Napoleon Bonaparte’s account of his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, dictated and annotated through his exile on the island of St Helena, has absent on sale in Paris for €1m (£880,000).
The description of the struggle, whose tactic is nonetheless taught in French military educational facilities, is viewed by historians as proof of Napoleon’s need to document his hour of glory for posterity following his 1815 humiliation at Waterloo and subsequent capture by the British.
It was dictated to his loyal aide-de-camp Gen Henri-Gatien Bertrand, who remained with him in exile on the volcanic island in the middle of the South Atlantic ocean.
Densely published over 74 web pages, the manuscript recounts the December 1805 “day of the 3 emperors” clash with Russo-Austrian forces, which is thought of the Napolean’s biggest military victory. It can take audience as a result of preparations for struggle and the combating itself, and is done by a struggle strategy drawn on tracing paper by Bertrand.
The doc contains various corrections designed by Napoleon, who crossed out text and included remarks in the margins in very small creating. Napoleon does not refer to himself in the 1st man or woman, but prefaces his remarks with “the emperor says”.
The sale on Wednesday will come at the begin of a yr marking the bicentenary of Napoleon’s loss of life. Jean-Emmanuel Raux, a gallery operator and collector of French imperial memorabilia, identified the manuscript in a trove of documents belonging to Bertrand’s heirs.
“It’s the most amazing doc about French history that you could find in a personal collection,” he mentioned. His daughter Alizee, who studied the manuscript in element, mentioned it was an “embellished account of the battle”.
“It can be viewed in the intonation of the sentences,” she included.
The Battle of Austerlitz took put on the 1st anniversary of Napoleon’s coronation as emperor. The working day just before the struggle, he wrote: “I regret to consider that I will get rid of several of these brave adult men. I truly feel poor, it would make me fee that they are truly my youngsters, and, in reality, I reproach myself in some cases for this emotion due to the fact I panic that it will conclude up building me incapable of war.”
Within about nine hours on two December 1805, about seventy five,000 troopers of Napoleon’s Grande Armée outmanoeuvred a larger Russian-Austrian power at Austerlitz, in what was then the Austrian empire. Portion of the Russian power drowned in frozen lakes.
It served to conclude the coalition among Francis I of Austria and Tsar Alexander I of Russia that had been financed by Britain. The struggle is studied in military educational facilities, which includes the prestigious St Cyr in France, to this working day.
Napoleon facts all the methods he deployed to dupe his opponents into believing that French forces had been weak – which includes earlier retreats and negotiations that disguised the simple fact he had by now decided on the website of the struggle. His exalted account trumpets the heroism of the French, from trooper to officer, and promises even wounded troopers hailed the emperor.
The manuscript would make substantially of heroism and enthusiasm for the struggle. “Not an officer, not a normal, not a soldier was there who was not decided to gain or perish,” Napoleon writes. When he walks the battlefield littered with dead and wounded following the struggle he provides: “Nothing was more touching than to see these brave people recognise him. They would overlook their suffering and say: at the very least victory was nicely-certain.”
The enemy is taken care of with pity and magnanimity. Recounting how he tackled a wounded Russian soldier, Napoleon recalls: “For acquiring been defeated, 1 does not cease to be among the the brave.”
The manuscript will be exhibited till the conclude of the month at the Paris gallery Arts et Autographes, as nicely as on the internet for opportunity overseas prospective buyers.
The sale is section of the Brafa in the Galleries art reasonable using put in 126 galleries in thirteen international locations from 27 to 31 January.