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"Napoleon as a British prisoner" Topic

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138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2020 2:28 p.m. PST

So, the British get a bad press, unsurprisingly from the Francophiles, for shipping Napoleon off on the Billy Ruffian to St Helena. One of the most expensive prisons I can think of.

Granted the "shot while trying to escape" would have been cheaper at the expense of creating a martyr and potential for longer term problems.

What about the third option, would locking him up in Blighty, somewhere like Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire (and as far as you can get from the sea in England) been the better option? Granted it's what Boney wanted, but it does seem cheaper.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2020 2:36 p.m. PST

You just can't get very far from navigable water in the UK, and given the thriving smuggling practice of the era…well, as I recall, six or seven ships sufficed to keep an eye on St Helena. How many would you want to be sure he didn't smuggle himself off Britain? Smallest island sounds like the most economical solution to me.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2020 4:25 p.m. PST

He would have been a mega attraction to all those British intellectuals who were gutted at every Wellingtonian victory and inconsolable after Waterloo.

The thing is, there just wasn't that much official goodwill towards him in Britain. It would have been a bit disgraceful if he had lived it up somewhere in England while soldiers crippled fighting him begged on the streets.

Lovely idea though. You could maybe stick him on one of the Hebrides, which are rather beautiful. The problem was the same as Elba though, i.e. too close to France.

The kindest thing might have been to send him somewhere with a better climate Madeira, perhaps, or Cape Verde. St. Helena's sounds bloody awful.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2020 4:37 p.m. PST

Oh, come now, 4th. If Bonaparte didn't want to be stuck in some isolated backwater with a terrible climate and nothing to do, he shouldn't have joined the army in the first place.

Nine pound round13 Jan 2020 6:07 p.m. PST

The Liverpool government didn't want him in the U.K., because they were afraid the Opposition would demand that it produce a writ of habeas corpus. The British government would then have had to either produce a set of criminal charges and arraign him, or set him free. I suspect they realized the challenges and precedential problems that would flow from such a situation, and wisely left that challenge to later generations.

holdit21 Jan 2020 11:29 a.m. PST


You make some good points in this discussion but I find this one impossible to agree with:

"I also admire the Duke for marrying a woman whose appearance appalled him, he still did the right thing."

He went ahead with the marriage despite no longer wanting her, condemning her to an unhappy married life while he stayed far away, screwing around as it pleased him. He did this for the sake of…wait for it…"honour".

Nine pound round21 Jan 2020 3:01 p.m. PST

The Bug? If not, this thread took a strange turn.

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