The Opportunistic Emperor (Snippets 56)

Windows into History

Bellerophon_and_NapoleonIn 1835 an Autobiography of an Irish Traveller was published anonymously, although the author reveals his identity during the course of the book as Walter Brabazon, from Cork. He met many interesting people during his travels, but one of his most fascinating anecdotes concerns an old soldier he met in France. He was a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, and offered a valuable insight into the character of the Emperor. Napoleon broke with tradition by promoting soldiers to the officer class on basis of merit rather than just background, and the following is a good example of how he made the best of the people he had to work with. It is quite a lengthy quote due to its anecdotal nature, but it is well worth the effort, because it is a lovely little story!

On arriving near the town, we saw a diligence, full of passengers, sticking fast in…

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