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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 5:39 am    Post subject: Why wasn't Napoleon executed?         Reply with quote

I was reading an article on the British 1796 Heavy Cavalry saber when my ever wandering mind began to ponder why the British army stuck Napoleon on an island TWICE, only to have him killed by (accidentally or not) poisoning. They had him, twice, so why didn't they simply kill him? From what I know, the support for the little corporal waxed and wained based on what was in vogue, simply because nobody wanted to get executed for being a Bonapartist (I could be flawed here).

Were the British afraid that executing him would make him a martyr? Did they plan some kind of future use for him? Were there sympathizers on their own shore they were afraid of?

Given what I know about that era, I think capturing him would make me want to put his head on the proverbial chopping block ASAP, given as he's probably the most dangerous European to English interests.

M.

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 6:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd bet on the "martyr" theory. And the possibility that the British might want to keep him as a trump card against the French monarchy, since we ought to remember that the Brits and the French Royalists were at loggerheads before the Revolution gave them a common enemy.
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 6:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't mean to steer conversation away form myArmoury, but you may be interested in this site for further information or reading that may help answer your question:

http://www.napoleon-series.org/

Jonathan
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 3:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Because he had not done anything wrong?
Napoleon was a recogniced as a head of state, and as such he was no more to be executed for his actions than any other King...

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 5:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Why wasn't Napoleon executed?         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
I was reading an article on the British 1796 Heavy Cavalry saber when my ever wandering mind began to ponder why the British army stuck Napoleon on an island TWICE, only to have him killed by (accidentally or not) poisoning. They had him, twice, so why didn't they simply kill him? From what I know, the support for the little corporal waxed and wained based on what was in vogue, simply because nobody wanted to get executed for being a Bonapartist (I could be flawed here).

Were the British afraid that executing him would make him a martyr? Did they plan some kind of future use for him? Were there sympathizers on their own shore they were afraid of?

Given what I know about that era, I think capturing him would make me want to put his head on the proverbial chopping block ASAP, given as he's probably the most dangerous European to English interests.

M.


Well, the rest of Europe was scared to death of him so one would think that executing him might be the answer to the problem. The martyr theory is a good one, but without him at the head of the army it was unlikely that France could return to the power it had before Waterloo. He was a "legitimate" head of state, which is another reason to keep him alive. Had he been executed it would have smacked of the reign of terror after the French revolution and nobody wanted anything like that to happen again.

My belief is the authorities were pretty sure they had him corralled after Waterloo and were confident that, a) his support at home was weak and that, b) the miracle he worked with his first escape was no longer possible for logistics reasons alone.

The theory that he was deliberately poisoned is interesting but my personal feeling is that it was accidental. Arsenic was in use at that time for a host of things other that killing French monarchs and he may have merely been a victim of carelessness.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Grayson C.




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Because he had not done anything wrong?
Napoleon was a recogniced as a head of state, and as such he was no more to be executed for his actions than any other King...


Like Charles I?
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 6:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Grayson C. wrote:
Elling Polden wrote:
Because he had not done anything wrong?
Napoleon was a recogniced as a head of state, and as such he was no more to be executed for his actions than any other King...


Like Charles I?


Charles I was executed by his own subjects.

I can't think of any defeated head of state that was officially or privately put to death by the foreign victors, from the medieval era onward. (there's probably an exception somewhere)
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 6:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Saddam, perhaps? Well, his victors gave him a death sentence -- we used locals to "pull the lever" so to speak.

M.

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Grayson C.




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 7:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
Grayson C. wrote:
Elling Polden wrote:
Because he had not done anything wrong?
Napoleon was a recogniced as a head of state, and as such he was no more to be executed for his actions than any other King...


Like Charles I?


Charles I was executed by his own subjects.

I can't think of any defeated head of state that was officially or privately put to death by the foreign victors, from the medieval era onward. (there's probably an exception somewhere)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regicide

edit: Harold II stands out in my mind. But he was killed in battle, not AFTER battle. Mary Queen of scots, perhaps?
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 9:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
Saddam, perhaps? Well, his victors gave him a death sentence -- we used locals to "pull the lever" so to speak.

M.

International law was very differeny in 1815. For example, as late as 1945 it was generally legal for one country to invade another and add it to its own territory. Today invasion is only legal with the UN's permission, and annexation is never legal. The legal framework for trying and executing tyrants was mostly assembled after WW II.

I don't know much about the specific diplomacy after Waterloo, butI think the ancien regime was instinctively reluctant to kill a European head of state.
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Stephane Rabier




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PostPosted: Thu 06 Aug, 2009 1:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi,
after Sedan defeat, his nephew Napoleon III was exiled and he died in England of desease a few years later.

I think the XIXth century governments considered themselves as highly civilised and didn't want to fall as low in the barbary as the Sans Culottes who beheaded Louis XVI.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Thu 06 Aug, 2009 3:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hm, wasn't Konradin Hochenstaufen executed by the French? But I'm not sure what his title was then.
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Thu 06 Aug, 2009 4:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
Grayson C. wrote:
Elling Polden wrote:
Because he had not done anything wrong?
Napoleon was a recogniced as a head of state, and as such he was no more to be executed for his actions than any other King...


Like Charles I?


Charles I was executed by his own subjects.

I can't think of any defeated head of state that was officially or privately put to death by the foreign victors, from the medieval era onward. (there's probably an exception somewhere)


Mussolini. Communist militias at the orders of Stalin, at least officially.

Un-officially, a combination of that and british agents, a never proven fact however.
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