A fascinating glimpse into the personality of one of the world’s most famous men: the last will and testament of Napoléon Bonaparte

Napoleon's Will

Napoleon's Will

Napoleon's Will

  1. Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821) is remembered as one of the greatest military geniuses of all time

  2. The document at hand is concerned with his personal legacy, that is to say his last will and testament

  3. Aside from detailing the dispersal of his estate, Napoléon takes time to insult his enemies

Napoleon's Will

Alternative Titles:
  • Testament Napoleons
Napoleon's Will  – Archives Nationales (Paris, France)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

One’s will is an intensely personal document and divulges details from one’s life in a way that few others can. Such documents are particularly fascinating when they belong to famous people, because the more famous someone is, the more their true character is obscured by their public and historical personas. There are few names more famous today than that of Napoléon Bonaparte, and few people whose legacies are more hotly debated. Those who read his last will and testament can decide for themselves.

Napoleon's Will

“It is my wish that my ashes may repose on the banks of the Seine, in the midst of the French people, whom I have loved so well”
Few historical figures have attained the level of fame enjoyed by Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821), who is remembered as one of the greatest military geniuses of all time, and one of the most debated political legacies in history. His culturally legacy is enormous, but the document at hand is concerned with his personal legacy, that is to say his last will and testament. It was written on the British island of St. Helena in the middle of the South Atlantic, where he was exiled after his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18th, 1815. It is written in his own hand, with several copies made by his assistant, General Charles Tristan, marquis de Montholon (1783-1853), in the event that the British would destroy the original. After initially making some patriotic statements and some personal statements addressed directly to various family members, he also takes the time to insult various people, from the governor of St. Helena, Hudson Lowe (1768-1844) to Tallyrand (1754-1838) to Lafayette (1757-1834). The will goes into great detail in describing how Napoléon’s assets were to be distributed among his family, family, servants, and the various generals who served him, or their families in case they were dead. He lists practically all of his personal property and to whom his personal property was to be distributed, from an alarm clock that once belonged to King Frederick II of Prussia (1712-1786) to his hand washing stand, complete with jug. Such was the former emperor’s generosity, that he even sought to disperse property that he did not own. The will truly reflects the self-image of the incredibly ambitious Corsican.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Testament Napoleons
Language

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Napoleon's Will “

Das Testament Napoleons
Napoleon's Will  – Archives Nationales (Paris, France)
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Das Testament Napoleons

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Commentary
1 volume by Uta Gerpott
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