Happy 246th birthday Napoleon

LetiziaIn Ajaccio, on the island of Corsica, on 15th August 1769 Maria Letizia Ramolino (here pictured somewhat later), wife of Nobile Carlo Maria di Buonaparte gave birth to a son they named Napoleone.
Despite Napoleone being their fourth child (though only the second to survive) Carlo Maria was still a young man of 23, and Maria Letizia was only 17 having been born on 24th August 1750.
They had married in 1764 when she was 13 (some say 14) and her husband was just 18 (some say 17) and soon after the children came.
The first named Napoleone was born, and died on 17th August 1765. The second, Maria Anna, died at 363 days old in January 1768. The third, a son born only 6 days after his sister died was named Joseph and he survived to become King of Naples and Sicily, and King of Spain and the Indies. The fourth was Napoleone, named after his dead eldest brother, lived to become Emperor of the French. Nine others followed, of whom six survived.
Patience Olivierre in A Set of Lies bore only four children; two sons, both named Charles who died in infancy, and a daughter who died at almost exactly a year old christened Mary Lettice. She also had a daughter who did survive, Josephine.
It is when Fergal, Skye and Carl discover the names of those Olivierre children, reflecting as they did names from the Bonaparte family, that they really begin to believe that they could prove that Patience’s husband Claude was not who he was made out to be.



Le quatorze juillet


Young Corsican Idealist NapoleonNot yet 20 years old Napoleon Bonaparte was nowhere near Paris when the Bastille was stormed on July 14 1789. In many ways, that has been a much over-rated event. There were no prisoners of note to be freed so the attack was more of a symbolic act (and an attempt to get hold of the vast amount of gunpowder stored in the fortress).
A sous lieutenant in the most prestigious regiment of artillery in the French Army, Napoleon supported the revolution but spent those early years of turmoil on an extended leave of absence on Corsica leading a battalion of republican volunteers in the complex war for the independence of the island of his birth.
26 years later to the day Napoleon’s representatives were concluding their negotiations with Maitland on the Bellerophon. Napoleon, holding court in the Hotel in the Grand Place of Rochefort, still had hopes of sailing to the United States or, as an alternative, repeating the experience of his brother Lucien who had lived under a system of parole in Ludlow, Shropshire and on his estate near Worcester between 1810 and 1814.
Amongst the many tons of baggage Napoleon had with him in Rochefort were favourite portraits, uniforms and other mementoes of his life including a flag of Corsica.

In A Set of Lies it is this flag that Skye Lacey discovered which, along with other items, led to her suspicions about a previous occupant of her house on the Isle of Wight.