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Napoleon and his Tendon

The content below is from Episode 125 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week’s recommendation is pretty short as the episode main event is quite long lol
  • I recommend you listen to and see live the band Greta Van Fleet
    • They sound a lot like Led Zepplin and a little like Rush.
    • I saw them open for Metallica and while all openers and Metallica kicked ass (I had a great time), I personally think Greta Van Fleet impressed me the most.
    • Their performance was transcendent.
    • I just started listening to them, but a song I have already fallen in love with is Heat Above.
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrWFu5k1Jpg

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • Napoleon Bonaparte, later known by his regnal name Napoleon I, was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the Revolutionary Wars.
  • His life is full of some of the greatest stories in history:
    • Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), also known as Napoleon I, was a French military leader and emperor who conquered much of Europe in the early 19th century. Born on the island of Corsica, Napoleon rapidly rose through the ranks of the military during the French Revolution (1789-1799). It was during this time period that his reputation went from a fan favorite star to supernova status.
    • The French Revolution was a period of radical political and societal change in France that began with the Estates General of 1789 and ended with the formation of the French Consulate in November 1799.
      • The French Revolution is its own thing. Lots of radical political uprisings happened and it was even crazier than America’s revolution. People got their heads chopped off with this new invention called the Guillotine… you may have heard of it lol. And it was during this time of chaos that Napoleon rose like a phoenix from the ashes of the former monarchy to take hold of France’s future with an iron grip.
  • Starting in 1792, the new Revolutionary government, still in its infancy, was caught up in all sorts of military conflicts with all sorts of European nations and a coalition of European allies.
    • It was in 1795 that Napoleon helped shut down a Royalist insurrection in Paris. The royalist wanted to bring back the monarchy and Napoleon said hell no, this revolutionary government is what I’m all about and I don’t need you, royalists, mucking it up. For Napoleon’s efforts, he was promoted to Major General.
    • Our boy Napoleon lead the French army to victory in 1796 over the Austrians who were one of France’s biggest rivals. This led to the signing of the Treaty of Campo Formio which ended the fighting and gave France a whole lot of land.
    • After all of these military successes, the Directory (5 dudes that had been running France’s revolutionary government since 1795) decided to give Napoleon permission to invade England. But Napoleon knew that would be a dumb move. England is an island and had the greatest naval power in the world at the time.
    • So instead he decided to go bash some skulls down in Egypt. Egypt was a major part of England’s trade with India. With India being the crown jewel of the English Empire and all, messing up this trade route would greatly cripple the English.
    • Napoleon’s troops, who by now were becoming his ultra-loyal badass fighting force, stomped all over the Egyptian Mamluks (military rulers) at one of the coolest battle names in recent history: The Battle of the Pyramids in July of 1798.
      • But this victory didn’t last long. You see, England didn’t take too kindly to Napoleon crippling their trade with India and so they took their super powerful navy and basically stranded the French troops down in the Egyptian desert after the Battle of the Nile in August of 1798.
    • The very next year, not satiated with all the fighting thus far, Napoleon decided he liked the look of the Ottoman Empire’s land of Syria. He tried to invade but lost in his attempt to lay siege to Acre (modern-day Israel). That is when Napoleon decided to make a strategic move, based on the political atmosphere at the time, to straight up abandon his army in Egypt and bounce right on back to France in the summer of 1799.
      • Why you might ask? Because that fall in November of 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte was a major part of the Coup of 18 Brumaire, a famous coup where Napoleon overthrew those 5 dudes who’d been running the French Revolutionary Government known as the Directory.
    • In the Directory’s place was a 3-person Consulate and Napoleon as first-consul… Which put him at the tippy top of France’s government.
    • The next summer in June of 1800, Napoleon led French forces to victory over those pesky Austrians. This made the French public love him even more as they hated the Austrians. Kicking the Austrians out of Italy and brokering a peace with the English through the treaty of Amiens in 1802 was a MASSIVE boost to his public opinion rating.
  • One of the things that sets Napoleon apart from other conquerors is that he did take the time to make sure his nation was doing well.
    • He made sure the government was set up right and efficiently. He updated France’s banking, education, science, and art. France was widely a Catholic nation, yet the country had been on rocky ground with the Vatican lately and so he bro’d it up with the pope to smooth that relationship over.
    • Arguably the best thing he did to further his nation was introduce the Napoleonic Code. This code made the French legal system MUCH more efficient. The code was so well written that it is the basis for the French legal system still to this day.
    • All these improvements and military accomplishments gave Napoleon all sorts of political power. So in 1802 there was a constitutional amendment that allowed him to keep the title of First-Consul for life. Which seems like an invitation for corruption… but that wasn’t enough. Just 2 years later in the year of 1804, a big bougie-ass ceremony was held at Cathedrale Note-Dame de Paris. It was Napoleon’s crowning ceremony as the Emporer of France!
      • Que the empirical march music!
  • How was Napoleon as an Emperor?
    • Well, the little feisty bastard had nowhere else to go in his own government. He had become the Emperor… He wasn’t satsified with First-Consul for life, the tippy top of the heap, so he had them create a new title and crowned him Emperor. So what do you think he did?
    • He took all that aggression and went right back to expanding outwards. Nowhere left to go up, so why not spread out?
    • That’s when this testosterone-filled pipsqueak decided to go on a 12-year series of military campaigns that would come to be known as the Napoleonic Wars. The dude has not one, but a series of wars named after him.
    • The Napoleonic wars, put simply, was France versus Europe. Napoleon would lead his ultra-badass loyal soldiers who had been fighting with him for over a decade now into wars against entire coalitions of European allies. He wasn’t just fighting a nation at a time mano-e-mano… he was taking on 2, 3, 4 countries at a time… and winning. Here are some highlights of the Napoleonic Wars:
      • To fund all of this, amongst other things, the 5 foot 7 ruler sold the large expanse of land known as the Louisiana Territory to the baby nation overseas known as the United States of America for $15 million dollars (almost $400 million today). This would come to be known as the Louisiana Purchase and was one HELL of a bargain for the USA. This doubled the size of the USA. The reason why France sold the territory at such a low cost could be an entire episode on its own. Such a complex story with violence and political maneuvering.
I have a map of the Louisiana territory on the blog here. It is a massive amount of land stretching from Alberta Canada to New Orleans.
  • The Battle of Trafalgar in October of 1805 is when England’s superior naval fleet wiped Napoleon’s fleet off the map. But just 2 months later he decimated the Austrian and Russian forces at the Battle of Austerlitz. Napoleon beat those Austrians and Ruskies so bad it would up taking the Holy Roman Empire off the board and creating the Confederation of the Rhine.
    • This confederation was an alliance of various German states that served as a satellite and major military ally of the French Empire with Napoleon as its “Protector,” and was created as a buffer state from any future aggression from Austria, Russia, or Prussia against France.
    • Napoleon was doing what he did best, carving up Europe like a Thanksgiving turkey.
    • Where Napoleon couldn’t invade England or even dream of beating them at sea, he did find victory at beating them at economics. He came up with an idea to cripple the Brits by strangling them of their foreign imports (a strategy that would later be used by a one Adolph Hitler during WW2.) Napoleon’s strategy was known as the Continental System of European port blockades against British trade.
      • Note to self: if at war with England, the only hope of winning is to isolate the island and wait them out. See how long they can survive on fish and chips before they start turning on each other and feasting on their precious corgies… LOL. IDK where that came from LMAO
    • Napoleon beat the Russians in 1807 and forced their ruler Alexander I (1777 to 1825) to sign the Treaty of Tilsit for peace.
    • In 1809, Napoleon beat the Austrians… again at the battle of Wagram. This of course gave France even more land.
  • With all this land Napoleon thought it would be nice to give some of it to his ride-or-die homies. He started giving land and nobility to his most trusted friends and consequently recreating the French aristocracy which had been violently destroyed during the French Revolution.

DON’T INVADE RUSSIA DURING THE WINTER

  • But this is things started to go downhill for Napoleon. This was not an exponentially slippery slope mind you. Napoleon’s flame didn’t die out with a fizzle… but it did die out. And it started to die out when he made one of the greatest mistakes any military ruler could possibly make on this planet: He decided to invade Russian during winter.
    • Similar to how Napoleon shared success at strangling England of its foreign imports with Hitler… Well, making the MAJOR mistake of invading Russia during winter was another shared characteristic these European conquerors had. Historians beleive that invading Russia through winter is what ultimately sealed both Napoleon’s and Hitler’s doom.
    • It started with Russia deciding to withdraw from France’s Continental System in 1810, the Ruskies didn’t want to blockade England anymore. They decided it didn’t suit them.
    • Well, this didn’t sit well with Napoleon and his complex. His ego had grown so much at this point that instead of thinking this through, he just took a HUGE portion of France’s fighting force straight into Russia for a full-scale invasion in the summer of 1812.
    • The Russians knew how to play this one. They didn’t take on this strategic genius head-on. Instead, they would wait until Napoleon and his big ego would attack and retreat further inland. They knew Napoleon’s forces were big and nasty so instead of trying to fight head-on, they decided to be the flea on the back of the lion. They pestered him and prodded his ego. And every time they did Napoleon just went right after them. Bit by bit Napoleon went further and further, deeper and deeper into the heart of Russia.
    • Napoleon didn’t expect a long and drawn-out invasion. He expected his enemy to roll over. So the French troops were not prepared for a long campaign and they certainly were not prepared for the bitter cold they were about to face.
    • The Battle of Borodino ended with indecisive results. Both sides lost many troops and French morale dwindled. “Moscow is on the horizon men,” Napoleon promised his troops. “Think of the riches and glory!” (not direct quotes) But when French forces marched into Moscow they found no one was there. The Russians evacuated the city and told their citizens to burn the city to the ground in order to keep the Frenchies from feasting on their spoils.
    • What did Napoleon do? He waited. He thought if the Russians evacuated their own capital they would surrender to him, but that didn’t happen. An entire month of waiting had the Russian winter breathing down Napoleon’s neck. He reluctantly ordered his forces to leave Moscow without a surrender from his ever-fleeing enemy.
    • But as soon as Napoleon started to withdraw the Ruskies changed tactics. Instead of employing hit-and-run tactics, retreating at the first sign of attack from the French, the Russians were in all-out war mode now. They became super aggressive and treated the fleeing French forces without mercy. On his way out of Russia, Napoleon lost an estimated 500,000 troops from his original 600,000 invasion force.
    • The Russian invasion was bad, but everything happening around it made the situation even worse for Napoleon. While he was failing to invade Russia, the French were losing a 6-year-long war (the Peninsular War, 1808 to 1814) against the Spanish, Portuguese, and British.
    • In 1813, the Battle of Leipzig (AKA the Battle of Nations) saw Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Sweden all band together, calling themselves the Coalition, to show France the business. Napoleon couldn’t swing that victory and he lost.
    • After the Battle of Nations, Napoleon turned tail and ran back to Paris where he was pursued by the Coalition. They captured the city of Paris and made Napoleon own up to his decades-long acts of aggressive military campaigns across Europe.
  • After the French emperor invaded Russia and had Paris captured, he garnered quite a negative reputation in Europe and he was dethroned and lost his title…
    • In his mid-40s, Napoleon was forced to abdicate the throne and was exiled through the treaty of Fontainebleau.
    • Louis the 18th regained his French throne and exiled Napoleon to the little Italian island of Elba…
      • Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Forced to live your days out on an Italian island out in the beautiful Mediterranean sea… LOL
      • And get this, Napoleon was even given sovereignty over the island… I mean, dayum! But for whatever reason, his wife and son did not accompany him. They went off to Austria.
    • But this is Napoleon we are talking about here… within 100 days of his exile from King Louis the 18th he escaped his island and was able to get back into France.
      • He sailed back to Franch with about 1,000 supporters. For some reason, his enemies thought it would be fine to give one of the most charismatic and politically powerful men in history rule over his own island. Like, the dude isn’t going to gather support and try something.
    • It was here where Napoleon convinced King Louis’s army (troops who formerly served under Napoleon) to not only let him go but to betray their official monarch and join forces with Napoleon again.
      • Napoleon, officially a fugitive in his own country now had rallied the armed forces sent to capture him to his side. He rode into Paris, welcomed by a roaring crowd. Kin Louis the 18th fled the country… France had chosen her true ruler.
  • This is when Napoleon started the Hundred Days Campaign
    • All of Napoleon’s old enemies that he had bullied for the last several decades, who thought they had finally gotten rid of this rabid Frenchie with the unfathomable cunning military mind, were now shitting bricks. Napoleon was back from nowhere and Europe was SWEATING.
    • They all heard how he was able to come from a tiny exile island to Emperor within less than a year. Fearing vengeance, Austria, Britain, Prussia, and the Russians started preparing for war.
    • Napoleon rallied an army in NO TIME and decided to strike his enemies before they could raise substantial armies of their own. He wanted to take them down one by one before they could band together. He started his preemptive strike on Belgium.
    • There he met the British and Prussian forces. On June 16th, Napoleon wiped the floor with them at the Battle of Ligny.
      • Europe’s knees were knocking… but then…
    • Two days after his victory at Ligny, on June 18th, was the infamous battle of Waterloo. One of the most famous battles of all time, one of the most important battles in history, Waterloo saw Napoleon’s forces absolutely crushed to oblivion.
      • Why he lost is up for debate. English sources will tell you it was due to English bravery and yada yada. Others say it was because Napoleon was well past his prime, fat, suffering from hemorrhoids, and lethargic. His orders were belated, and he delegated command of most of his army to young, inexperienced, and incompetent generals.
    • This time his enemies were not taking any chances with this powerhouse of charisma and strategic force that is Napoleon the first… This time England banished Napoleon to a small island in the south Atlantic ocean off the coast of Africa called St. Helena. There Napoleon would live out the rest of his life and where he died in 1821.
    • He was buried on the Island of St. Helena against his wishes which were to be laid to rest “on the banks of the Seine, among the French people I have loved so much.”
    • But in 1840 his body was taken to France and entombed in a crypt at Les Invalides in Paris. This is where French military leaders are laid to rest… a fitting spot.
  • “The only way to lead people is to show them a future: a leader is a dealer in hope.”
  • “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
  • “Envy is a declaration of inferiority.”
  • “The reason most people fail instead of succeed is they trade what they want most for what they want at the moment.”
  • “If you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing.”
-Napoleon Bonaparte
  • This episode was originally supposed to be just about the bizarre story of Napoleon’s weiner and how his mummified peepee was stolen and sold on black markets for the past few centuries, but then I felt the need to go over this man’s extraordinary life. So what I just read to you, his military career, rise to power, life as an emperor, and downfall… that was just a really long intro lol. Now we get into what the episode was originally going to be about: Napoleon’s SCHLONG!!!
  • How did Napoleon die?
    • Good question… one that is debated to this very day.
    • One of the leading theories is that he died of stomach cancer. The little emperor was also painted in his portraits with his hand in his vest. The thought is that he did this to relieve pain originating from his gut.
  • Ok, so Napoleon’s tomb is located in Paris. His body is kept in a huge granite sarcophagus which is housed inside a giant dome with beautiful art on the walls and ceiling.
    • But his sarcophagus doesn’t contain all of Napoleon’s remains.
  • You see, when Napoleon died in 1821, the French doctor Francesco Autommarchi decided to be wildly unprofessional as many 19th-century doctors were known to do lol.
    • He took souvenirs like Napoleon’s rib and more notably, his penis.
    • How do we know the good doctor took his penis? There were 17 people… 17 eyewitnesses watching him do this…
    • As I mentioned earlier, the rest of his body is buried on St. Helena island, an English-ruled island. But because they don’t know what to label the grave of their enemy, (Emporer, war criminal… it’s a toss-up) just unremarkably put “Here Lies Napoleon.” … Then his body was taken to Paris as I said to be entombed…
      • Fun fact, all the parallels I made between Napoleon and Hitler earlier… well Hitler personally visited Napoleon’s tomb during WW2… I’m starting to think these two were like Sith Master and Apprentice from Star Wars or something
    • After Doctor Francois takes the penis off the dead body he gifts it to Napoleon’s Chaplain, Abbe Ange Vignali… because who doesn’t want a shriveled emperor penis amIright?
    • Vignali takes the penis to the French island of Corsica, but he is killed in a blood vendetta. But Vignali made sure his family kept the Napoleon penis as a family heirloom… they kept it for over a century…
      • Because it stayed in the family for that long it leads one to believe that this family write in their last wills and testaments who gets the shriveled Napoleon weenie LOL
      • Promise I am not making this up
    • Then in 1924, the penis winds up in England in the possession of a book salesman. This dude cataloged the penis as “a mummified tendon.”
    • But Mr. Book salesman decided to sell it to an English collector, ASW Rosenbach for 400 bucks (British pounds). Rosenbach brought the mummy peepee to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
    • Rosenbach got the penis to go on display at the French Art Museum in New York City and newspaper articles described it as… unimpressive.
    • But in 1969 the Museum is not doing so well financially and tries to sell the penis back to Paris at auction… but they don’t want it. The Museum says, “well… do you want it for free?”
      • and the french are like “Nah dude. I don’t want that shit.”
    • Then 8 years later the penis is sold to a one Dr. John K Lattimer
      • Dr. Lattimer is one of the leading urologists in America and he bought this thing for $3,000 LOL
      • Dr. Lattimer was ALSO the urologist hired for the Nuremberg trials… for all the Nazis/
        • OK I’M CONVINCED NAPOLEON AND HITLER ARE LINKED SOMEHOW
      • Dr. Lattimer ALSO worked on the JFK assassination, keeping a part of the upholstery of the car JFK was shot in… it has a blood stain and everything.
      • Dr. Lattimer also has the blood-stained collar of Abraham Lincoln
    • “But what became of the penis?!?!” I hear you ask…
    • Dr. Lattimer didn’t dedicate it to a museum or anything. He brought it back to his home in New Jersey where his family still has it.
  • LET IT BE KNOWN!
    • There have been x-rays done on this thing and all they could confirm is that it is in fact a penis…
    • The French government’s official stance is that this is all made up… but who trusts the French?

THANKS FOR LISTENING WHO’D A THUNKERS!

UNTIL NEXT WEEK

*whispered* the penis is 1.5 inches long… mummified

CREDIT

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