October

October - James TissotOctober is a busy month for hatches, matches and despatches in A Set of Lies.
In October 1816 Sir Bernard Lacey (spymaster to the Duke of Wellington) married Constance Shaw, a marriage witnessed by his neighbour, the man now known as Claude Olivierre.
On 2 October 1882, Sir Bernard’s younger grandson, Sir Augustus Lacey, was murdered by cut throats in the back streets of London leaving his wife of little more than six weeks and his unborn son. Almost exactly 35 years later, 31 October 1917, that son (Sir Bertie) died after being hit by a car during an air raid in London.
On 21 October 1890 Sir Bernard’s youngest great grandson, Henry Lacey, was born. He lived a long life and played a critical role in preserving an important locket.
The last baronet of the Lacey line, Sir Arthur Lacey, Sir Bernard’s only great great grandson, was born 14 October 1935.
Confused? You won’t be when you read A Set of Lies.
As the history of the Lacey family unfolds the secret of the man they knew as Claude Olivierre is exposed.

 

The last days of Power and Freedom

LignyNapoleon, having escaped Elba, re-established himself as Emperor and raised a vast (if largely untried) army, was facing the combined forces of Austria, Prussia, Russia and the United Kingdom who threatened to invade France. On the basis that attack is the best form of defence Napoleon sought to defeat the Prussians and the British before the armies could link up and on 15th June 1815, by clever use of misinformation, established his position between those two armies in what is now southern Belgium.

On Friday 16th June 1815 two of the main protagonists of the more famous battle which was to follow two days later faced each other in the Battle of Ligny.

Field Marshal Blücher, commanding the Prussian army (84,000 strong), was facing up to the Armée du Nord (68,000 men) under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte. 24,000 men were killed or wounded.

The Duke of Wellington had been caught unprepared as he was, famously, attending the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels when he was told of the proximity of the French. He engaged a smaller French army at Quatre Bras. 9,000 men were killed or wounded.

Two days later, Sunday 18th June, the French fought the British under Wellington and, against all odds, Blücher’s battered Prussian army arrived on the field of Waterloo just in time to turn the tide of battle against Napoleon. 65,000 men were killed or wounded.

History records that these mid-June days two hundred years ago were the last days of Napoleon’s power and freedom.

But perhaps what history records of the events after June 18, 1815 is all A Set of Lies.

 

Anniversaries

Coat of ArmsMay 1st was the anniversary of Wellington’s birth (probably in Dublin but there is a little doubt about that). Being born on 1st May in 1769 he was just a few months older than Napoleon Bonaparte who was born in Ajaccio, on the Isle of Corsica on August 15th 1769.

May 5th is the anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s official demise on the island of St Helena. By 1821 he had been in exile on that island for more than five years and was 51 years old. Wellington lived on until September 1852 – dying at the grand old age of 83.

Well – these are the official facts.

It’s interesting that the information on the internet is frequently completely wrong. One website has Napoleon Bonaparte dying on 5th May but being buried in Les Invalides in Paris on the 7th – that would have been good going even with today’s transportation methods!

Other inaccuracies occur on the internet but the interesting one (almost, I would say, a Freudian slip) is that one well used and respected website has him dying in the United Kingdom. As a protectorate it is possible to say St Helena was ‘The United Kingdom’ but I prefer to think that – as described in A Set of Lies – he died on another island of the UK – the Isle of Wight – and that he outlived the Duke by six months.