Tag Archives: Napoleon Bonaparte

Postcards From France

More memories, this time from Family Holidays in Northern France (1978-2017)…


It’s Nice To Feel Useful – Top Picks

Before Google got nervous about web search findings and tightened up on sharing search results there was a lot of fun to be had looking at the questions that brought web-surfers to my blog.

Here are ten of my favourites…

The first one is “Why did Shakespeare bring starlings to Australia?

I think I am obliged to point out here straight away that William Shakespeare died in 1616 and Australia wasn’t settled by Europeans for another couple of hundred years or so after that and although there is much literary speculation concerning possible visits by the Bard to Italy I think it is probably safe to say that he never went as far as Australia!

I imagine that what the question referred to was really about starlings in the USA because here there is a connection.

The introduction of the starling to USA is said to be the responsibility of a man called Eugene Schiefflein who belonged to a group dedicated to introducing into America all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works on the basis that they thought it would be rather nice to hear the sound of Shakespeare’s birds warbling their old world songs on the tree branches of new world America. Obviously they didn’t realise that this had the potential be an ecological disaster on the same scale as introducing the rabbit into Australia!

Next is another historical howler…

“Napoleon Monument in Moscow”

What? In his periods of sanity Napoleon did some rather good things but most of the time he was a tyrant and a dictator and a warmonger and in 1812 he invaded Russia and did unspeakable things to the Russian people who were unfortunate enough to be in his way as he marched his army to Moscow. When he got there the Russian people burnt the city down and so with nowhere to stay for the winter he was obliged to march all the way back again during which his army did more unpleasant things to the Russian people.

I imagine that the chances of there being a memorial to Napoleon Bonaparte in Moscow are about just as likely as there will be a statue of Adolf Hitler.

There is however a monument to the French Emperor in France at Boulogne-Sur-Mer so perhaps that is where the search engine went looking?

Next, I like this one – “Lawrence and Gerald Durrell – how tall were they?

Honestly, what sort of question is that and unless you were their tailor or their undertaker why would you want to know. I did write a post about the Durrells when I visited Corfu where they both lived so perhaps this is where the enquirer ended up – “Corfu, In the Footsteps of Lawrence and Gerald Durrell” and as it is one of my favourite Greek Islands I will be surely returning so hopefully I can provide more missing detail!

“Did Vikings have large penises?”

Well, I am not an archaeologist or an anthropologist but what sort of odd question is that to put into a web search engine?

I find myself being completely unable to help with this subject, it is outside the limits of my expertise but on a visit to Iceland I did get to visit the rather odd Penis Museum but I don’t think that will have the answer to that one either.

One of my most successful posts is about the day I attended a Buckingham Palace Garden Party and I get lots of odd Google referrals about this one. My favourite just has to be – “Do I get expenses to attend royal garden party?”

Let me take a moment here to explain.

Just to be invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden party is a bit special in itself and believe me there is going to be a lot of expense involved – new suit, new outfit, overnight stay in London, taxi fares etc. and most people would gladly deal with this just to be part of the occasion so I have to say that expecting the Queen to pick up the bill sounds rather republican to me and whoever asked this should quite clearly not have had an invite in the first place.

Next up, I really like this one – “What did the captain wear on the Titanic?”

I visited Belfast in 2015 and went to see the Titanic Exhibition and Museum. It was a super place and I recommend anyone to go there and I think what I learned on that visit may just well help here.

Around the exhibition there are lots of pictures of Captain Smith in his White Star Line uniform so I am forced to conclude that except when he went to bed and most likely put on a pair of pyjamas that this was his favourite form of dress. Another thing that I can be certain of is that Captain Smith didn’t wear a lifebelt because after the Titanic struck the iceberg he went down with his ship and drowned!

Mine is not a food blog but I am always happy to help out with culinary questions whenever I can and I like this one… Should I put vinegar on the chips or not?”

I include this one even though I do not find this to be not such a stupid question. What you should put on your chips is a matter of personal choice and a subject that I debated when I considered the origin of frites.

Staying with the food theme…

“What was General Franco’s favourite food?”

I am reasonably certain that this is a question that only his personal chef could realistically be expected to answer with any authority but my suggestions are…

• Roasted Republicans
• Skewered Socialists
• Char-grilled Communists

Some time ago I tried to visit General Franco’s tomb but the Spanish don’t like Franco anymore and it was closed at the time on account of the fact that it was being demolished.

When General Franco met Führer Adolf Hitler in possibly the most awkward ever meeting in history I can only assume that either they couldn’t agree on the menu or they were both on a diet…

“What does a postcard of the Grand Canyon look like?”

I am certain that I have put some dumb questions into Google myself but surely none as daft as this. I am tempted simply to say that a postcard of the Grand Canyon will look very much like a postcard and will most likely have a picture of the Canyon on it.

Anyway, I visited the Grand Canyon in 1995 and as always I am keen to help so here we go, it looks like a postcard and has a picture of the canyon on it…

For this selection of search terms I have saved my favourite until last and this is it – “Things to do in Tossa de Marr Spain for clairvoyants”.

Now, call me a sceptic if you like but if you can see into the future what on earth does a clairvoyant need with a website of advertised events – why don’t they just look in their crystal ball?

… Have you spotted any bizarre search questions bringing unexpected visitors to your blog posts? – Do Tell!

On This Day – Napoleon Bonaparte and La Colonne de la Grande Armée

Even though travel restrictions are easing I am not yet minded to risk it so I still have no new stories to post so I continue to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 18th August 2013 I was in Boulogne in Northern France…

La Colonne de la Grande Armée

La Colonne de la Grande Armée is a monument constructed in the 1840s and is a fifty-three metre-high column topped with a statue of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

It marks the location of the base camp where Napoleon  assembled an army of eighty thousand men all reeking of garlic, singing  ‘La Marseillaise’ and impatient to invade England.  It was initially intended to commemorate a successful campaign, but this proved to be rather premature and as he didn’t quite manage that it now remembers instead the first distribution of the Imperial Légion d’honneur.

Like most of history’s tyrants there are not many statues of Bonaparte but although there are no statues of Stalin or Hitler or Franco for example a few of Napoleon remain.  In addition to this one there are two in Paris at Les Invalides and another at Place Vendome, there are two statues of him depicted as Mars the Peacemaker, one at Aspley House in London (the home of the Duke of Wellington) and another in Milan and there is a monument to him in Warsaw in Poland to commemorate the establishment of the Duchy of Warsaw by Napoleon in 1807.

I confess that I have always been an admirer of Napoleon, setting aside his aggressive military ambitions I tend to concur with the assessment of British historian Andrew Roberts…

“The ideas that underpin our modern world—meritocracy, equality before the law, property rights, religious toleration, modern secular education, sound finances, and so on—were championed, consolidated, codified and geographically extended by Napoleon. To them he added a rational and efficient local administration, an end to rural banditry, the encouragement of science and the arts, the abolition of feudalism and the greatest codification of laws since the fall of the Roman Empire.”

Read The Full Story Here…

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

A Postcard From Northern France

France Postcard

My favourite part of all of France.

Something like ten-million British travellers arrive in Calais each year and then without looking left or right, or stopping for even a moment head for the motorways and the long drive south and in doing so they miss the treat of visiting this Anglo-neglected part of France; the Côte d’Opale is a craggy, green, undulating and often dramatic coastline stretching for eighty miles between the port towns of Calais and the Baie de la Somme and the mouth of the river.

English tourists may avoid it but it has been long prized by the French and the Belgians, who enjoy the informal seafood restaurants in fishing villages dotted along the coast and the miles of intriguing coves and sandy beaches that run all the way down this coast that looks across at the south coast of England and leaks away inland to a glorious countryside.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

Naples, The Inevitability of Giuseppe Garibaldi

Naples Garibaldi

Garibaldi is the only wholly admirable figure in modern history.” –  A.J.P. Taylor (English Historian)

On our second day in Naples we made an early start because we were taking a train journey to nearby Herculaneum, a Roman City destroyed at the same time as more famous Pompeii by the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D 79.

We didn’t have a proper map of course but we were fairly certain of the right way towards the railway station and we confidently set off in our chosen direction and within a few moments came upon a huge piazza and the inevitable statue of Italy’s great hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi who we have come across previously in (no exaggeration here) every town and city that we have visited in Italy.

Every town and city in Italy has a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi.

This one was an especially fine statue, high on a column with an additional frieze depicting him alongside other Italian heroes.  I couldn’t get a very good picture because this would have involved standing in the middle of the road where I would certainly have been run down several times and so become a permanent addition to the tarmac!!

A few years ago I wrote a post in which I speculated on whether Giuseppe Garibaldi may be the most celebrated secular man ever to be recreated in statue form across the World.  You can read the post here.

After the creation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 the state worked hard at making sure Garibaldi would be perpetually remembered and the number of streets, piazzas and statues named after him makes him probably the most commemorated secular figure in history.  Such was the romance of his story of revolutionary heroism and daring-do that Garibaldi was at one point possibly the most famous man in Europe.

Garibaldi

In London in 1864 for example people flocked to see him as he got off the train. The crowds were so immense it took him six hours to travel three miles through the streets. The whole country shut down for three days while he met the great and the good.  Literary figures including the poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson and Sir Walter Scott lauded him as the “Italian lion” and “the noblest Roman of them all”.

Statues of his likeness stand in many Italian squares and in other countries around the world.  A bust of Giuseppe Garibaldi is prominently placed outside the entrance to the old Supreme Court Chamber in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC, a gift from members of the Italian Society of Washington. Many theatres in Sicily take their name from him and are ubiquitously named Garibaldi Theatre.

Five ships of the Italian Navy have been named after him, among which a World War II cruiser and the former flagship, the aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Giuseppe Garibaldi Italian Navy

When I went on holiday to Sorrento in 1976 I took a bus ride along the Amalfi Coast the coach stopped at one dangerously precipitous hairpin bend so that the tour guide could point out to us an outcrop of rock in the sea which is said to show the profile of the great man.

Garibaldi Rock Amalfi Coast

The English football team Nottingham Forest designed their home red kit after the uniform worn by Garibaldi and his men and have worn a variation of this design since being founded in 1865 and there is a Nottingham Forest team magazine called the ‘Garibaldi Gazette‘.  Rather interesting that they choose Garibaldi and not Robin Hood in my opinion but then they would have had to play in green shirts which is not a popular football shirt colour.  A college in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire is also named in his honour.

Nottingham Forest Shirt

Garibaldi is like a rash, he is everywhere.  The Garibaldi biscuit was named after him, as was a style of beard, a pop group in Mexico and in Italy there is a cocktail drink called the Garibaldi (based almost inevitably on the Italian drink Campari). The Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy has been awarded annually since 2007 in the European Six Nations rugby union competition to the winner of the match between France and Italy.

Other places and things named after Garibaldi include a National Park in British Columbia in Canada including Mount Garibaldi, Lake Garibaldi and an entire Volcanic belt; the city of Garibaldi in Oregon, USA; a town and a gold mine near the city of Ballarat in Victoria and a dirt road in Melbourne, both in Australia and a medium sized town in the very south of Brazil (his wife, Anita, was Brazilian).

There are Hotels in Naples, Palermo, Venice and Milan, but only a bed and breakfast in Rome. In England there are streets and squares named after him in London, Scarborough, Grimsby, Bradford and St Albans and a hotel in Northampton.  There is a Pizzeria in Memphis, Tennessee and in the Pacific Ocean near California there is a scarlet fish and a marine reef called Garibaldi. There is a museum on Staten Island, New York; stations on the Paris metro and in Mexico City; a café in Madrid, an area in Berlin, restaurants in Vienna and Kuala Lumpur, a Street in Moscow, a Museum in Amsterdam and a block of high-rise Social Housing flats in my home town of Grimsby.

If I have missed anything important out of my list then please let me know.

I have got rather a lot of photographs of Garibaldi statues from my Italian city visits but I took some more here and then we continued our walk to the railway station.

“We were for centuries
downtrodden, derided,
because we are not one people,
because we are divided.
Let one flag, one hope
gather us all.
The hour has struck
for us to unite.”

Italy National Anthem

Naples Statue 4

More Garibaldi Statues…

Giuseppe in Pisa

Giuseppe in Padova

Giuseppe in Venice

 

Napoleon Bonaparte, Three Ways and Twenty Separate Parts

Napoleon 1

When I was a boy, about ten or so, I used to like to make Airfix model kits.

The little models were mainly heroes from English history but curiously there was a figure of Napoleon included in the range and it was always one of my favourites, probably because he was one of the easiest to put together and to paint.  It is an odd thing but I think that Airfix kit of Napoleon Bonaparte began my interest in French history and why I went on to study the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire at University.

Napoleon Airfix

Other figures in the range were the Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry V, Henry VIII and Charles I and to balance things up there was the regicide Oliver Cromwell.

Napoleon was there but not Hitler or Stalin and alongside him representing France was Joan of Arc.

For some reason Julius Caesar who once invaded England was included but not William The Conqueror.

Airfix Figures

Who was your favourite Airfix figure?

Napoleon Bonaparte and La Colonne de la Grande Armée

Napoleon Bonaparte

Our plan today was to visit the coastal town of Wimereux but on the way we passed once more through Boulogne-Sur-Mer and stopped first of all at La Colonne de la Grande Armée.  This is a monument based on the design of Trajan’s Column in Rome which was begun in 1804 but not completed for forty years or so and is a fifty-three metre-high monument topped with a statue of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Nelson’s column, by the way, in Trafalgar Square in London is shorter at forty-six metres high.

It marks the location of the base camp where Napoleon  assembled an army of eighty thousand men all reeking of garlic, impatient and ready to invade England.  It was initially intended to commemorate a successful invasion, but this proved to be rather premature and as he didn’t quite manage that it now commemorates instead the first distribution of the Imperial Légion d’honneur.

Read the Full Story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

Wimereux France Pays de Calais

Empúries Greek Statue

Giuseppe Garibaldi Molfetta Puglia Italy

Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument

La Colonne de la Grande Armée Boulogne France

La Colonne de la Grande Armée, Boulogne-Sur-Mer, Boulogne

The column was erected in the 1840s and is a fifty-three metre-high monument topped with a statue of Napoleon Bonaparte. (Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square is shorter at forty-six metres high).  It marks the base camp where Napoleon massed France’s biggest ever army of eighty thousand men ready to invade England.

It was initially intended to commemorate a successful invasion of England, but this proved to be a bit premature and as he didn’t quite manage that it now commemorates instead the first distribution of the Imperial Légion d’honneur.

Read the full story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

La Colonne de la Grande Armée Boulogne France

La Colonne de la Grande Armée, Boulogne-Sur-Mer, Boulogne

The column was erected in the 1840s and is a fifty-three metre-high monument topped with a statue of Napoleon Bonaparte. (Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square is shorter at forty-six metres high).  It marks the base camp where Napoleon massed France’s biggest ever army of eighty thousand men ready to invade England.

It was initially intended to commemorate a successful invasion of England, but this proved to be a bit premature and as he didn’t quite manage that it now commemorates instead the first distribution of the Imperial Légion d’honneur.

Read the full story…