One of the songs we were taught at primary school was “Boney was a warrior” the lyrics of which taught me very little about Napoleon and left me fairly unmoved by the last verse which finished with “Boney broke his heart and died”. What I have learned over the years has been from the British perspective and there are several myths and half truths that are passed on, just as with many historical figures.Napoleon & Josephine - A Love Story by Theo Aronson
After a crushing defeat at Waterloo Napoleon abdicated and the British sent him in exile to St Helena – one of the remotest places on Earth where they almost certainly thought he would be forgotten. They were wrong. He died on the island at age 51 and a mere nineteen years after his death the French people brought his body back to Paris where he was given a magnificent funeral. A reported million people lined the route of the cortege which passed under the Arc de Triomphe and into the Royal Chapel of Les Invalides. His tomb is a huge sarcophagus which contains six coffins made from iron, lead, beech, oak and ebony. This is not the ending the song of my childhood suggests – far from it.