(Article changed on March 15, 2013 at 16:47)
(Article changed on March 15, 2013 at 16:36)
Bibliothèque de l'Ordre des Avocats, Palais de Justice de Paris by raphael.chekroun
Lost Warriors by didy b
In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte, the First Consul of the French Republic quelled an extended plot against him, funded lavishly by English. In that plot for the first time the Royalists and Jacobins united in one organization and with one goal in mind. A sweep of arrests revealed several long -- term plans meticulously developed by people whom Napoleon knew personally. General Moreau was exiled to the US. General Pichegru was found strangled in prison. The subsequent trial sentenced thirteen more plotters to death. Napoleon's police though continued the investigation and insisted that the plotters were in concert with one of the former French Royals, currently living in Germany. They did not know which one though.
Napoleon, being a man of action found a culprit in a young and dashing duke of Enghien, two years younger than the First Consul. The duke, the last descendant of the Konde family spends his pension from England having fun in the German border town of Ettenheim, just across the Rheine. There he watches France through the telescope and boasts to his friends that the time will come when he returns to Paris. He seems all talk and nothing else. French agents discard him as a hopeless buffoon useful though to uncover his connections. Nevertheless, Napoleon decides to make an example of him. First Consul himself plans the kidnapping operation down to the last detail. The special forces unit of the time raids the peaceful German town and seizes the duke. He then is brought in secrecy to Vincennes castle and tried by a Military Commission with no lawyers present. The young man behaves bravely and denies any plots although admits his bad feelings towards the French Republic. He is sentenced to death by firing squad. Napoleon tells his confidants that he will pardon the young man but on the same night the duke is executed.
That's when Talleyrand, the grand sage of Foreign Affairs says to Napoleon, "That was worse than a crime; that was a blunder."
First Consul felt something wrong but he brushed that aside. He did not understand that that seemingly unimportant act, one of many was a signal to Humanity as it was at that time that it was dealing with someone who does not care for any laws, much less the ones of his own, a Barbarian masquerading as a future new ruler of the world. And the reaction was very swift indeed. Fairly soon the same Talleyrand offered his services to Russia as a covert agent. In the private discussion with the Czar Alexander he muses, "Russia is not civilized but its sovereign is. France is civilized but its ruler is not." Talleyrand risks his life but his decision is made.
The shadow of the blunder follows Napoleon ever since. In the peak of his fame, after entering Moscow he writes a letter to Alexander, offering peace with the best intentions. Commander- in -- Chief Kutuzov answers icily , "War had only started."
During the subsequent campaign after the total failure in Russia, the European Coalition forces become relentless; at the "Battle of Nations' at Leipzig, a Swedish Army, lead by Bernadotte, former Napoleon's marshal enters the battle on the side of the Coalition and French are defeated. Moreover, when in 1815 Napoleon escapes from Elba and after his triumph in France offers peace to all powers- they immediately unite against him; on the fateful fields of Waterloo English and Prussians deliver a final blow to the Barbarian from Corsica. That was the final consequence of the blunder in 1804.
History laughs at us sometimes. Napoleon, of course, was not only much more a personality and a statesman than Bush and Obama risen to the power of ten. Unlike them he not only built his own destiny but France also; he sure as Hell had all the right to be afraid and even paranoid for his safety; just before that plot an incendiary device exploded on his way, killing a lot of people. Napoleon also was technically an autocratic dictator, the First Consul was fully within his power and right to do what he did. And still, it was WORSE THAN A CRIME. It was worse than even killing 5000 Turkish prisoners during the campaign in Egypt. It was worse than a crime because at that very moment he lost the spiritual support of all progressively thinking people in Europe; in their minds he stopped being an enlightened leader of the New Order and became one of many ruthless powermongers, the ones that were a many before and will be a many after. He lost the support of the people. They returned to their usual indifference. And he did not even notice that. But Talleyrand noticed.
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