Mark Capes remarked:
“Today we witnessed an event that will feature prominently in the history of this Island. For the Airport project another important piece of the jigsaw has slotted firmly into place. There are a few more vital pieces to be added before the picture is complete, but we are nearly there and I warmly congratulate everyone who has played a part in this extraordinary project.
“When we launched this work almost four years ago, such were the many obstacles to overcome that there were those who doubted that it would succeed and yet, behold, a plane has landed at St Helena Airport.”
Notes to Editors
The aircraft crew comprised Captain Grant Brighton, Co-pilot and First Officer Dillan Van Niekerk, Chief Aircraft Engineer Jeffrey McKenzie – all of TAB Charters, SA – together with FCSL Chief Pilot, Stuart Rawlinson, and Chief Flight Inspector Nick Whitehouse, also of FCSL.
The calibration tests will now commence. Several flights each day – weather permitting – will be undertaken.
15 September 2015