thumbnail of Make history your hobby; Who was Napoleon?
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Make history your hobby. A program presented by Randy. All the facts mentioned in what you are about to hear are true. And yet this is not history in the real sense of the word. What we have in mind is to get you interested in history in general and in this particular case in Napoleon. If after listening you ask yourself the question Who was this man indeed and make up your mind to find out. You will set out on a fascinating voyage of discovery and of the same time. We shall not have worked and you will not have listened in vain. Who then. Laws. NAPOLEON. On May the 5th of the year 1821 Cinta Lina and island lost in the boundless ocean that inveterate double cross to tie it on cold it and hence thought it an
excellent prison for the most dangerous criminal in Europe was hit by the worst storm it had known for years barring seas lashed the shores forks of lightning spit the rocks trees were uprooted rooftops torn away it hold and wind around a lonely squat wooden structure called Long wood. And then a man lay dying. Many in those days of emotion and romanticism saw a connection between the fury of the elements and his departing soul. At six in the morning he breathed his last. And strange to say the storm subsided. On a bleak plateau with here and there a few stunted rubber trees twisted and
gnarled by constant trade winds into grotesque shapes standing guard like ghostly sentinels a few faithful friends laid to rest General Bonaparte at one time Emperor of the French and master of Europe and what they thought would be his last resting place. General Tom one of them could not know then that 19 years later he would again be present at the Emperor's burial. When this time he would say on St. Helena. I was young and he was old. Now I am old and he is young. And how true that was for isn't Napoleon. Even more with us today and who still remembers about Tom for 19 years later he was to be enshrined in seven caskets of which the outermost of beautifully polished stone to be a monument to the glory of France and there ever since and the otel days and buried millions have tiptoed in silence and awe to look and reflect.
Exactly one hundred years later a man with a swastika cross on his arm whose army is had just subdued France stood there stiffly at attention. And if we are to believe an eyewitness his little smudge of a moustache twitched slightly as he gazed at the tomb a sign we are told of deep emotion. Yes Mr. mass murderer Hitler had also come to do homage. Yet though the mortal remains now lie buried there. We must not for a moment believe that it is his only burial ground. No today Napoleon lies buried under thousands upon thousands of books. He who wishes to reconstruct the true Napoleon will soon find his task hopeless. He himself in turn will be buried under an inextricable mass of biographies studies articles memoirs and histories each comprising many weighty volumes. He will be swayed from one extreme with many of the
despised him and as many more who lost him to the high heavens. Each generation of historians has written and will write their own version of the Polian. So how are we to know who was he who can remove the overgrowth of legend and false publicity. At which Napoleon was a past master himself to reveal the real man. A man who through his will sent hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen to be butchered on
countless battlefields and yet could be deeply moved by the Sermon on the Mount. Even in 1814 with the French population decimated after the disasters in Russia at Leipsic with the armies of the entire continent at their doors. After 25 years of revolution Terra misgovernment dreams of false glory the French longed for peace but there is the miracle. No one in France wished the downfall of the Emperor. Only some indeed thought of condemning the cruelty of his ambition the despotism of his government and the foolishness of his dreams. Who was this man. What was the secret of his magnetism. Obvious power over men. His irresistible charm that made men lose all sense of proportion and follow him wherever he led. Was he energy as some think an energy personified. Others believe he had the most wonderful luck and that all the circumstances for success were favorable. When we think that England his real vital enemy the one that eventually
caused his downfall was ruled by a monarch who then was discovered talking to a lamppost thinking it was the Russian ambassador. So a lunatic. Oh by other censures wastrel as Prince Regent and the mediocrities as ministers. When we think that if used Fulton's invention of a steam driven vessel which would have left the British Navy powerless and made his landing in England possible then we begin to wonder. The poet himself once said. I electrify men. I quit in the most sluggish and in his memoirs written on sincerely and he said it will be a thousand years before the circumstances which had gathered around to me recur when fate will pick another man from the crowd and raise him to such heights. Since his defeat at Waterloo in 1815 just one hundred and fifty
years of those thousands of past. And so far time has proved him to have been right in the field of administration of art science and law. We still see the hand of Napoleon. Who was he then was the philosopher Hedo right when he said that once in a while we have world historical individuals who can express the will of the world spirit. But until they come. No one can break the hard shell which keeps all feelings of anger discontent and disappointment tightly enclosed. When he does come he breaks the shell and the vast amount of pent up energy bursts forth and he leads it. Such men were Alexander Caesar and Napoleon. The reader of his works whose feeble mind compared to that of his goals might wonder of the bloodshed and the misery this brings with it is worth it. But our philosopher has an answer to that too. Virtues such as
modesty humility philanthropy forbearance and love are for the time irrelevant in attaining this end. These mighty men must trample down many an innocent flower crushed to pieces. Many an object in their path. Well was Napoleon such a shell burst or is that the answer. The bloody French Revolution had done away with class distinction privilege and brought equality and what had it not cost to achieve this it had executed the king who had ruled over his people to the best of his ability and who was anything but a despot. They nobility had fled and those who were caught were guilty and thousands of innocent lives had been lost. And yet within the space of ten years all this was lost again. The nobility is back. New nobles are created they propertied class
alone first play a weak part in government and are then removed all together. The people are nothing. They are no longer consulted. They are ruled by a man who despises them whose absolute power would have made any dictator our world has had to put up with envious and the miracle the people look up to this man as a redeemer. Impossible you will say. But not for Napoleon. He could run about Europe patting emperors on the back tweaking the ears of kings and then deposing them and putting his brothers in their stead. He first referred to the Holy See as an old mechanism that would crumble at the first touch and then rob it of its most valuable art treasures. Later when he needed the pope to anoint him as Emperor of the French he would order the Holy Father for the ceremony to Paris and the pope came to that Paris where a few years before the King had been beheaded. Where atheism had been proclaimed where the church had been robbed of
all its possessions. Can you imagine the holy father's feelings when he was looking out from a window in Paris. He could see the place where the guillotine had been so busy and a little to his left the spot where robbers Pierre had proclaimed the existence of a supremum being and where he had loudly denounced the superstitions of religion. Surely his heart must have skipped a beat. But on the morning of the great day he was awakened by cries of Holy Father Holy Father shouts by the same crowds that once attacked the king's palace that ran amok in Paris and had murdered and pillaged and who were now kneeling to receive his blessing as if by magic all are changed. And who would brought it about Napoleon. And only a few years later that same pope would be chased from the Vatican. The Papal States incorporated the pope imprisoned by Napoleon. These feats alone would have singled him out as a master of men. The great Charlemagne had
to go to Rome for his coronation and Charles the Fifth to belong but not Napoleon. After the bloody battle of Waterloo there were not but he left of the old gran yars the old mustachios hundreds of thousands of them to the firing line with his name on her lips. Their bodies mangled and torn lay rotting on the battlefields of every country in Europe and yet. And yet when in 1817 there was a performance of Peter went to Roy town the symphony first dedicated to Napoleon but later withdrew the dedication because he thought the poor you know gone back on his word and had become a dictator. There was an untoward disturbance just where that beautiful shared so passes to the field. In the audience. An old man had clambered on to his seat and gesticulating wildly and shouted The Emperor of the Emperor. He was one of the few left overs of Napoleon's Grand Army. There was something so beautiful in that music that in his crude soul it awakened memories of
his Emperor of his Napoleon. What inspired Beethoven to write such wonderful music. What we asked so move that broken old soldier. What did possess the audience who instead of showing disgust and being disturbed in the middle of a beautiful concert and having the man removed reverently waited until you spent him self and sobbing it sunk back into his seat. And what had made the conductor turn to the audience and bowed deeply. Wait until science had returned and only then to continue where he had left off. What was it. Or rather who was he that had left such indelible impression on the sands of time. Or
Leyla. Indeed who was he. Why not read more about him. Try and find out for yourself. Make history your hobby a fascinating pastime and watch food for thought. Make history your hobby was a program presented by rowdy launch the Dutch world broadcasting system in Holland.
This program was distributed by national educational radio. This is the national educational radio network.
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
Make history your hobby
Who was Napoleon?
Producing Organization
Radio Nederland
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-5h7bwp3n).
Episode Description
This program focuses on the story of the French military and political leader Napolon Bonaparte.
Series Description
This series provides detail and analysis of important historical figures and events.
Media type
Producing Organization: Radio Nederland
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 1 of 1 (University of Maryland)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:54
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Make history your hobby; Who was Napoleon?,” 1967-12-21, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “Make history your hobby; Who was Napoleon?.” 1967-12-21. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
APA: Make history your hobby; Who was Napoleon?. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from