Notes: Episode 13, Napoleon (Part 1)

As with every show, I’ll list any corrections or clarifications here. If there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please contact me by email or in the comments and I’ll edit the notes to reflect the new information.


7:51 – I can’t stress enough how poor an overview of the French Revolution is. There are a lot of resources out there which can give you an idea of what happened there, and I would strongly recommend you look for one of those, because after this whole Napoleon thing I feel like I’ll probably never cover it in its entirety, though a piece might be possible. Mike Duncan’s “Revolutions” podcast is currently going through the French Revolution and as of this episode is on its eighteenth episode, which should give you an idea. It’s a really good show, and not a bad place to start if you’d like to know more.


10:14 –  “It is by making myself Catholic that I brought peace to Brittany and Vendée. It is by making myself Italian that I won minds in Italy. It is by making myself a Moslem that I established myself in Egypt. If I governed a nation of Jews, I should reestablish the Temple of Solomon.” – Napoleon Bonaparte. Essentially a comment on his flexibility and ambition, as well as his lack of loyalty to any one source of power.


16:33 – It was the Battle of the Pyramids, not the Battle of the Sphinx. I still think it sounds pretty cool.


16:56 – I misspoke again here; French navy, not English.


20:42 – The painting we’re discussing here isNapoleon Crossing The Alps” by Jacques-Louis David. It’s one of the most recognizable paintings out there, and was commissioned by Napoleon as a propaganda piece. I have to admit, he does look pretty magnificent.


21:15 – The first episode of that Germany episode can be found here.


25:12 – Napoleon actually didn’t have any legitimate male children in 1804, so his hopes for succession were through his brother Joseph.


35:02 – The correct quote here is “I do not say, my Lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea.” – John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent


36:23 – The Netherlands weren’t actually part of the Confederation of the Rhine. They were, however, part of the Batavian Republic and then the Kingdom of Holland – both of which were French protectorates anyway.


50:15 – To give some perspective, institutionalized serfdom wasn’t abolished in Russia until 1861. Most countries in Europe had gotten rid of it by the time of the Napoleonic Wars, and in many cases several hundred years before. Obviously this isn’t an absolute measure of societal progress, but the issue with Russia isn’t any one metric; it’s that they lag by around this interval on most metrics.


53:50 – By a “small battle” at Smolensk, I mean tens of thousands on each side engaged, with total casualties between 8,000 and 20,000 combined. I kind of understated that one.


1:02:50 – Louis XVIII was actually the brother of Louis XVI.


1:04:31 – The actual quote was”Here I am. Kill your Emperor, if you wish.” I guess my version of “if you want to shoot me, shoot me” is a little more casual than the Emperor would have brought to bear. The response of the troops was shouts of “vive l’Empereur!”


1:06:31 – I knew this one was wrong shortly after it came out of my mouth. Le Dauphin (the Dolphin, the traditional title of the heir to the French throne) in The Man In The Iron Mask is Louis XIV. It’s been a few years since I read the book.


1:07:00 – As I mentioned in an earlier note, Louis XVIII was Louis XVI’s brother.


1:09:32 –  The Prussian commander at Waterloo was Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, and that’s why I couldn’t remember his name.


1:11:32 – Almonds contain cyanide, not arsenic.

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