At its height, the Napoleonic Empire spanned much of mainland Europe. Feted and feared by millions of citizens, Napoleon was the most powerful and famous man of his age. But following his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo the future of the one-time Emperor of France seemed irredeemably bleak. How did the brilliant tactician cope with being at the mercy of his captors? How did he react to a life in exile on St Helena - and how did the other inhabitants of that isolated and impregnable island respond to his presence there? And what tactics did he develop to preserve his legacy in such drastically reduced circumstances? Tracing events from the dramatic defeat at Waterloo to his death six years later, this is the first modern comprehensive account of the last phase of Napoleon's life. Drawing on many previously overlooked journals and letters, Brian Unwin has pieced together a remarkably vivid account of Napoleon's final years which also offers fresh insights into the character of this giant of European history.
Through his initial flight from the battlefield and his journey into exile on St Helena, Napoleon refused to accept that he would not be allowed to return to somewhere in Europe or even America. He railed against every aspect of his imprisonment and conspired to make life as difficult as possible for his unfortunate jailer, Hudson Lowe, whose impossible situation is sympathetically described here. Confined with him in the damp and confined Longwood House, life was also uncomfortable for those loyal companions who chose to journey with him into exile. Unsurprisingly for such a man of action, Napoleon bitterly resented being under constant supervision when he ventured outside his house and suffered acutely from boredom as much as from his physical ailments. Contrary to the strict wishes of the English he refused to accept any diminution in his status: 'Je ne suis pas le General Bonaparte, je suis L'Empereur Napoleon.'
But gradually Napoleon came to think less about escape and more about how he would be remembered by future generations, spending hour after hour dictating the story of his campaigns to Count Las Cases, the companion who had travelled with him chiefly to act as his amanuensis. Terrible Exile brilliantly evokes the claustrophobic atmosphere of life on St Helena, offering a colourful and original history of the period as well as a persuasive psychological portrait of a great man in reduced circumstances. It will be essential reading for anyone with an interest in Napoleonic history and is an important addition to our understanding of the subject.
Sir Brian Unwin studied at the universities of Oxford and Yale. After a career in the civil service in Whitehall he became President of the European Investment Bank. He has a longstanding interest in the Napoleonic period and Napoleon's captivity on St Helena and in 2007 visited the island in pursuit of his research. He is the author of A Tale in Two Cities: Fanny Burney and Adele, Comtesse de Boigne (I.B.Tauris)
INTRODUCTION CHAPTER ONE: FROM WATERLOO TO ROCHEFORT CHAPTER TWO (FROM ROCHEFORT TO PLYMOUTH) CHAPTER THREE: THE VOYAGE TO ST HELENA CHAPTER FOUR: ARRIVAL AT ST HELENA CHAPTER FIVE: LONGWOOD HOUSE CHAPTER SIX: THE ARRIVAL OF SIR HUDSON LOWE CHAPTER SEVEN: CAPTIVITY AND CONFRONTATION CHAPTER EIGHT: NAPOLEON'S CONTINUING PROBLEMS CHAPTER NINE: SIR HUDSON LOWE'S PROBLEMS CHAPTER TEN: THE ROAD TO THE END CHAPTER ELEVEN: A JUDGEMENT EPILOGUE