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Today is Napoleon’s Death Day.
…maybe that’s what it is.
Napoléon Bonaparte: 15 August, 1769 – 5 May, 1821
“Oh, you parliaments of England and you Holy Alliance,
On a prisoner of war, you can now har defiance.
For all your base intrigue, you never could demean him
& you exiled him to die on the isle of Saint Helena.”
- Frank Harte, The Isle of St. Helena
René Magritte The Future of Statues 1937 TATE Museum
oil on plaster
“This work is made from a commercial plaster reproduction of the death mask of the French Emperor Napoleon. Magritte painted at least five of these casts, each with sky and clouds. Discussing the works, the artist’s friend the Surrealist poet Paul Nougé suggested an association between death, dreams and the depth of the sky. He commented: ‘a patch of sky traversed by clouds and dreams [can] transfigure the very face of death in a totally unexpected way’.”
December 14th 1812: Napoleon’s invasion of Russia ends
On this day in 1812, Napoleon’s Grand Armée was expelled from Russia when the last French troops left, thus ending the French invasion of Russia. France’s failure was a decisive turning point in the Napoleonic Wars, and turned the tide of the war against the French and in favour of the coalition against them. Napoleon had begun the invasion in June 1812, but by the end his army of around 685,000 was down to 120,000. This was partly because his tactic of getting resources by ‘living off the land’ was thwarted by the harsh Russian winter and the Russian scorched earth tactic.