A rare letter of Napoleon during his "100 Days" escape from exile, and the only letter of his relating to these elections we have seen reach the market
In October of 1813, the army Napoleon had rebuilt after his debacle in Russia fought the coalition of European nations arrayed against him at the Battle of Leipzig. The allied forces defeated Napoleon, who realized his position was untenable. After much negotiating and wrangling, the Treaty of Fontainebleau was signed on April...
In October of 1813, the army Napoleon had rebuilt after his debacle in Russia fought the coalition of European nations arrayed against him at the Battle of Leipzig. The allied forces defeated Napoleon, who realized his position was untenable. After much negotiating and wrangling, the Treaty of Fontainebleau was signed on April 11, 1814, and it laid out the terms imposed by the victors. Pursuant to one of them, Napoleon abdicated and was exiled to the island of Elba, off the coast of France. During his imprisonment there, his supporters yearned for what he embodied: a populist, liberal spirit with a strong nationalism. They clamored for his return, and he conspired for the same end.
On February 26, 1815, Napoleon escaped from Elba with the help of loyal soldiers, and he returned to the mainland on March 1, 1815. He marched to Paris on March 20 and returned to power, initiating the famed “100 Days” of his final rule. Less than two weeks after arriving in Paris, Napoleon set about reorganizing his government to bring his loyalists back into power and to reward those who had helped him most. As part of this program, on April 22 1815, Napoleon signed “The Acte Additionel” to the French Constitution, which amended earlier constitutions to provide the French people with a declaration of rights and freedoms, such as freedom of the press and religion. It also set up a bicameral system of government or a form of imperial constitutional government. The constitution was to be approved in a plebiscite to be held later. This was to be the linchpin of his new rule. Acting in advance, and pursuant to this act, he organized governmental elections, and convened the representatives of the people into electoral colleges that would gather in Paris in late May and make their selections.
Pierre de Montesquiou was an officer in the cavalry in 1789. In 1804 he was elected deputy of the legislature, replacing Talleyrand as High Chamberlain in 1808. He became president of the legislative body in 1810. When Napoleon was exiled the first time, King Louis XVIII made him a peer of France. But when Napoleon returned, he took up the General’s call and was again High Chamberlain to Napoleon during the Hundred Days. His wife was appointed governess of the royal children.
Letter Signed, May 27, 1815, Paris, to Monsieur le Comte de Montesquiou. “The members of the Electoral College and the deputies of the Chamber of Representatives are now arriving in Paris. I wish you to receive a certain number of them, each day, and that your house be open the entire evening.”
Letters of Napoleon during his 100 days return are very uncommon enough, but we have never before seen one that directly related to the keystone of his hoped-for second Empire – the new Constitution and the electoral colleges he called pursuant to it.
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