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"Napoleon Nicknames" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP03 Feb 2018 3:01 p.m. PST

"Nicknames have always been popular. They serve as substitute for a person's proper name and are sometimes used affectionately or at other times as a form of ridicule. Napoleon Bonaparte, the famous French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution, was the recipient of both types of nicknames. One of the first nicknames he acquired was "Nabulio," which mean little meddler. This affectionate nickname was given to him by his family and referred to the mischief he reputedly caused. Napoleon later acquired many other nicknames. Among the many nicknames that he acquired are twenty-one (list below), as well as a brief description of how he obtained each one…"
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Mick the Metalsmith Inactive Member03 Feb 2018 3:14 p.m. PST

So glad to see my least favourite modern one, the reference to a child's diaper, is nowhere to be seen on that list.

42flanker03 Feb 2018 4:08 p.m. PST

Most of those are epithets or allusive references, rather than nicknames.

Nicknames are in common usage either affectionately to one's face (as if!) or behind one's back.

Which pretty much leaves us with 'Nabulio' (I guess), 'Boney,' and perhaps 'Le Petit Caporal.'

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member03 Feb 2018 5:05 p.m. PST

I wonder how many of these nick names were widespread or were they just literary conceits.

I think Nappy was probably mostly called, "The Emperor" and the rest were rarely/ never used.

RudyNelson03 Feb 2018 7:43 p.m. PST

In a political cartoon, he was called the French Ogre iirc.

Le Breton Inactive Member04 Feb 2018 2:36 a.m. PST

"French Ogre"
I looked for this one recently.
Actually "Corsican Ogre" – but as far as I could find it was first in a strange, rambling essay/booklet by a French royalist during the second restoration. And the first English use I could find was about 15 tears later – well after Napolén had died.

britishbulldog04 Feb 2018 2:53 a.m. PST

I agree with 42flanker on this one.
Like Napoleon, I have also been called lots of names during my lifetime and while most have definetley not been nicknames, some have been very apt.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP04 Feb 2018 4:20 a.m. PST

I like "General Buonaparte, the head of the French government" best…

cosmicbank04 Feb 2018 6:28 a.m. PST

"Big Sexy"

Brechtel19804 Feb 2018 8:10 a.m. PST

I like "General Buonaparte, the head of the French government" best…

Perhaps 'First Consul Bonaparte, the head of the French government'?

Brechtel19804 Feb 2018 8:12 a.m. PST

The Grande Armee called him 'Le Tondu' when he had his hair cut 'a la Titus.'

They also called him Father Violet and John of the Sword. And of course l'Empereur which the troops considered but yet another military rank.

Le Breton Inactive Member04 Feb 2018 12:00 p.m. PST

Previously we have had Alexabdre Dumas and Victor Hugo as the source of these lovely nicknames that make Napoléon seem so nice and informal and human – and a great leader. Brechtel wants us to believe that they were original to the era of his life, but can't provide any examples of earlier usages.

Le Tondu or Le Petit Tondu looks like more of the same. Only this time we are looking at Balzac. It is nice to see all the greats of 19th century French literature constributing to a false, mythical legend for the personality of Napoléon, each giving their own little fictional anecdote.

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It seems it was not the Grande Armée that thus named him, but Balzac.

"La comédie humaine" 1845
Honoré de Balzac
page 373

But it became very popular very quickly.
"La Minerve" (1849) and "Histoires drôlatiques de l'Empereur Napoléon Ier" (1854) quoted the work by Balzac verbatim, without attribution.

The name flipped into English quickly – with two authors attributing to Junot the informing of Napoleon of his nickname, using verbatim the same language :
The Imperial Guard of Napoleon: Fron Marengo to Waterloo – Joel Tyler Headley – 1851
The Guards; or, The Household troops of England – Michael Rafter – 1854

The French seemed to think it should be an intimate moment with Joséphine when Naoléon learns of his nickname, such as in the following (again varbatim language is used) :
Nouvelle revue de Bruxelles : "À propos d'une queue coupée" – 1849
Mémoires d'un page de la cour impériale (1850)
Souvenirs intimes du temps de l'empire (1851)
Histoire populaire de la gard impériale (1854)
Three works for children by Émile Marco de Saint-Hilaire

Balzac got copied on stage as well :
Le Petit Tondu, ou une réforme sous l'empire, drame militaire en 3 actes et 10 tableaux. – par Fabrice Labrousse, which opened at the old Théâtre-national Cirque in 1850
A little more upscale cribbing was done by George Sand in "Mare au diable – Andre & La fauvette du docteur – Metella (1851), see page 95 of the first edition

Le Breton Inactive Member04 Feb 2018 12:15 p.m. PST

"l'Empereur which the troops considered but yet another military rank."
That looks like page 35 from "Swords ….."
Why don't you attribute this to Colonel Elting?

In any case, Colonel Elting gave no source for this, and I have little knowledge of public opinion surveys in the early 19th century, but surely do not know of any among the French military that indicates what the "troops considered" about anything, let alone about high government offices.

So, Brechtel, is there anything close to a contempoary source for this that you can provide?
Really, how can we believe the statement that you have asserted?
How are we supposed to know what the "troops considered" on this rather arcane topic?

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP05 Feb 2018 11:51 a.m. PST

Oh God, here we go again.

Murvihill06 Feb 2018 9:35 a.m. PST

Had to look up Hanuman and Sesostris. I didn't know Indian mythos was so popular in England at the time.

von Winterfeldt06 Feb 2018 10:43 p.m. PST

didn't they use ampleur, because he grew so obese?

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