Tag Archive: Napoleon


The magic of numbers

Doctor Encausse, better known as Papus, used to say:

“If one knew how to read the numbers which stud our lives, we would perhaps have knowledge of our destiny…  Unhappily, only a few initiates know how to read them, and this is very unfortunate…”

It is indeed very unfortunate, for in History, there exists a quantity of arresting examples which appear to show that Doctor Encausse is right.  These mathematical phenomena that cannot be attributed to chance are extremely numerous.  Here are a few examples:

From his accession to the throne until his death, the political life of Louis XIV seems strangely linked to the number 14.

Let us take the number 14.  This number is linked in a very strange fashion to the life of France’s Sun-King.  It is to be found at the principal crucial points of his political existence:

Louis the Great, who was the 14th monarch of this name, mounted the throne on 14 May 1643.  Add the numbers in 1643 = 1 + 6 + 4 + 3 = 14.

When he was on the point of losing his throne during the Fronde, he was saved by Turenne, at Bleneau, in 1652 (1 + 6 + 5 + 2 = 14).

He was declared major at 14 years old and began to govern personally in 1661 (1 + 6 + 6 + 1 = 14).

This year of 1661 is going to be an important year in his life.  It is in 1661 that his son, the Grand Dauphin is born.  And it is also in this year that, invited by Fouquet to the Chateau de Vaux, he is dazzled, jealous, and decides to build Versailles…

The Sun-King has the Hotel des Invalides built in 1670 (1 + 6 + 7 + 0 = 14).

His star dims at Romillies and at Turino in 1706 (1 + 7 + 0 + 6 =14).

Finally, he dies in 1715 (1 + 7 + 1 + 5 = 14), at the age of 77 (7 +7 = 14), having reigned 72 years (7 x 2 = 14)…

It therefore well appears that the number 14 had been a sort of sign from Destiny all along the Sun-King’s life…  A sign that neither Louis XIV, nor his contemporaries, seem to have noticed, and that we can only note as a mysterious presence…

***

A simple calculation shows that Louis-Philippe and Queen Amelie seem to have had their destiny written in the important dates of their lives.

Many other famous people seem to have had their destinies written in the important dates of their lives.  This was the case, for example, for Louis-Philippe and his wife, gentle Queen Amelie:

Louis-Philippe becomes King in 1830.  He is born in 1773.  Let us add the numbers in this date:  1 + 7 + 7 + 3 = 18.  1830 + 18 = 1848, the date of the Revolution which made him abdicate.

Let us continue:  Queen Amelie, his spouse, is born in 1782 (1 + 7 + 8 + 2 = 18).  1830 + 18 = 1848.

Their union dated from 1809.  By adding 1, 8, 0, and 9, we still find 18 which, added to 1830, gives the date of the collapse of their throne and their exile…

***

Numbers sometimes reveal the strange links that exist between events which are apparently very unrelated, or even between certain people.  This is how a curious parallel can be established between Napoleon and Hitler.  Let us closely follow Guy Breton:

The numbers show that there is a mysterious link between the careers of Napoleon I (right) and Adolf Hitler.

The French Revolution begins in 1789.

The German Revolution in 1918.

The difference between these two dates is 129 years.

Napoleon’s arrival to power (18 brumaire) dates from 1799;  Hitler’s dates from 1928.  Difference:  129 years

Napoleon is Emperor in 1804.  Hitler becomes Fuhrer in 1933.  Difference:  129 years.

Napoleon’s Russian Campaign dates from 1812.

Hitler’s Russian Campaign, from 1941.

Difference:  129 years

Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo is in 1815.

The Allied Landings, which is the event which determines Hitler’s fall, is in 1944.

Difference:  129 years

Finally, Napoleon dies in 1821.  And if we believe the sayings of certain historians who refuse to believe that Hitler died in the Berlin Bunker in 1945, the Nazi Chief supposedly finished his life in Argentina, near Mar del Plata, in 1950…

1950 – 1821 = 129 years

***

Louis IX of France, known as Saint Louis

Another example:  If Napoleon and Hitler are very curiously linked together by the number 129, we notice that Saint-Louis [Louis IX] and Louis XVI were connected by the number 539.

Here is what can be noted:

Saint Louis was born on 23 April 1215.

Louis XVI on 23 August 1754.

Difference:  539 years.

Isabelle, sister of Saint Louis, was born in 1225.

Elisabeth, sister of Louis XVI, was born in 1764.

Difference:  539 years.

Louis XVI.

Louis VIII, father of Saint Louis, dies in 1226.

The Dauphin Louis, father of Louis XVI, dies in 1765.

Difference:  539 years.

Saint Louis, victorious, concludes a peace with Henry III of England in 1243.

Louis XVI, victorious, concludes a peace with George III of England in 1782.

Difference:  539 years.

A prince from the Orient announces to Saint Louis, by an embassy, his desire to become a Christian, in 1249.

A prince from the Orient sends an ambassador to Louis XVI for the same reason, in 1788.

Difference:  539 years.

Beginning of the Revolt of the Pastouraux, of which the apostate Jacob was the head, in 1250.

Beginning of the activities of the Jacobins in 1789.

Difference:  539 years.

At the end of his captivity, Saint Louis goes to La Madeleine-en-Provence in 1254.

At the end of his captivity in the Temple, Louis XVI is beheaded and is inhumed in the Madeleine Cemetery in 1793.

Difference:  539 years.

In view of all this, how can we not believe that certain numbers, to which we are linked by obscure affinities, mysteriously rule our destiny?

***

There is no explanation for all this.  As Doctor Encausse used to say:

“One has the impression that we are directed by a destiny that is a mathematician and gives us, all throughout our existence, coded information which it is up to us to decipher…”

***

Arithmetic was for a long time considered as a science related to Hermetism.

The universe of numbers is a mysterious universe which touches on magic…  Here is an example with the “golden number” which we simplify in the form of 3.1416.  This number is very important in mathematics since it indicates the relation which exists between the circumference of a circle and its diameter.  For centuries, Chinese, Egyptian and Greek scholars – Archimedes himself – before Leibnitz and Newton, tried to evaluate it.  It can be obtained in a very simple, but very singular, way.

Take a sheet of paper and a pin.  Trace several parallel lines on the paper, separated by a distance representing twice the length of the pin.  Then throw the pin on the drawing without aiming.  Do it one hundred times, one thousand times, five thousand times, ten thousand times and more.  Note the number of times that you have thrown the pin, then the number of times that it fell on a line.  Divide the first number by the second.

For 100 throws of the pin, you will obtain 2.7;  for 500 throws, 2.94;  for 1,000 throws, about 3;  for 2,500 throws, 3.004;  for 5,000 throws, 3.14;  for 10,000 throws, 3.141.  That is to say, the beginning of the golden number with three decimals.  And if you continue, the golden number will become even more refined.  You will obtain 3.1415 – 3.14159 – 3.141592 – 3.1415926 – 3.14159265 – 3.141592653 – 3.1415926535, etc. or the numbers that the best calculating machines would give you…

You can change the orientation of the sheet of paper, throw the pin any way that you want, you will always find the same result, and it will be the golden number…

***

Guy Breton gives another example of the mystery surrounding numbers.  You will see that, whatever the rationalists say, whatever touches mathematics can sometimes arrive at the inexplicable.

Do the following experiment:  during a gathering of friends, ask that they guess the number of peas in a cup.  You will notice, by studying the results obtained, that most of the numbers that are given to you end in zero.  Then, in decreasing order of frequency, the terminal numbers 5, 8, 2, 3, 7, 6, 4, 9, 1, and always in this order.  You can re-do the experiment as many times as you wish, you will always obtain the same series.  This list of numbers seems to be linked in an inexplicable fashion to the phenomenon of divination which, after all, constitutes an evaluation.

All evaluations obey this rule.  In the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, figure the tomb inscriptions from three regions of Ancient Rome.  The Romans inscribed the age of the dead on the tombs, but they didn’t do it as precisely as we do.  They evaluated this age.  And, if we examine the numbers reported by the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, we find exactly the series 0, 5, 8, 2, 3, 7, 6, 4, 9, 1…

The last example is American.  During a census done around 1950 in Alabama, the citizens are asked to indicate their ages.  Knowing that, in this State, there was a high percentage of African Americans who didn’t know their date of birth and were going to content themselves with an evaluation, an American mathematician, Leslie J. Myers, asked to study the results.  There again he found the same series of terminal numbers

***

This could give the impression that these numbers surge from another universe to give us signs that we don’t understand.  These signs seem to abolish chance.  Sometimes in malicious fashion.  Let us look at this story.  Around 1950, a group of theologists of the Etudes carmelitaines wrote a thick book on Satan…  When this book left the printers’, the authors received a shock:  their work had 666 pages…  And 666 is the number of the Beast in the Apocalypse…

***

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Denis Saurat.

Denis Saurat remembered that the two officers in his vision, from what he “perceived”, were connected to no campaign or battle.  It then came to him that he could have been witness to a scene of military occupation carried out in execution of a treaty.  He therefore sent his daughter again to the library to bring him back a Diplomatic History of Napoleon.  When he had the work, he attentively studied all the treaties.  He soon arrived at that of Tilsit and discovered that, by the terms of this treaty, Napoleon had obtained the right to militarily occupy Germany’s South, and that the troops of his allies, the Confederation du Rhin, had advanced as far as the Bohemian forest, precisely to Fichtel Gebirge.

The operation had been executed by the German troops of Rhenania, but was commanded by French officers.

At Tilsit, Napoleon had obtained from Alexander I the right to occupy Southern Germany.

Denis Saurat understood then that the two young officers in his vision had a mission of surveillance over the passages of the troops as far as the Naab, to the East of which, in all probability, other officers would take over.

He had therefore witnessed, in his vision, in 1939, a scene which had unfolded in 1808…

***

Denis Saurat reports this vision, in all its details, in one of his most fascinating books entitled:  L’Experience de l’Au-dela.  He was very interested in dreams;  not for their Freudian signification, nor for their interpretation through any sort of “key to dreams”, but in dreams as images of the future or the past perceived during sleep.

***

In this case, it was a sort of waking dream.  At the moment when Denis Saurat saw the scene that he recounted, he was in that intermediate state between waking and sleeping, where it is enough to just close one’s eyes to see images forming.  It’s a sort of little cinema that everyone knows and of which we usually only conserve a vague memory, or even, very often, no memory at all…

***

Denis Saurat’s vision seems to have been particularly long.  The people who studied this case generally think that the exceptional length of this vision could have been due to the febrile state of the writer.  We have said that he was in bed, with the ‘flu and a high temperature.  This fever could have made the vision more precise, clearer and more stable.  For he had the time to look attentively at the map and to fix its important details in his memory.

***

The Naab and its affluents.

Thinking that he may have seen the map on a previous occasion, he did some research on it.  Knowing that he had learnt Geography from a Vidal-Lablache atlas, he looked for this book and noticed that the course of the Naab is only just indicated, without its affluents…  Which is the case in most school atlases.  And pupils are hardly able to remember the Naab after having studied the Danube basin…  Denis Saurat had never had before his eyes any detailed map of this part of Germany.  It must therefore be concluded that, on this January morning in 1939, for inexplicable reasons, (a)  he had a precise vision of an object – in this case, a map of Germany’s South;  (b)  he had witnessed a scene connected to an historical context of which he knew nothing and which he was able to reconstitute by investigating it…  Which necessarily leads to this conclusion:  that an image of the past, surging from we don’t know where, appeared in front of his half-closed eyes, one feverish evening…

***

Certain biologists think that our genes are able to channel information, and possibly images, from the past…  This could be an explanation.  If this is true, some of our dreams could be retained as documents…  One day, perhaps, we will know how to see, sort, capture and use the millions and millions of images coming from the depths of the ages, which are sleeping inside us, and to which we attach no importance.  As Jung said,

“the History of the world is perhaps written in our memory”…

***

There is another hypothesis emitted by American psychiatrists who have studied this case:  it’s that Denis Saurat had been one of the two officers in a former life…  His vision would then be only a memory of a moment lived by him in 1808.  Eminent scholars like Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, devote their careers to the exploration of the possibilities of reincarnation, and a “must-read” is the remarkable work by Isola Pisani, Mourir n’est pas mourir [Dying is not dying], on Mrs Grant-Kelsey and Doctor Kelsey who cure, in Pangbourne, in Berkshire, sixty kilometres from London, illnesses caused by a trauma suffered during a preceding life.  Dr Kelsey discovered that most psychoses and neuroses come from unconscious memories of past existences, and he evolved from this a revolutionary therapeutic method.  To put his clients into contact with images of their preceding lives, he uses hypnosis.  It could be thought that Denis Saurat found himself placed by fever in a state of consciousness close to that into which Dr Kelsey’s patients enter… 

***

The French writer Denis Saurat.

The writer, Denis Saurat, was born in 1890 and died in 1958.  He was a Professor at London University from 1925 to 1945, the author of works on Milton, Blake, Victor Hugo, and of a curious study on Atlantis and the Reign of the Giants [L’Atlantide et le Regne des geants].

***

On 31 January 1939, Denis Saurat was in bed with the ‘flu.  Feverish, he had taken two grains of quinine around 11 p. m.  Just before going to sleep, in that intermediate state between wakefulness and sleep, when the Conscious is still functioning clearly, he suddenly had a curious vision.  Two young officers in a navy-blue uniform were leaning over a table where a fairly big map was spread.  They were attentively looking at this map and appeared very satisfied.

Denis Saurat then had the impression that he was double.  While witnessing the scene, he was at the same time identifying himself with one of the officers, the younger one.  This is how he knew that the two men had received the order to make all the necessary preparations for a passage of troops through a country that they did not know, and that they were happy to have discovered this map.

This feeling of being double, which was making him live both in an unclear past and, at the same time, on the 31 January 1939, allowed him to see the two officers and know as well what the younger of the two was thinking.  This is how he knew that these soldiers were not organizing a war operation, but a movement of troops during peacetime.  They were not of a very high grade, Lieutenant or Captain at the most.  Denis Saurat understood that they must be preparing the manoeuvre on paper and submitting their work to a higher authority.

They were, for the moment, very interested in the course of a river which flowed from North to South.  Denis Saurat noticed that this river began by a fork.  That is to say by two bodies of water which joined into one.  It received, on the right bank, two principal affluents.  He also noticed that the second affluent toward the South, itself had one on the right bank.

The two officers were seeking, it seemed, to avoid as much as possible crossing the river, trying not to concentrate troops between the Southern affluent and its secondary affluent.

The map, which was extremely detailed, allowed them to minutely prepare all the operations.  Denis Saurat, who was carefully following all of their movements, noticed that they were not thinking of sending their troops through the two Northern water courses.

While observing the scene which continued to unfold in front of his half-closed eyes, the writer then held the following reasoning:

“The map that I see at the moment is perfectly unknown to me.  What a marvellous proof if I could identify the rivers!  That would bring absolute proof of the perception of events before my birth;  what a pity that I can’t get up and write down all of this;  for I would catch a worse cold than the one that I already have.  I shall therefore go to sleep, and, as usual, tomorrow morning I shall have forgotten everything.  Anyway, I probably wouldn’t have been able to identify the river system… “

Upon which, he went to sleep.

But the following day, to his great amazement, he remembered the map perfectly.  As he had to remain in bed all day and had nothing to do, he decided to try to identify the river.  He would later write:

“I was sure that it existed.  If I was lucky enough to discover its name and situate it, I would have succeeded in the observation of a phenomenon of real vision.”

Firstly, he drew the map to the best of his ability and showed it to his daughter – so as to have a witness.  He told her to look at the sketch, then go to the library for an atlas.  While she was gone he reflected.  He would write:

“I was perfectly awake on this morning of 1st February 1939, in full possession of the memory of the vision, but was no longer, in any way, identifying myself with the young officer.

“The first fact which now hit me, was that the map that I had seen the day before was excellent, and not one of those sketches from the XVIIth or XVIIIth Centuries, more picturesque than precise.  It was, in its way, a scientific map:  no doubt a map from the beginning of the XIXth Century”.

The second fact which appeared to him was that there weren’t any railroads on the map;  and that, in the minds of the young officers, railroads did not exist.  Their problem was a road problem, and as they did not regret the absence of railroads, Denis Saurat concluded that it was because they hadn’t been invented at the time.

These two facts seemed to designate – and this corresponded to the uniforms – a period of the Napoleonic epoch;  but, a rather curious detail, a period of peace.

Plus, it wasn’t an important operation, but a small movement, prepared by young officers.

To have a starting point, the writer tried to concentrate his thoughts on the rivers flowing from the North to the South near which Napoleon had fought battles.  He soon realised that there weren’t many in Europe.  The Saone and the Rhone first came to mind;  but, very evidently, they had nothing to do with the facts.  Then he thought of the Ulm, one of Napoleon’s great victories.  A glance at the atlas brought by his daughter showed him that no river around Ulm flowed from North to South.

In his vision, Denis Saurat saw a map with the Naab and its affluents.

He was beginning to think that the search was impossible when his eyes, following the course of the Danube, fell on Ratisbonne.  Immediately, the shape of its water course clearly appeared to him.  And he recognised all the details of the map:  the fork to the North, the two affluents on the right bank and the secondary affluent of the most Southern water course.  The map that he had seen was bigger, more detailed than that which was now in front of him, but it concerned the same region, that is to say a country going from Fichtel Gebirge to Ratisbonne.  There, he was able to see why the two young officers were not thinking of making the troops cross the Northern fork:  that region was that of the high mountains of the Boehmer Wald.  The river was the Naab.

“My rough morning sketch was therefore not too bad for an inexperienced eye and hand;  the river system was perfectly recognizable, even on my sketch.

“I had therefore proven that my vision was a real vision, since it had given me the drawing of something which really existed and which I had never seen before.”

There remained the historical aspect of the vision.  To what event was the scene which he had witnessed connected?

To be continued.

The Baron de Geramb

Until his arrest, the Baron de Geramb is occupied, with great perseverance, in turning the crowned heads of Europe against Napoleon.  He also attempts to win over the Prince de Conde, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armee des Emigres.  For this purpose, he goes to Worms and to Coblenz where the Emigres had reconstituted a little turbulent and exalted Court.

The Duke de Berry, who is there, does not, however, succumb to Geramb’s charm.  He is supposed to have said of him:

“This charlatan is more a General for the Jacobins than a General against them”.

Superficial impressions perhaps inspire this severe judgement.  Just imagine the Baron arriving with his portable arsenal at the refined Coblenz Court.  Or, perhaps the Duke has a rapid intuition of the Baron’s fragile psychology.  Police reports, generally bad, because they are drawn up by people who have every interest in denigrating the Baron, perhaps influence the Duke, too.

***

It is certain that, at the Empire’s collapse, when he leaves prison, Geramb has his moment of truth, which definitively cures him of his youthful extravagances.  At forty-three, after twenty-five years of dissipations and extravagances, he draws the line on his follies.

For thirty-three years, he devotes himself to his religious Order, with the same fervour that he put into his profane adventures.  It is from 1816 that he throws himself headlong into Faith, a bit like Saint Augustin, who starts out by “throwing hinself into love”, the physical variety, before serving only the glorious body of the chosen, as he, himself, will say.

***

Brother Marie-Joseph

The general biographical acts of the clergy allow us to follow more easily the different stages of his second existence.  On the portrait that we have of him, he appears a bit absorbed in devotion, his head partly bald and his body thickened.  The mystery of his size is not really cleared up because he is represented seated.  The police reports are very contradictory also on this point:  some give him as one metre seventy-five, others one metre sixty-five, that is to say, way off the gigantic size given to him by the English press when he debarks in London.

What is certain is that he played an important role in the Order of the Trappists, a most venerable Order, since its foundation goes back to the XIIth Century, and which counts several dozen convents and a few thousand monks in the middle of the XVIIIth Century.

The function that he exercised, “General Procurer” of the Order, puts him on an equal footing with the “General Abbot” who, from 1892, will reside in Rome.  In Rome, where the adventures of Geramb are known, and captivate the highest Vatican dignitaries.

But this life, so very rich and so spell-binding, whose magical character is undeniable, hides a last mystery, which is quite sizeable.  Adulated by his equals, estimed by the whole hierarchy of the Church, Geramb is also received by pious Queen Marie-Amelie, the daughter of that Marie-Caroline whose head he had turned so well, twenty-five years earlier.

He is at the head of a religious Order, which is very strict about its Rule, at the Paris Court and in Rome, but he dies without ever having received Orders, not even the “quatre moindres”.

We don’t even know where he is buried.

***

The Baron de Geramb

It seems fairly certain that the Baron de Geramb is born in Lyon on 14 July 1772.  His father is an Austrian citizen who moves to Lyon to trade in silk, and his mother, Marie-Magdeleine Lassause is of the good middle-class.  In 1790, his father returns to Vienna, taking his wife and two daughters, the sisters of Ferdinand-Francois, the spirited Baron.  No-one knows if Geramb goes with his parents when they return to Austria, which is motivated by the excesses of the French Revolution (the Baron’s own step-father will be guillotined in 1793).  This uncertainty also authorises many hypotheses on his identity:  the chronicle of his adventures really only starts in 1809, at the Court of Vienna.  Is the adolescent fleeing the proscriptions, and the knight serving the Empress of Austria, the same man?  Nothing permits us to affirm it with certainty.

On the other hand, we can be assured of the perfect honorablility of the Gerambs who are of authentic nobility, which gives them a very visible situation at the Vienna Court.  Geramb’s uncle had received letters of bourgeoisie from the city of Lyon, in 1763, and had acquired the lands and the Castle of Jigny, one of the most beautiful domains in Bourgogne [Burgundy].  We also know that the Baron’s mother returns to live in Lyon, her town of birth, at the end of the French Revolution.

***

Our Baron makes frequent stays in Lyon, from 1814.  His mother never repudiates her prodigal son, and neither does the rest of the family.  When she is asked about him, she indicates that he is “in the military state or public servant”, that he is a widower and the father of three children.  There is, however, no trace of either his wife or any descendance.

The most troubling fact is that this man, reputed for his sincerity and his often brutal frankness, will deny throughout his whole life that he was born in Lyon, and will never reveal the place of his birth.

***

The French authorities intend to organize a confrontation between mother and son.  Right throughout his detention in France, they zealously try to pierce the mystery of his origins.  For very simple reasons:  Geramb assuredly knows a lot of important people in Europe.  Because of this, he is feared to be a spy and a lot is expected of him as an eventual indicator or informer.

At the time of his incarceration, the French police learn that he really did have plans to kill the Emperor.  During his stay in Palermo, he is supposed to have proposed to Queen Marie-Caroline that he go to Paris to assassinate him.  Every day, he practised firing pistols at a target which was a portrait of Napoleon.

His acquaintances and his reputation afford him the special prison treatment meted out to “political” prisoners.  The quarters in the prisons where he is incarcerated are those reserved for important prisoners.

For example, the man whom he finds in the fiacre which carries him to La Force, and with whom he will share a cell, is none other than Monsignor de Boulogne, a famous Prelate of the time, who is imprisoned for the crime of Ultramontanism.

***

The confrontation between mother and son is supposed to take place in November 1812.  It is the tragic outcome of the Russian campaign which adjourns Madame Geramb’s arrival in Paris.  The Empire’s gradual crumbling after that, means that this confrontation, which would have been decisive, never takes place.

***

Geramb’s title of Baron is authentic.  He obtained it in circumstances which are again strange.  Many questions have been asked about the reasons for the Baron’s “flight” when, in 1809, Napoleon is advancing in forced marches towards Vienna.  He is known to be courageous, even temerarious, and this precipitous retreat does not fit with the character.

His detractors have accused him of embezzling the money that he received from selling lieutenant commissions to young nobles – these sales are customary at the time.  This explanation is surely false, for three months later, on 19 July 1809, the Emperor of Austria confers the title of “Austrian Baron” on him, a great and very coveted favour.  The best explanation is to be found in the role that Geramb plays at the Court of Vienna.  A beautiful young man, spirited, dancing attendance, always in love, our Chamberlain rapidly attracts the fascinated gazes of the ladies of the Court.  The Empress finds that he has an allure “which incites to the most romanesque thoughts” and shows him all sorts of attentions.  Her prevenances are such that the Emperor of Austria, Franz I is offended by them, obliging our gallant Equerry to go away.  It is later shown, however, that he doesn’t hold a grudge.

***

A superficial examination of Geramb’s existence allows us to see a certain harmony, in spite of the blurred, mysterious parts of it.

All of the first part of his life, that is to say from 1790 to 1815, is consecrated to adventures, pleasures, intrigues and spectacular acts.  During all this period, he is taking care of his image of providential man, God’s flail, the defender of civilization.

He succeeds in attracting the confidence of some of the most important men of the epoch…  The Cortes name him General and send him with letters patent to England “to solicit the support of King George”.

***

Getting together an army of deserters can seem like an excellent idea.  Le us not forget that from 1810, the Napoleonic armies are above all improvised armies, from which even the generals often defect.  One of the reasons for the crumbling of the Empire is the excessive demand for recrutes;  deserters, refractory soldiers and prisoners are innumerable.

Persecuted by the recruting sergeants or mortified in their patriotic feelings, the young Europeans of the time dream only of fighting the one that they already call the “Ogre”.  The greatest artists of the epoch, Goya, Chateaubriand and Beethoven, are hostile to him, and it is this quasi general reprobation outside France’s frontiers which will precipitate his fall.  Geramb therefore dreams, a few years in advance, of making the Emperor the enemy of Europe…  which effectively happens in 1814.

***

To be continued.

The Baron de Geramb

The French obtain Geramb’s extradition from Denmark, and he is thrown into Hamburg Prison.  In five nights, he writes five memorandums to d’Aubignosc, the Regional Director of the Police.

Each memorandum is more violent than the preceding one, with the English being the objects of this violence.  His hate for Napoleon had been real, he explains, but it was only… disappointed love, and he now dreams only of serving him… with his 24,000… Cossacks!

D’Aubignosc, astounded, has him transferred to Paris where, closely guarded, he enters Widow Dupeyron’s maison de sante, which is a sort of pension house for big, recalcitrant children, with no authorised outings.

This place, which up until now has been completely unremarkable, quickly becomes the neighbourhood’s centre of attention.  When his companions in captivity refuse to sing Napoleon’s praises, he sends a large part of the furniture through the windows, and on one particular day, a celebratory fire that he has lit in the Emperor’s honour almost burns down the whole building.

From his prison, for it is a prison, he manages to make a great many acquaintances, and a painter even executes a portrait of him kneeling in the Tuileries asking Napoleon for Justice.  He dedicates it to Marie-Louise with a plea in his own hand written in…  eleven languages.

One day, Widow Dupeyron’s nerves snap, and that same evening he is thrown into a cell in the Vincennes donjon.  The shadow of these high walls then bathes him for long months.

In isolation, he knows nothing about the Malet conspiracy, the Russian campaign, or anything else which is happening in Europe.

Then, one night, there is a great upheaval in the donjon.  People are running, calling to each other.  The door to his cell opens and he is pushed into a fiacre with barred windows.  An elderly man, visibly deranged, is already there in the company of two gendarmes…  The one that he takes for a madman murmurs between two prayers:

“The Allies.  The Allies.  They are near.”

Both of them find themselves inside the lugubrious La Force Prison for another few weeks, and one fine day, all the doors open:  it is the end of the Empire.

For Geramb, it is the beginning of new problems for now he is homeless, in the streets of Paris.  Finished, desperate, penniless, to the point of having to contact the penitentary administration who had omitted to give him the last month of his political prisoner loan of one hundred and twenty francs.

For two years, his name is not heard.  As if the cold of his cell had frozen his petulance forever…

Then suddenly, he appears in a report from the Prefect of the Mayenne.  The Prefect has heard that a “certain Geramb”, former prisoner of the State, is in the service of the monks of the Port-Salut convent.  He, so reserved, so discrete, so quiet, has chosen to pursue his career with the Trappist monks.  It won’t be too long before he goes back to his usual habits.

On the wall of his cell, he paints a great skeleton with this written near it:

“Perhaps this night”

and a little lower this motto:

“Remain silent, suffer, and die.”

The Prior of Port-Salut tries in vain to moderate the ardour of the neophyte Brother Marie-Joseph.  As the convent is poor, he scours the surrounding castles where his success is prodigious.  He rhythms on the piano a waltz of louis which build up under his begging monk’s frock.  He dances, sings romantic songs, and draws tears from the bodies of the pretty ladies of the manor.  The story of his adventures particularly fascinates the most worldly, and he even applies himself to literature, in between the exercises of piety which appear sincere.  In 1835, he recounts his trip to Jerusalem in a book.  It becomes a best-seller.

All his gaiety has returned, tempered, however, by real apostolic zeal, which will not prevent Monsieur de Cheverus, who meets him at this epoch, from describing him like this:

“Try to imagine a powder keg under the hood of a Trappist monk.”

In 1837, he is in Rome, preceded by a flattering reputation:  all on his own, he has succeeded in amassing a fortune for the different convents which have welcomed him.

The Pope receives him, he seduces all of the great Vatican dignitaries.  One day, Gregory XVI exclaims seriously:

“We are two Popes now, Father Geramb, and myself!”

The Holy Father even gives him the responsibility of carrying a gold candle to Queen Amelie in France, on his behalf.  So, here he is in full Abbot costume, his floating mantel negligently passed over his shoulder, the short mitre on his head, climbing the staircase at the Tuileries.

Brother Marie-Joseph, Baron de Geramb

An engraved portrait of him circulates in Paris.  He is represented in a religious robe, with a long beard, partly bald head, his eyes, with little glasses, raised toward a crucifix.  His hand is placed on a skull.  Underneath, are the words:

“Great God, in the name of Jesus-Christ, misericord!”

This is the last tangible sign that he leagues to his contemporaries and to posterity.  This fabulous adventurer, who was considered the greatest talker in Europe, this giant of mysterious origins who lived adventures more astonishing than the heroes of Sue, of Balzac and of Alexandre Dumas, is soon completely silenced.

He dies in Rome, on 15 March 1848, the General Procurer of the Order of the Trappists, mourned by all the monks of silence.

***

Geramb’s successive disappearances, the relative poverty of the available documents, and in particular, the mystery of his origins, give a rather blurred image of him, which adds even more spice to his adventures.

***

He really did exist.  All sorts of documents emanating from the newspapers of the epoch, from national police archives, from the general biography of the clergy and from the national archives prove it.

***

To be continued.

The Baron de Geramb

General Ferdinand-Francois, Baron de Geramb

On the afternoon of 20 April 1810, an English frigate, coming from Cadiz, drops anchor in the Port of London.  A giant of two metres, with azure eyes and Cyclopean shoulders, debarks.  His thick brown hair cascades in the wind and his long moustache, in the Hussard style, proudly turns up at the ends.

And what a costume!  The English, who are notoriously flegmatic, stand gaping.  Under the wolf-skin dolman, attached on his chest with a silver skull and crossbones, there blazes an Hungarian jacket with frogging.  Red thigh boots, tight white riding pants, and wide-cuffed gloves complete this outfit.

His hat is a great astrakan colback with a bouquet of heron feathers in panache…  His belt holds no fewer than sixty cartridges and six small pistols.  A dagger and a club hang at his side and an enormous scimitar bangs against his left calf, as well as a sabretache embroidered with skulls and crossbones…

This character, who calls himself the Baron de Geramb, an Hungarian officer, installs himself on the edge of Hyde Park in a superb house which he furnishes very expensively and supplies with an extravagant number of domestics.  His horses prance underneath his porch and all this show, plus the stories of those who meet him, easily open credit for him with suppliers.  How can you not have confidence in this character who speaks all the languages of Europe, swallows two chickens and a ham for breakfast and kills three horses under him in one day?  It is even said that his laugh makes crystal decanters explode…

At this epoch, Europe is leagued against Napoleon, and England is the meeting place for all those who dream of getting rid of the Emperor.

But who is this Baron de Geramb?  Nothing less than Napoleon’s personal enemy.  His implacable rival, who promises to put his bravery and the strength of his genius at the service of Civilization.  He gives himself no more than five months to succeed…

He has a plan all ready, and he explains this plan to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lord Wellesley, in person, who is a regular visitor.

To begin with, he is going to get all the Dutch, the Illyrians, the Saxons, the Badois, the Spanish and the Piemontais, who have been forcibly enrolled into Napoleon’s armies, to desert.  The multitude of refractory conscripts and proscripted people of all sorts will come to join this troop.  It will be a formidable army which will receive the decisive support of “his” 24,000 Croats.  Freshly equipped, they are impatiently waiting back there in Hungary to lead the Armada which is going to roll over the Normandy coast.  One small detail:  he will cede his Croats to England at cost price, plus travelling expenses, that goes without saying.

Wellesley, who has trouble recovering from his amazement, finds all this admirable.  But, like the good Englishman that he is, he has enquiries made, which give astonishing results.

The English police is already a model of efficiency at this epoch.  However, in spite of all the noise that the extravagant Geramb has made in several European countries, its emissaries are never able to find out his country of birth.  Is he French, Austrian, Jewish, Hungarian?  Is Geramb his real name?  Some think that they recognize in him Prince Murat in person.

However, they recall that a certain Geramb who resembles him like a brother was talked about in Rome where he climbed the bronze ball which dominates Saint Peter’s cupola, at the risk of breaking his neck twenty times over.  Just to engrave his name on it…  In Naples, one day when Vesuvius was in effervescence, he fought a duel on the edge of the crater.

In Vienna, he eclipsed Sir Walter Raleigh’s famous gesture by ripping off his jacket to cover a little stream of water, under the foot of the Empress who was passing by.

There, he is immediately promoted to Chamberlain, raises a corps of volunteers, flanked by his brightly-coloured aides-de-camp, and cedes his Lieutenant’s commission for a good price.  But when Napoleon approaches Vienna, he disappears.

He rises to the surface again in Palermo where Queen Caroline, who is very sensitive to well-built men, swoons at the sight of him.

Then he is even more decorated and beplumed than ever.  Without worrying about gossip, he attends revues on Caroline’s arm.  And then, as the rumours swell, he leaves, pretexting that the Cortes of Spain want to see him.

Then here he is in Cadiz where he gets General’s epaulettes, and then to London where, as we have seen, he attempts to get money for his 24,000 Croats.

Upon reading this information, Wellesley says that he is definitively edified.  Geramb receives a sack of one hundred guineas as the only payment for his extravagances, and is told to leave English soil within three weeks.

In the peaceful home at Hyde Park, there is immediately a terrifying upheaval.  The General lets out such cries that all his personnel flees in terror.  He demands to be instantly reimbursed for all his expenses, barricades himself, and threatens to blow up the neighbourhood.  The police attack, and to their surprise, he surrenders quietly.

That same evening, he is embarked, and a few days later, he, his dolman, his boots, his white riding pants and all his armury are thrown onto a Danish beach.

The London gazettes of course talk about the event and of his hate for Napoleon:  a hanging offence when everyone knows that the King of Denmark is the Emperor’s most faithful ally.

All this noise appears very suspicious to the French police.  In the Ministries, it is thought to be some sort of English trick to infilter a spy.

In his prison, Geramb writes to the King of Denmark to assure him that, on the whole Earth, there is no greater enemy of England than himself.  He even solicits permission to raise, at his own expense, a monument to the crimes of perfidious Albion.

To be continued.

Monsieur Berard does not believe in premonitory dreams and has never been interested in what we call today paranormal phenomena.  However, it seems to him that his nightmare is connected to the drama in which Maitre Arnaud is the victim.  Finally, he talks about it to a friend to whom, three years before, he had recounted his bad night at the inn.  He tells him that he has the impression that he had witnessed an assassination – three years in advance.

His friend just shrugs his shoulders.  So, Mr Berard, who wants to find out if it is true, goes to find the judge who is in charge of the enquiry into the lawyer’s disappearance.  He knows this magistrate well.  He tells him that, for reasons which he will explain later, he is greatly interested in Me Arnaud’s disappearance, and he would like his authorisation to be present at the interrogation of the “Rendez-vous des amis” innkeepers.  The judge tells him that he is in luck.  The woman is to be heard a little later.  He invites his fellow magistrate to remain in his chambers.

Half an hour later, a guard ushers in the inn-keeper’s wife who sits down without recognizing Mr Berard.  Interrogated by the judge, she says that a traveller whose description corresponds to that of Me Arnaud – he had big side-whiskers – came to her inn on the evening of 24 August, but that he hadn’t spent the night there.  She adds:

“Anyway, there are only two chambers;  they are above the main room, and, that night, both of them were occupied by carters.”

The judge asks her if that is all that she has to declare.  She replies that that is all.

The clerk is about to read her statement back to her, when, suddenly, Mr Berard intervenes:

“And the third chamber?”

The woman gives him a nasty look.

“What chamber?”

“The one above the stable!”

The woman pales and the young magistrate continues:

“I am going to tell you how it all happened:  Me Arnaud slept in this third chamber.  During the night, you came with your husband, you, holding a lantern, he, holding a long knife.  You climbed the outside staircase, you opened the door which is hidden by a curtain;  your husband plunged his knife into the lawyer’s throat, then he stole his watch and his purse…”

The judge, thunderstruck, looks from his colleague to the woman, who seems terrified.  Mr Berard continues:

“Then, you took the cadaver, your husband holding the feet, you the shoulders, and you descended it to the courtyard.  To light you, your husband held the lantern’s ring with his teeth.  After which, you hid your victim’s body under a pile of dung…”

The innkeeper’s wife is livid, her hands are trembling.  She murmurs:

“You saw everything!”

Mr Berard agrees:

“Everything!”

Then the woman falls to her knees and confesses.

The next day, Me Arnaud’s body is found hidden under a pile of dung…

***

There are two sources for this story:  Mr Berard, himself, who published it in Revue des Revues of 15 September 1895;  and the Chief of the Surete, Goron, who related it in his Memoires.

***

This is a very exceptional case of premonition, for it is not just a vague impression, or one of those dreams whose symbols have to be interpreted by a Key to Dreams.  Mr Berard saw, in all its details, an assassination which would only be committed three years later…  This is more than a premonition:  it is a real vision of the future.

***

Many physicists emit the hypothesis of the co-existence of a past-present-future.  And time has been compared to a street down which we are travelling.  When we are at No 1, we cannot yet see the house at No 100.  But it already exists…  And when we are at No 100, No 1, which we have passed a long time ago, still exists…  It is a good image.

***

Our spirit often circulates in time while we are asleep.  This phenomenon happens more often than we think.  People often say “It’s never happened to me”,  but how do they know that?  Imagine, for example, that you have seen your own death in a childhood dream.  You were not struck by it at the time.  How could you have guessed that this old man or woman who is dying, was yourself seventy years later?

Doctor Richet says:  “Most of our dreams have a documentary value that we don’t even suspect.”

***

All premonitory dreams unfortunately do not have the precision of that of Mr Berard.  But they still remain troubling, even when they need to be interpreted.  Here are a few examples:

On 29 July 1589, Henri III dreams that the royal ornaments:  crown, tunics, blue satin mantel, sceptre and Hand of Justice, all bloody, are trampled by monks.  Three days later, on 1 August, he is assassinated by the monk Jacques Clement.

In the night of 13 to 14 May 1610, Henri IV dreams that he sees a rainbow over his head.  When he wakes, he talks about it to those around him.  Someone says that it is a very bad sign.  Throughout the ages, this dream has always meant violent death.  The King was advised not to leave the palace that day…

Henri IV shrugs his shoulders and, at ten minutes past four, he passes through the Rue de la Ferronnerie where he is assassinated by Ravaillac…

In the night of 17 to 18 June 1815, Napoleon dreams that a black cat twice runs from one army to the other, and sees his regiments torn to pieces.  He wakes, panting, thinking that this dream announces treason and defeat.  A few hours later, the Grand Army is annihilated in the plain of Waterloo…

In April 1865, a few days before being assassinated, Abraham Lincoln tells his wife and one of his friends about a dream that he had had.  He is walking through all of the rooms of the White House without meeting anyone;  but while walking, he can hear the sound of sobbing.  When he penetrates the East Room, he sees a great gathering, in mourning.  At the centre of the room there is a catafalque, on which reposes a dead person in ceremonial costume.   Soldiers are mounting guard around it.  He approaches and asks who, in the White House, has died.  One of the soldiers tells him that it is the President, who has been assassinated.  Then, he hears the crowd moan, which wakes him.  He doesn’t sleep any more that night.  He knows that it is only a dream, but the vision obsesses him.

Three days later, The President is shot by Booth…

To be continued.

Michel de Nostre-Dame, known as Nostradamus, painted by his son Cesar.

In 1556, a Salon-de-Provence doctor, Michel de Nostre-Dame, known as Nostradamus, who has just published a very strange book entitled Centuries et Propheties de Nostradamus, is received by Monsieur de Florinville in his castle at Fains, in Lorraine.  Mr de Florinville is a headstrong man who does not believe in either clairvoyants or prophets.  In inviting the Salon doctor to his home, he has a hidden motive.  He wants to play a trick on him.

He begins by asking Nostradamus if he would be able to predict the future of people of a different race to their own.  Nostradamus replies in the affirmative.  Mr de Florinville clarifies his question by saying that he means animals…  Nostradamus tells him that he had already understood that.  Mr de Florinville clarifies further by asking if this would include the lowliest of animals.  Nostradamus again acquiesces.  Mr de Florinville begins to laugh and starts to tell him that the animals in question are… and Nostradamus finishes his sentence by “two suckling pigs”.

Mr de Florinville stops laughing and asks the prophet how he knows.  Nostradamus does not reply and merely asks to be taken to the animals…

Mr de Florinville, accompanied by a few friends, leads his guest to the pigsty where there are two suckling pigs, one pink and white, the other pink with black spots.  He asks Nostradamus to tell him the animals’ destinies.  Nostradamus does not hesitate.  He points to the white piglet and predicts that it will be eaten by a wolf.  The black one will be eaten by Mr de Florinville, himself.

Mr de Florinville leads Nostradamus back to his apartments, telling him that they will see if this prophecy comes true.  After which, to prevent it from coming true, he tells his cook to kill the white piglet and immediately prepare it to be eaten that evening.

Delighted with the prank that he is playing on Nostradamus, Mr de Florinville invites his guest to dinner.  The meal is succulent.  When the plates are empty, Mr de Florinville turns to Nostradamus and asks him if he knows what he has just eaten.  The Salon doctor replies that it was suckling pig…  Mr de Florinville is very pleased with himself.  He says:

“Yes, Sir!  And precisely the one that – according to you – was supposed to be eaten by a wolf!…  See how easy it is to make prophecies lie…  Fortunately, in our enlightened century, these charlatan stupidities can only abuse children, old women or uneducated people.  My friends, let us drink to Reason!…”

Everyone applauds and they drink.  Nostradamus, who has listened to Mr de Florinville’s speech without displaying any signs of impatience or the least irritation, turns to his host and asks him if he could see the black piglet.  And all of the table companions go to the pigsty, where a surprise awaits them:  there is no black piglet…

Mr de Florinville calls his cook and asks him where the black piglet is.  The cook lowers his head and explains that, having killed the white piglet to prepare it for dinner, he was greasing a dish when a young, partly-tame wolf cub, to which the servants sometimes gave a piece of meat, entered the kitchen, jumped onto the table and ate the animal…  So, he killed the black piglet and that was the one that they had eaten that evening.

Notradamus simply remarked:

“There are many more marvels under the stars than are believed…”

***

Nostradamus was born in 1503, at Saint-Remy-de-Provence, into a Jewish family which had converted to Catholicism, and was called, in reality, Michel de Nostre-Dame.  After serious medical studies at the Faculty of Montpellier where he had, by the way, Rabelais as a fellow student, he travelled around France, Germany and Italy, before settling, as a doctor, in Salon-de-Provence.

***

He treated his patients exclusively with plants that he gathered himself, on nights of full moon, in the mountains of Provence.

***

In Salon, he had had an observatory made which permitted him to study the stars and to do astrological themes.  But his gift of clairvoyancy was known for a long time before he wrote the Centuries.  He helped people find lost animals, he discovered water sources and predicted very exactly the future of the inhabitants of Salon…  From that to the destiny of the world, was only a step, which he took around 1550 and published, in 1556, his famous prophecies which immediately had an immense success.

***

Nostradamus announced Louis XVI's arrest at Varennes, two hundred and thirty-five years before it happened.

This success is surprising because the prophecies are written in a complicated fashion and, except for a few, are not understood until after they have happened.  For example, in the XVIth Century, what could be meant by two quatrains concerning an event situated at Varennes, involving a certain “Cap”, and a return to the Thuille (the Tuileries) caused by someone called “Saulce”?…  Nothing!  But, in 1791, it is at Varennes that Louis XVI, known as Capet, is arrested by the grocer Sauce, who has him brought back to the Tuileries.

In the XVIth Century, Nostradamus announced the fourteen years of Napoleon's reign.

Another example:  three quatrains are consecrated to an “emperor who will be born near Italy, who will be found to be less prince than butcher”…  Nostradamus gives a precision:  “From simple soldier will come to an empire, from short tunic will come to long”;  and he adds:  “The shaven head, for fourteen years, will hold the tyranny”…  Who could have guessed that this is the story, resumed in fulgurant fashion, of the ascension of Napoleon, known as “Little Baldy”, and his fourteen years of rule?

***

As for the story of the white and the black piglets, Mr de Florinville recounts it in his Memoires.  He concludes “that one cannot make a prophecy lie, as it is impossible to modify a being’s destiny, even if it is a suckling pig”

To be continued.

Napoleon Bonaparte, surrounded by Jupiter's lightning bolts

In 1550, the doctor and astrologist, Nostradamus, writes in his Centuries, verses consecrated

“to an emperor who will be born near Italy and will be found to be less prince than butcher”

This is a clear allusion to the three million men killed by Napoleon.  [In fact, it has been said that, taken as a percentage of the Earth’s population in his lifetime, Napoleon killed more people than Hitler.]

Nostradamus adds:

“From simple soldier will arrive at empire, from short tunic will arrive at long.”

Also:

“With shaven head, for fourteen years will hold the tyranny…”

This is the concise story of Napoleon’s ascension (his soldiers nicknamed him “little baldy”) and the fourteen years of his reign, from Consulate (1st November 1799) to Waterloo (June 1815)…  The prodigious destiny of Napoleon I was therefore “seen” in its main lines by two men, more than two hundred years before his birth…

It is only in 1804, after his Coronation, that he first saw Maitre Olivarius’ book.  He flicked through a few pages.

Six years later, in 1810, after his marriage to Marie-Louise, he read the prediction attentively.  He called a theologian from Saint-Sulpice and asked him if religion obliged people to believe in prophecies.  The abbot told him:

“God’s spirit has always spoken through prophets, Sire…”

***

Olivarius’ book was discovered in 1793.  Francois de Metz, General Secretary of the Commune de Paris, who was sorting through books from the pillage of royal and monasterial libraries, was drawn to a little in-twelve, entitled Livre de Propheties compose par Philippe-Noel Olivarius, docteur en medecine, chirurgien et astrologue.  The last page bore the date 1542 in XVIth Century figures.  Francois de Metz read it all, but didn’t understand its meaning.  However, this work so intrigued him that he made several copies, keeping the original for himself.  It fell into Napoleon’s hands in 1804.

***

Like many Corsicans, Napoleon had been brought up with stories of ghosts, vampires and wildfire.  His nurse, Ilari, made incantations over him against demons.  He interpreted his dreams.  He believed in omens and talismans.  He constantly wore a little black satin heart between his flannel waistcoat and his shirt.  He also carried, in the pocket of his waistcoat, a scarab that he had found in a Pharaoh’s tomb…

***

Before going into battle, Napoleon signed himself twice for luck.  He also changed the date of his coup d’Etat against the Five-Hundred, because the first date, 17 brumaire, was a Friday.

***

One day, Napoleon silenced a mocker by saying:

“Only fools defy the unknown!”

He avoided surrounding himself with unlucky people.  He always asked, when any applicant for a post was presented to him:

“Is he lucky?”

If the poor man did not seem to have succeeded in life, he was immediately refused.  Napoleon would say:

“I don’t want him.  His star is bad!”

On the other hand, one person who appeared lucky to him, was Josephine.  This was why he hesitated about repudiating her.

***

He firmly believed that

“Premonitions are the eyes of the soul.”

He also believed in dreams, predictions and the beneficial power of the amethyst.  He often said that, without the premonition of his future glory, he would never have had the audacity to attempt his coup d’Etat.  And this was fortified by the fact that an old woman had predicted to Josephine, as a child in Martinique, that she would be “more than queen”…

***

One day, during the Italian campaign, the glass protecting a miniature of Josephine broke.  Napoleon said to his aide de camp:

“Marmont, my wife is ill or unfaithful…”

She was in good health.

***

The day of his Coronation, when the carriage carrying himself and Josephine passed under the porch of the Tuileries, the eagle on its top broke off and fell to the ground.  When he heard about it, Napoleon closed his eyes and his complexion became “wax-like”.

The day he met Marie-Louise for the first time, he had to walk to the village in the rain, because a wheel had broken on his carriage.  He was white, and everyone understood that he saw this as a bad omen…

In 1812, during the Russian campaign, while on reconnaissance along the Niemen, his horse, startled by a hare, swerved and Napoleon, who was not a good rider, fell.  Without saying a word, he remounted.  He was frighteningly pale.   His entourage knew that he saw it as a bad omen.  A few minutes later, he said to them:

“You all thought like me, didn’t you?”

Napoleon believed in his lucky star, which he invoked whenever he was in danger, or at the beginning of a battle, and which he had added to all of his popular images…  He often alluded to it.  When he learned of the collusion of Moreau and Pichegru, he exclaimed:

“What stupidity!  Moreau knows that I have my star!…”

Which doesn’t stop him from signing himself twice in front of the astounded Police Prefect…

Another day, Cardinal Fesch tried to make a few remarks about the Spanish war.  Napoleon led him to a window, and asked him if he saw the star.  It was midday, and the cardinal said that he didn’t.  Napoleon told him:

“Well, as long as I am the only one to see it, all will be well, and I will not suffer any remarks from anyone…”

He was obsessed by this star, to the point of making it a motif of decoration for the imperial furniture.  He even wanted to use it for the emblem of the Legion d’Honneur, which explains its original name of “l’ordre de l’Etoile”.

***

He liked ghost stories, and told them at Malmaison.  He had all of the candles blown out, sat near the fire, and launched into stories peopled with ghosts, which made the Court ladies shiver.  But if anyone smiled, he became angry:

“You mustn’t laugh at these stories.  They contain more truth than a lot of scholarly books!”

***

He also talked about the Tuileries’ Little Red Man.  This is a legendary character who appeared since the time of Catherine de Medicis, every time that an important event – usually bad – was going to happen to one of the principal inhabitants of the Tuileries.  It was said that Henri IV saw him on the morning of the day that Ravaillac assassinated him, that Anne d’Autriche bumped into him a few days before the Fronde erupted, and that Marie-Antoinette saw him in the corridor the day before the 10 August 1792…  It was also said that this Little Red Man appeared for the first time to Napoleon, not at the Tuileries, but in Egypt, and had offered his protection to him via a mysterious pact.  Legend has it that the Emperor saw him again in 1814, before the abdication…

***

Napoleon’s premonitions were at fault only once.  After Waterloo, on the Isle of Aix, before Rochefort, he was hesitating between flight to America or surrendering to the English.  A bird entered through the window.  Gourgaud caught it and said that it was a sign of happiness.  Napoleon told him to set it free so that he could see the augures…

The bird flew towards the English fleet.  That same evening, Napoleon sent negotiators to the Bellerophon, the boat which was to transport him to Sainte-Helene…

His lucky star had disappeared…

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