Thursday, 1 July 2010

Napoleon Memorabilia Auctioned - and a new myth created

The auction of the Ibbetson collection in New Zealand has now taken place, with interest from all around the world.

The lock of hair sold for £8600, to an anonymous collector in London. The diary went for £4400.

The item which raised the most was this lithograph of Napoleon on his death bed, which sold for over £9000.

The best news though is that the sketch of Longwood House has been bought by someone from Paris, who is returning it to St Helena, presumably to Longwood House.

I have seen no reports as to what happened to the St Helena theatre play bills - they have no Napoleonic connections and are therefore not very newsworthy. I would be interested to hear what they made and where they have gone.

The Deluded Emperor: The Making of a Myth

Probably the most important result of this auction has been the creation of a new major myth about Napoleon. It is no longer possible to blame this simply on chauvinism in British tabloids, as I did in my earlier post on the subject.

The BBC in its report said that Napoleon still spoke of invading Britain despite his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo .

ABC News, Australia reported that Ibbetson's diary, which sold for $7,800, described conversations with Napoleon, who still harboured ambitions of invading Britain despite his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

CBS has ventured even further into the absurd:
Ibbetson's diary, which detailed conversations with Napoleon, who, after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, still planned to take over the world from his little island domain .

Seriously. Anybody who has read any of the millions of words of evidence about Napoleon on St Helena would not entertain this idea for a nanosecond.

This myth will probably endure for many many years - and there appears to be nothing which distinguished scholars, admirers of Napoleon, or those who simply seek the truth can do about it.

I find it very depressing. How long before it appears on Wikipedia as a fact?

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