25 septembre 2023

Daily Impact European

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THE CHINESE SHADOW OF NAPOLEON… a historic journey… seen by Thierry BRUN


Thierry BRUN, medical biologist, former head of the Bacteriology Department at Cochin Hospital in Paris, participated in the discovery of the study of the first mutant bacteria resistant to betalactamase inhibitors and worked on the medical file of Napoleone Bonaparte, based on the testimonies of contemporaries.

Thierry BRUN, medical biologist, former head of the Bacteriology Department at Cochin Hospital in Paris, participated in the discovery of the study of the first mutant bacteria resistant to betalactamase inhibitors and worked on the medical file of Napoleone Bonaparte, based on the testimonies of contemporaries.

Napoleon’s Chinese Shadow, is a historical novel, which begins when the Emperor Napoleon discovers the cliffs of Saint Helena. He exclaims: What an ugly stay! If I had stayed in Egypt, today I would be Emperor of all the East. He knows that the inhabitants of the island of Saint Helena have been enrolled in this fight which will oppose the Emperor Napoleon to the English oligarchy. What he does not know is that the strong Chinese colony of more than 600 individuals is commanded by a council of three old sages, who are waiting for him and watching him…

This triumvirate instructs Chen Jin to approach Napoleon. Chen is an exiled Chinese and sent secretly by the Emperor of China Jiaqing, in order to obtain information on the English. He is present at Longwood, when Napoleon lectures the English ambassador Lord Amherst, back from China, by pronouncing his famous political prediction: When China wakes up the world will tremble!

This prophetic statement is attributed to Napoleon. The Emperor is said to have pronounced it in 1816, after reading “The Relation of the Voyage to China and Tartary by Lord Macartney,” the King of England’s first ambassador to China, or on another occasion to Saint Helena. Could he have predicted the rise of China and its global power?

Alain Peyrefitte, French politician and writer, made it the title of a book. His analysis could be summed up as follows: given their number, when the Chinese have reached sufficient culture and technology, they will be able to impose themselves on the rest of the world.

The Chinese recognize the bravery and greatness of Napoleon with this simple phrase, which truly praises their country. Others think that if the Chinese are so admiring of Napoleon, it is because he was an emperor. However, China is familiar with the notion of empire, since it was for a long time its only model of government. The period of the Chinese empire extended all the same from 221 BC until 1912.

The Qing dynasty (1644–1911)

At the end of the Ming dynasty, the Manchus, settled in the northeast of China, grew in strength and would attack the empire for more than three generations, to finally impose themselves and found the Qing dynasty.

The Kangxi Emperor (1661–1772) and the Qianlong Emperor (1735–96) remain the two most famous emperors of this dynasty whose reigns symbolized “a golden age of prosperity”.

The late Chinese Owever dynasty, however, remembers with shame the forced trade of the late Qing period. Indeed, since the Opium War in 1840, China will become a half-colonized and half-imperial country. The territory of modern China is established during this period.

Is the period when we can see the presence of Napoleon, in the territory of China, on the island of Saint Helena. Where the secret actors of this drama are the Chinese Chen Jin, who becomes Napoleon’s Chinese shadow, his spy, and the beautiful Yi Lian, who will be Napoleon’s last love. The island of Saint Helena is an obligatory stopover on the road to the Orient. More than a thousand ships pass through it each year, a thousand opportunities to escape…

The novel is a bicentennial scoop based on painstaking and lengthy historical research chronicling the relationship between Napoleon and the many Chinese on Saint Helena who were erased and made anonymous. They were 646 Chinese on the island of Saint Helena where Napoleon was detained…

Of which 23 Chinese worked in the Emperor’s household: there were therefore more Chinese at Longwood than French or English. Some were gardeners, worked in the kitchen, brought water from the spring in the valley of geraniums, watched the temperature of Napoleon’s bath… But some were particularly close to Napoleon, built the kiosk surmounted by a dragon, the aviary surmounted by an eagle, decorated the grotto of the garden with Chinese motifs. Their relations have been such that Napoleon does not forget them in his will and one of his last thoughts in his agony will be for them: and my poor Chinese what will become of them?

The book is on sale from April 6, 2023 at FNAC and in bookstores.

In the chronology of history, one can find reports on his medical file and the last personal writings of Napoleon on the island of Saint Helena, the last moments of the life of the emperor, the will and the rules to be respected. during his autopsy.

Napoleon has been a prisoner of the English in Saint Helena for more than five years. After giving up the idea of leaving Saint Helena alive, he worked for posterity by writing his memoirs. He is gradually overwhelmed by the disease and suffers from persistent stomach pain caused by a serious ulcer. In the last months, his sufferings are terrible and in April 1821, his entourage understands that he is condemned. Napoleon died on May 5, 1821 at 5:49 p.m.

But in Saint Helena, the death of Napoleon is also that of a sovereign who dominated Europe and around whom is preserved the etiquette of the imperial palace. Around him, his last companions, faithful servants of his person as well as of his memory, accompany him in his last moments.

Composed of twenty distinct documents whose drafting was concentrated over two weeks, between April 11 and April 29, 1821, Napoleon I’s testamentary collection has several dimensions: the legal act, both private and public, is coupled with a political perspective and has a psychological and intimate depth. Feeling his last strength abandoning him, Napoleon decided to devote himself to writing down his last wishes. Beyond the material aspects, his last message is above all written for history. One last time, he overwhelms his adversaries, the English oligarchy like those he accuses of having betrayed him. If he bequeaths all the relics of his glory to his son, quite voluntarily forgetting his family, he distributes most of his money, several million francs, to his last companions. After his death, the execution of his will was particularly complicated and continued until the Second Empire.

An autopsy is performed at the request of Napoleon, who fears that the evil that is eating away at him is hereditary. For the English, this autopsy has another stake: to prove that it was not the conditions of exile that killed the prisoner in their custody.

It is practiced the day after death by Doctor Antommarchi, under the supervision of six English doctors and in the presence of the most faithful servants of the Emperor. Doctor Antommarchi’s autopsy report, featured in the exhibit, describes an ulcer that slowly perforated the stomach wall.

The death mask is taken after the autopsy. Due to a lack of materials necessary for its production, it was taken two days after death, on May 7, 1821. Its reproduction on an almost industrial scale in the second half of the 19th century fueled the mystery around the existence of a “real” mask.

When the Chinese celebrate Napoleon, they use great means! To tell the unique destiny of the one who marked a page in the history of Europe, they are ready for all madness.