Tag Archive: Napoleon

By no stretch am I a military history buff, but it turned out that As You Wish wanted to be set during Napoleon Bonaparte’s Hundred Days comeback, so I did some background reading on it while writing. Here’s my brief summary for other laypeople:

In the early 19th century, the aristocracies of Europe were alarmed by France’s revolution and subsequent accumulation of “client republics” through the continent. Napoleon declared himself emperor, which didn’t jibe well with the spread of republican government but still didn’t endear him to the old powers. In 1812 he made some missteps, and they crushed him, exiling him to the island of Elba.

The major players in Europe then argued over how to divvy up the client republics, and Napoleon saw an opportunity to come back. His return to France spurred a popular uprising, and even some of Louis XVIII’s royalist regiments crossed over to his side. As You Wish takes place during this period, while Napoleon is gaining momentum. The family of English aristocrats with whom the heroine is staying in Kent is worried about an invasion, and her unexplained appearance (she’s actually from the future) makes them wonder if she could be a French spy.

Unfortunately for Napoleon, one thing the old powers did agree on was that they couldn’t put up with him. He knew they planned to invade France, so he struck at them first in Belgium. But it all went wrong at Waterloo, where Wellington trounced him. (Wellington, of course, went on to display a nude statue of Napoleon in his house, as noted in a previous blog post.)

Read more about Napoleon on Wikipedia here, or read the first couple chapters of As You Wish here.

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A few years ago, my husband and I toured Apsley House in London. The 18th century building (renovated in the 19th century) once belonged to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, famous for beating Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo (and for wearing waterproof boots).

Since I love Jane Austen and have set some of my books in Regency England, it was the perfect chance to see a real aristocratic home from the period. I’d also read a little about Napoleon while writing As You Wish. (Most of the story takes place during Bonaparte’s Hundred Days comeback after escaping Elba, and the heroine, who has time-traveled from today, is suspected of being a French spy.)

If you’re a Regency buff, the rich decor and antique furnishings at Apsley will interest you. The house also boasts 200 works of fine art, including paintings by Velázquez and Goya. But the most striking piece is the bigger-than-life nude statue of Napoleon smack in front of the curved staircase. I found it bizarre that Wellington had a giant nude Napoleon in his house. To me, that’s treatment for a hero or a deity, not an enemy. (Is it just me? Is it a guy thing?)

According to Wikipedia, the British government bought the statue from the Louvre, and the Prince Regent presented it to Wellington. Sculptor Antonio Canova originally made it for Napoleon, who found it “too athletic.”

Get info on visiting Apsley House here. As I write, adult admission is listed at £6; kids, £3.

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