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March 12, 2024 38 mins

Was Napoleon a military dictator, or a man who did what was necessary in order to preserve a French republic that was crumbling? To discuss the coup in which Napoleon became "First Consul" of France, Dana is joined by Pascal Confraveaux from the French Embassy.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to Noble Blood, a production of iHeartRadio and Grim
and Mild from Aaron Manky. Listener discretion advised.

Speaker 2 (00:12):
It was in spring of eighteen o two that Ludwig
van Beethoven realized he was beginning to go deaf. In
an effort to pull himself out of a depression, he
left Vienna for a small village five miles to the
north to spend time in nature and see if he
could find any musical inspiration. It was on a walk

(00:34):
through the countryside that a melody popped into his head,
a theme in E flat major. Eventually, over a year,
that theme transformed into a full symphony, Beethoven's third titled
Roika or Heroic. People far more knowledgeable about classical music

(00:55):
than I am celebrate the symphony as groundbreaking, challenging, and brilliant,
a landmark of Beethoven's career that I've seen described as
the first Romantic symphony, marking the end of the classical period.
But it wasn't originally titled Eroika. It had an earlier name,

(01:17):
which Beethoven wrote himself on the symphony's title page. As
soon as the work was completed in early eighteen oh four,
Symphonia in Titulata Bonaparte Symphony titled Bonaparte. Though Beethoven was
German living in Austria, there was plenty about Napoleon he

(01:40):
found inspiring. Napoleon was only a year older than Beethoven,
and they had both come from families outside the nobility,
and they had both risen in the ranks because of
their ability. As a young man, Beethoven was inspired by
the promise of the French Revolution. He read philosophy and

(02:01):
celebrated the possibility of a truly enlightened state, But like
so many others in Europe, he became disillusioned as he
watched on and saw the bloody excesses of where the
revolution ended up. To Beethoven, Napoleon was a striking and

(02:21):
romantic figure who had returned to France from his military
victories abroad and was able to save the revolution from itself.
From seventeen ninety five on, France was governed by a
system known as the Directory, where there were five directors
and two legislative bodies, but the government was chaotic and inefficient.

(02:46):
With the exception of Napoleon's victories abroad, France had suffered
a string of humiliating defeats, trade routes were cut off,
land was sacrificed, and inflation was beginning to escape the
back of control. In seventeen ninety nine, there was a
coup ostensibly organized by one of the Directors, a man

(03:09):
popularly known as the abbey cs. Cs knew that the
delicate Directory was unstable, threatened by Royalists on the right
and Jacobean on the left, and a new government would
need to be established if the promises of the French
Revolution were to be preserved in any form. And what

(03:32):
better man was there to join him in that coup
than the popular hero Napoleon Bonaparte, the brilliant young general
who was met in the streets with cheers when he
returned from Egypt. But Napoleon orchestrated something of a coup
within a coup. After manipulating the legislative bodies of the

(03:56):
Directory to leave Paris, Napoleon brought in armed grenadiers to
ensure that in the new government, where there were supposed
to be three consuls, he Napoleon, would be the first
and most important consul. It was only called a coup
or coup within a coup in hindsight, At the time,

(04:20):
many including Beethoven, viewed Napoleon as a heroic figure, saving
the French government from itself in order to uphold republican ideologies.
Napoleon as consul was a Romantic figure out of classical antiquity,
like a sage Roman consul of old. But then Beethoven

(04:44):
got some bad news. In December eighteen o four, five
years after Napoleon became first consul and less than a
year after Beethoven named his new symphony after him, Napoleon
declared himsel self emperor. According to the most popular version
of the story, Beethoven became enraged and shouted quote, so

(05:09):
he is no more than a common mortal. Now he
too will tread underfoot all the rights of men and
indulge only his ambition. Now he will think himself superior
to all men and become a tyrant. Beethoven scratched over
the word symphony titled Bonaparte with so much force that

(05:30):
his pen ripped through the paper. The symphony was renamed
simply and vaguely heroic Eroika. Napoleon remains one of the
most popular and famous historical figures in European history. Recently,
he was the center of Ridley Scott's twenty twenty three

(05:51):
film starring Joaquin Phoenix. The French public had a fairly
negative reaction to the film, which might have had something
to do with how strange it must be for French
speakers to see Napoleon such an iconic French figure speaking
English with a full American accent. But the French public's

(06:14):
perspective on the real historical Napoleon is a little more complicated.
Was Napoleon the hero that France needed at the time,
a man who preserved the ideals of the revolution, encoding
them into the Napoleonic Code and giving the nation the
order it's so desperately needed. Or was Napoleon a military

(06:39):
dictator who dismissed a constitution he swore to uphold when
it suited him in his quest for greater personal power.
I'm Danish Swartz and this is noble blood. In order
to explore Napoleon's modern day reputae, especially the way he's

(07:01):
understood today in France, I'm thrilled to be talking about
the Coup of eighteen Brumaire, Napoleon's first major jump to power.
With Pascal Confrovo of the French Embassy in Washington, d C.
I am so thrilled to be here today talking to
Pascal Confrovo, who is the press counselor for the French
Embassy in Washington, d C. To talk about Napoleon with

(07:25):
me today. Pascal, thank you so much for joining me.

Speaker 3 (07:28):
Thank you for having me.

Speaker 4 (07:30):
Napoleon obviously has such a long and fascinating life. I mean,
I could do this entire podcast just about episodes from
his life, but we're going to focus a little bit
on the coup. In English, we would say November ninth,
but it's called the Coup of eighteen brumaire in French exactly.

Speaker 3 (07:49):
And thank you for for inviting us. What's what caught
our eyes and why we were happy to talk with
you that We're always happy when Americans like you and
your audience are interested in French history and French figures.
And we see that there is a big curiosity on

(08:10):
Napoleon and more broadly on the French Revolution. Uh and uh.
And the film of Scott of course, and that is
that very well.

Speaker 4 (08:18):
Yes, I mean, Napoleon is just one of the most
fascinating figures in history. I thought the movie was fun,
but obviously they took some historical liberties.

Speaker 5 (08:28):
Did you see it?

Speaker 3 (08:29):
I saw it. I watched it here of course before
before talking to you, And yeah, the least I can
say that it created some debate in France and also
I guess in the US.

Speaker 4 (08:41):
Yeah, I've heard that French people had had very strong
opinions on it.

Speaker 3 (08:46):
A lot of persons were saying it it was less
about nepleonself, that about Napleon and Jovishan, that it was
about the love affair, and that made somewhere advising to
to have a title that would be Nepoleon josephin That
makes a lot of sense.

Speaker 4 (09:02):
I also thought it was it's always a fun decision
on a movie's part to give a character. Obviously they're
speaking English in the film, but Joaquin Phoenix just speaks
English with no accent, and I think for some that
was a little disconcerting.

Speaker 3 (09:18):
Yeah, and it's always for a French speaking audience, it's
always interesting to see Napoleon speaks English. Indeed.

Speaker 4 (09:25):
Yeah, well, let's let's fast forward a little bit to
the coup that initially brought Napoleon to power, obviously before
he became an emperor. After the French Revolution, Napoleon was
a general and served served the Constitution after the French Revolution,
the Directory and won massive victories over in Egypt and

(09:50):
returned to Paris a hero. Can you speak a little
bit about what the Directory was like and what France
was like when Napoleon returned from Egypt.

Speaker 3 (10:00):
Yes, we was tver, and there was also a lot
of humility. Because I'm not speaking as a historian here,
but more as a civil servants, and so I may
not have all the little details. The date of eighteenth
of Brumeer and nineteenth brumer actually because they could takes
place on two days, is often taught at the end

(10:22):
of the revolution in the French history, and Napoleon at
that time was one of the youngest generals ever. He
was serving the Republic and was serving among them also
a man called Bajas, and he was coming back from Egypt.

(10:43):
It was the last military operation he did, which was
an operation less military than also a discovery. He had
worked with him a lot of scientists going to the pyramids.
He had discovered the Pierre deo Rosette, which was the
one afterwards that allowed everyone to understand what the hieroglyphs
were meaning, and so.

Speaker 5 (11:03):
He published the Rosetta Stone.

Speaker 3 (11:06):
Thank You, and so he was coming with a great aura.
And this see also in the film that he was winning.
He won some battle against the englishing tool in seventeen
ninety three, which also brought him a lot of a
lot of fame. And in seventeen ninety eight seventeen ninety nine,

(11:28):
you had a kind of fatigue in in France, a
fatigue of the worlds, because the revolution were also making
was also a synonym of wars in France, a fatigue
for the economy also, and I think he could feel
that that people were willing to see, as we say,

(11:50):
peace outside and order inside. And that's what he ran
on in a way in seventeen ninety nine when he
was coming back from Egypt.

Speaker 4 (12:01):
One thing that I think is so interesting is Napoleon.
You can obviously frame his actions in so many different ways.
One could frame what he did in overthrowing the Republic
and the government of the Directory as him trying to
save the revolution. This government was so unpopular, the economic
state in France was unsustainable. You could say that by

(12:24):
claiming power he was saving the government, saving the revolution,
or you could present this idea that he was simply
something of a military dictator. What do you think is
more of the popular conception of Napoleon in France as
it's sort of taught today.

Speaker 3 (12:42):
See exactly what you say. He was a master of
communication also in that day, and he was also the
one who wrote his own story history before the historians
to them, and so he was very good at managing
the image he wanted the people to have of him.
And he has the two party you're saying, he's at

(13:04):
the same time, and the coup is embodying that, and
the Empire afterwards is embedding that that there are some
lessons taken from the revolutions that will survive, the human rights,
the equality, the end of the privileges Frost the church
had or the nobility had, and so this will survive.

(13:26):
And so he is in that aspect, he is the
heir of the revolution. He is the one that will
put these results of the revolution in the long term
French political life. And at the same time, yeah, he
he creates a regime that has nothing to do with
the republican That was very that at the beginning, the

(13:47):
Consulate has the appearance of republican then, which will in
eighteen oh four become after after publicits will become an empire.

Speaker 5 (13:58):
Absolutely.

Speaker 4 (13:59):
One also interesting thing I feel like as an American,
I do feel like I have to voice our little
cameo that unfortunately, part of the problem of the runaway
inflation in France and the challenges that the French Republic
was facing economically was due to the fact that after
the American Revolution, the American government decided not to repay

(14:21):
some of the loans the way they were previously contracted,
because that contract had been with the French king who
was obviously no longer in charge of the government.

Speaker 5 (14:31):
So we had a little cameo there.

Speaker 3 (14:34):
There are debates on that I want indulged in it.
Which is true is that the two revolutions are very linked,
very much linked, and in spite of our histories earlier
seventeen seventy six, but with many French persons taking also
a part it of course Lafayette or Chambou, but also
the ideas are coming to France as well in seventeen

(14:57):
ninety nine a few years letter is our revolution that
started with many things among them was also public finances.
And so yes, there is definitely a link between the
two revolutions, and that also while our two countries are
so close in a way, and say, all just alliars,
but yes, indeed, at that time your first ambassador to

(15:21):
Paris is better man Franklin, and he makes he makes
a crowd in Paris. Everyone loves him. He's very good
public diplomacy at that time. Lafayette is a style in
the US. I would I could even say that I
think he's even more stylen in the US that he's
in France. But he's more well known here than than
in France.

Speaker 4 (15:41):
One more I find so fascinating whenever American figures pop
up in French history. Talleyrand, who obviously is a is
a massively important figure in French history, a man who
survived regime change after regime change, who initially you know,
helped Napoleon and his rise to power.

Speaker 5 (16:00):
Actoring the Republic.

Speaker 4 (16:01):
Tallyrand actually had to resign as Foreign Minister because he
was one could say, you know, politely requesting or demanding
a bribe of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars from
three American envoys, and American audiences might know one of
the envoys happened to be the future massive Supreme Court

(16:21):
Justice John Marshall and I just love realizing that two
totally disparate historical figures that you would learn about in
two different contexts actually interacted in that way.

Speaker 3 (16:33):
Yeah, and they learned lessons from each other. They interacted, Tanya,
you work quitting Wimmy. It's another so another French figure
less known than Napoleon, and he plays in a way
kind of continuity in French diplomacy among different regimes, starting
from the Republic, so the Consulate of the Empire, and
then he plays also a role in the restoration of

(16:55):
the King.

Speaker 4 (16:57):
I'm fascinated by Tallyrand. I remember reading that there was
sort of a parody book or pamphlet that came out
ranking the weather veins of French politics, as in men
who sort of changed their alliances, and itally Rand was
top of the list.

Speaker 3 (17:14):
Yeah. Yeah, And he has also a mixed image, I
guess legacy for that.

Speaker 4 (17:21):
I do always respect someone who is able to survive
in politics the way he did, and he was going
back to the coup. He was a major figure and
ally of Napoleon. Just to set the scene, the governmental
system was called the Directory.

Speaker 5 (17:37):
There were two.

Speaker 4 (17:38):
Government bodies, the Council of Ancients and the five hundred,
which was sort of the upper and lower legislative bodies.
Napoleon I think recognized among with other politicians at the
time that this government was not sustainable for the reasons
we talked about. And Napoleon was such a popular figure

(17:59):
that if he was sort of the spearhead of the coup,
it would be it would be successful. And so he
allied with a man known as Abb s S. And again,
if i'm if, I'm I'm almost humiliated to be attempting
to do French pronunciation in front of you. But what
I love is that Napoleon, even as these men were
sort of building a coup around Napoleon's popularity, Napoleon was

(18:22):
sort of planning a coup within the coup to establish
himself as the primary power.

Speaker 3 (18:30):
Exactly. And you see that also in the film I'll
say Ces and the Coup. He needed what we say sword,
He needed a saber to operate, to operationalize what he
was thinking. And so Bonaparte said yes, and they on
the eighteenth of Brumeer, everything happened as as planned. Basically,
they were resigning the directors, so the executive branch was

(18:53):
collectively resigning for the one who were among the coup,
and for the one who were not aware of the coup.
They were but forced to or under.

Speaker 5 (19:00):
Custody little either bribes or force.

Speaker 3 (19:05):
Exactly like pressure, and Napoleon was created. The one who
was in charge of the army protecting Paris, and the
council of the five hundreds that you were mentioning earlier
was sent to Sanclue, which is a city next to
not far from Paris, which was a bit further from

(19:25):
Paris to be more into a neighborhood. So eighteenth of
Rema works quite well for the plan. It's more nineteenth
of Remare, which is a bit trickier, but maybe you
want to tell it's now.

Speaker 4 (19:36):
Yeah, So step one goes according to plan. They're able
to pressure this council to sort of get outside the city,
come to the suburbs as it were. I think probably
for a few reasons, you know, to get away from
the military support that might undermine this coup. And I
believe if I'm correct, they were sort of able to
convince the council to come out to the suburbs by

(19:58):
saying that there was a jack of in coup that
was happening. Because the Jacobin, the more extremest revolutionary branch,
had been ousted from government a few months earlier, they
were able to sort of get the legislative body out
to the suburbs.

Speaker 5 (20:14):
And then when the.

Speaker 4 (20:16):
Legislative body realized that Napoleon walked into their chambers with
a force of military grenadiers, I think they all sort
of collectively realized, oh, we weren't brought out here for
our protection.

Speaker 5 (20:29):
Something really extreme is happening, and.

Speaker 3 (20:32):
They welcome in. Welcome is not a good word, but
they are very violent, a team of crazy. They expel
him from the from the from the room. They say
they treat him, they say that he's a dictator. It
seems that for a moment Bonaparte is is UH losing
faith in him, in him, in his good star. And

(20:54):
then there's a truck of of of history where actually
his brother Lucien is a head of the Council of
the five hundred and UH, and he's the one who
who has this stamina to delay the vote that was
going by the five hundred that was going to outlaw UH,

(21:14):
to outlaw Bonaparte. A bit like the same kind of
votes that was going that had outlawed Robes a bit
a few years earlier, and when at that time, when
you were outlawed, it was also meaning a bit death
at the same time. And and he delayed, he delayed
the vote, and uh, and go take the guards the

(21:36):
to to to come back in the in the in
the room and expel. Actually the h a big part
of the of this, this five hundred. And then they
declare with the one who stay and who are supported,
They declared the end of the directory, and they give
the executive power to three consoles. Uh did you crew end?

(22:00):
But apart so the first part of zuku. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (22:03):
And just to interrupt and backtrack a little bit, that
vote when the Council of five hundred were faced with
Napoleon coming in with soldiers and recognized that he was
attempting to overthrow the constitution and they were about to
declare him an outlaw. I'm so glad you brought up
what happened to Robespiear because I find it so fascinating
the contrast and how the two men responded. Robespear attempted suicide.

Speaker 5 (22:29):
I think actually the.

Speaker 4 (22:29):
Film depicted this quite accurately. Took a pistol attempted suicide
and failed and just just blew off his jaw, which
was a very grisly scene. But Napoleon, with the aid
of his brother, was able to slip out, avoid the
vote and then actually use the anger of the legislative

(22:50):
body to rally his troops. I think Napoleon's the loyalty
that he inspired in his troops was such a major
drive in his ability to to breach power, because as
he came.

Speaker 5 (23:02):
Out slightly worse for wear, literally.

Speaker 4 (23:06):
I think the another thing the movie accurately portrayed was
that the council kind of tried to physically attack him,
and he was able to use how sort of bloodied
and ripped up he was, with his brother Lucian pointing
at him and saying, look what they tried to do
to him, rally the troops to come back in within
a show of force.

Speaker 3 (23:27):
And Lucien at at that time it's saying that zie
one who are attacking Buonaparte aren't the real traitors and
that they are working for England, which is of course
the worst you can say at that time.

Speaker 4 (23:40):
Oh even imagine, of course, well who else would want
to betray the military hero Napoleon.

Speaker 3 (23:46):
Exactly, and you see all these scenes in the film.

Speaker 4 (23:50):
One thing that I think is so interesting is obviously
the idea of the coup was that there would be
three consoles, as you mentioned, but Napoleon fairly quickly manipulated
the constitution so that he, as first counsel, would have
much more power than the other two.

Speaker 3 (24:07):
Exactly. That's what you you call I think the cup
within the cup, right, And yeah, the three conculs are
not on the same are not at the same level,
and he will very swiftly consolidate his power, his grips
with the adoption of a new constitution, the consition of
the year eight we are in the revolutionary still calendar

(24:31):
at that time, and which gives him the authority to
have the first draft of the law. And also he
gives him also the visibility. I think in all this
there is also a communication part which is always very
important at that time, and he will have the leader
on the image and then the comes very quickly and

(24:54):
so yes, and are much less well known, and I
think he he differently worked for that.

Speaker 4 (25:02):
Yes, one scene that stuck with me from the movie
that of course was pulled directly from history because there
are so many scenes where you're like, well, this is
so cinematic, surely they just invented this. But when Napoleon
sort of stumbled out of the Council of five hundred,
when they sort of attacked him and Lucian was trying
to rally the troops, Lucian grabbed a sword and said,

(25:23):
I will kill Napoleon myself if he's a trader, And that,
of course inspired a lot of trust, and that to
me also speaks to I think from the outside. So
please correct me if I'm mistaken about the French perspective,
But I think Napoleon really was able to repair a
sense of national pride and nationalism. After the Revolution, France

(25:48):
had lost a lot of territories. Military defeats sort of
stripped them of the territories that they had won at
the end of the eighteenth century, like seventeen ninety six
and seven, they were cut off from German and Italian markets.
The so called you know, Second Coalition was sort of
turning on France and Napoleon just as a figure because

(26:09):
he had come from these amazing military victories, because he
was speaking so eloquently about the power of France and
invoking these political symbols meant to evoke you know, ancient Rome.
I think they're I mean, reading from the outside, it
seems very inspiring at a moment that there was a
great need for national pride.

Speaker 3 (26:32):
Yes among the results of the Napoleon movement and actually
of the revolution moment just before. He is a creation
of a nation, of a modern nation, a nation which
is not only embodied by a king, by a monarchy,
but a nation because it's a regroupment of people that
recognize themselves as member of a one entity. And so

(26:56):
it's exactly at this moment, and he's fostering them these
feeling of these nationals or patriotic feelings, and so he
does it actually in France, but also in the just
before with his first successors, and just also afterwards, actually
in first eighteen andreds. He is fostering the German national

(27:20):
sentiment or the Italian national sentiments. At that time, both
Germany and Italy were not one state, so they were federally,
they were kingdoms, sometimes depending together, sometimes completely standing alone,
and he's fostering that also at the same time to kill,
for instance, the former Holy Empire German Empire, which was

(27:46):
existing for since Shannon mine for a very long time,
for more than one thousand years, and the same time
in Italy where they were like small kingdoms, and he
is the instrument that is ring, among other things, the
feeling of an Italian identity and nationality.

Speaker 5 (28:07):
Absolutely, I think that's so interesting.

Speaker 4 (28:09):
America is such a young country, obviously compared to Europe,
but then you see that actually Germany as we know
it today and United Italy are more recent than I
think people realize. Italy wasn't unified until what was it,
eighteen seventy. I think that's so fascinating to point out
that Napoleon was a force behind some of that unifying sentiment.

Speaker 5 (28:33):
Can I ask? I think that.

Speaker 4 (28:35):
Even though obviously America and France were such great allies
during the American Revolution, I think that over the centuries,
America has sort of aligned itself with England and historically
at least has sort of an Anglophilic perspective on history.
And so I think when most people learn about Napoleon,

(28:55):
it's through an English lens. They only, you know, people
who are aren't aren't history bops, people who just know
the broad headlines. I think that Napoleon was short, which
you know, he was average height. That was sort of
British propaganda, and they sort of see him as the
the strong man of Europe, this dictator sort of the

(29:15):
way that I think he's he's more understood in in
England and Great Britain. Can you sort of speak to
how Napoleon is viewed today in France?

Speaker 3 (29:25):
I would say you to come back on your first
part of your of your question that yes, there is,
there is, of course, uh maybe a British lecture of
what you what you see of Napoleon. But I would
also say that you and we see it that you
have a French lecture of of of all service history.
When we see how popular the motto oldest allies is.

(29:48):
How you see when Nafayette is is celebrated here, when
you see maybe the importance of ruschabu uh celebrated on
the on the on the East coast. I mean, I
maybe it's not generally, but we at the West coast,
at the East coast, sorry, and in Washington, we feel,
we feel it. We we see this this stronger proximity.

(30:14):
And actually I don't know if Lafayette and Napoleon were
very closed. I guess they met a few times, but
they were not really not really closer both of them.
Both of them were very young. When Lafaette came he
was I think twenty three or twenty four in in
particuping in Yorktown, And when Napoleon became general, he was

(30:34):
also twenty four, so that you're really, really, really young.
I think one of the brothers of Napoleon settled afterwards
in New Jersey, or so Joseph, yeah, went to New Jersey,
I guess, but Naplone himself never went to the US,
And I guess Lafayette was seeing the US more as
a as a land of opportunity, whereas a Nepalon was

(30:56):
maybe seeing it more as a land of conquest, a conquest.
But I say because he was. He sold the Louisiana
in eighteen oh three. You remember that, of course, in
a in a.

Speaker 5 (31:07):
Very generous deal to us. I will say.

Speaker 3 (31:11):
Gigantic, which was on the left bank of Mississippi, I
frond the west bank of Mississippi. So just to just
to remind in the way, there is a kind of
American history of Napoleon that you could say, an American
angle of Naphleon history that actually as a that I

(31:33):
can hear when I'm when I'm here, and then now
I'm I do.

Speaker 5 (31:37):
I'm so sorry to interrupt, but I do.

Speaker 4 (31:38):
I actually, I think that's a very important point, just
to reiterate that it was Napoleon who sold Thomas Jefferson
the massive I mean, the Louisiana purchase was a massive
swath of what makes up the United States.

Speaker 3 (31:51):
So I think the double the size of the US
by then.

Speaker 4 (31:55):
Absolutely, if I if you, if any listeners who don't
actually remember the actual map, just google the Napoleon the
Louisiana purchase and you will see how vast that amount
of land is.

Speaker 5 (32:08):
That then, of course was explored by Lewis and Clark.

Speaker 4 (32:12):
But it's, uh, it's fascinating that Napoleon just sort of
obviously he was distracted by affairs happening in Europe, and
I think saw America as a bit of a an
albatross at that moment, like a little bit of a distraction,
but gave us a great deal.

Speaker 3 (32:28):
And then on the second part of your question, where
you're saying, Okay, what's the image we have, it's in
an image which is a complex. I'd say you have
an angle, which is artistry. We find, for instance, you
have this famous painting of David, which is the crowning
of the of Napoleon and Jeordiphoax.

Speaker 5 (32:48):
Napoleon crowning himself, and so this is.

Speaker 3 (32:55):
A painting that everyone knows that. For instance, it was
as the case a few decades ago. It's less the
case now. You had some persons really learning all the battles.
You know, it was a kind of part of the
how history was taught or learned. So it was going
from I don't know, Hotlits to Marango to also the

(33:16):
defeat the Mosque Va, the Russian campaign or traffic down.
But you had this I think it's a bit less
now the case that we learned of him, we learn
of him also about the results. So all this kind
of what we could master Grant. I don't know how
to translate that really granite mass. It's the kind of

(33:39):
big institution that he created and that survived afterwards. You know,
in the nineteenth century, I think we in France we
tried every kind of regime possible, from an empire to republic,
to kingdom to everything, and these kind of institutions survived.
You had the civil code, for instance, that he created
and that survived and it still exists. Now you have
this creation of the Federal Reserve, which is called band

(34:03):
de France. But you had the creation of the Lease,
which is a high school, which was very different at
that time. It was quite a bit military, but we
still survive. Now, we had the creation of the institution
of the prefet. You don't have prefe here, but it
would be a kind of of governor in a state
that would be appointed by the federal state and not

(34:24):
elected by his constituent, and that would represent that would
represent more the capital of the federal capital than the
So all these institutions still still exist. And we also
learn of course by the the part which are darker,
such as haiti or slavery. And because it's a very

(34:47):
important and I think that's where we are in France
to give the closest to reality to truce history that
we can do.

Speaker 4 (34:57):
Yeah, I mean, because Napoleon is he's a fascinating figure,
I think because of his many contradictions. Obviously, the Napoleonic
Code was so vital to upholding, you know, basic French rights.
And even though Napoleon initially upheld the revolutionary ban on slavery,
he did at a certain point undo that and and

(35:18):
reinstitute slavery in the in the French colonies.

Speaker 3 (35:22):
Yeah, exactly. And so this is something that we don't
put under the run at all. This is something that
we uh that we learn are among everything, and so
it's always also interesting. So you have this reality and
then you have the willyas of how history is stalled
about him, because I was sing also at the beginning
that he was among the he was the first also
to tell his own story, the memoirs, the own numoir

(35:45):
when he was on the Santa Anna island after the
after his fall, and then also so many historians on there.
It's one of the of the subjects in the French
history which is the richest, I mean in so many
people who went on there. And so you have some
who who like and who will try to keep on

(36:08):
in the wake of the strong man who and tried
to say, oh, France at that time was strong. And
you will have the others who will who will go
more on the institution that we that that he built.
And so you have in a way tell me what
the image of Nemylon, of Nepoleon you have, and I

(36:30):
will tell you who.

Speaker 4 (36:31):
You are that's brilliant, Thank you. I mean that, that's
what a perspective I think. Napoleon is absolutely something of
a cipher. It's something of a In English, we would
call it a Rorjack test, where you can look at
him and what you well, Pascal, thank you so much
for joining me. This was such a fascinating conversation, and
I'm so happy to get to talk about one of

(36:52):
my favorite historical figures, Napoleon with you.

Speaker 3 (36:55):
Thank you, thank you so much. And at the Frenchiman, see,
we are always glad when in the US you are
interested in French history, and in this case in the
French history which is European, his world history also, but
also something very linked to American history at that.

Speaker 4 (37:12):
Time, incredibly linked to American history. And please come back
at any time and talk more.

Speaker 1 (37:20):
Noble Blood is a production of iHeart Radio and Grimm
and Mild from Aaron Mank. Noble Blood is created and
hosted by me Dana Schwartz, with additional writing and researching
by Hannah Johnston, Hannah Zwick, Mira Hayward, Courtney Sender, and
Lori Goodman. The show is edited and produced by Noemi

(37:43):
Griffin and rima Il Kahali with supervising producer Josh Thain
and executive producers Aaron Manke, Alex Williams, and Matt Frederick.
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