During a special evening on the Le Figaro TV channel, Dominique Mougenot’s documentary devoted to Napoleon is broadcast just before “Parleme d’histoire”, by Guillaume Perrault, in the presence of historian Thierry Lentz. Not to be missed, this Monday, November 27 at 9 p.m.
More than two hundred years after his death, Napoleon is always in the news. The release of the latest film by British director Ridley Scott, dedicated to the Napoleonic epic, with Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, is proof of this. If opinions differ on this feature film, everyone agrees on the fact that Napoleon, with his qualities and his faults, still erts himself as a fascinating extraordinary historical figure. A sort of jewel of French heritage capable of still shining throughout the world today.
This is precisely what Dominique Mougenot’s two-part documentary shows. The first is offered this evening on the Le Figaro TV Île-de-France channel (the last will be on December 4), as part of a special evening which continues with “Talk to me about history”. To discuss in particular the links between the myth and the reality of the great man, Guillaume Perrault receives the historian of the Revolution and the Empire Thierry Lentz and the journalist from Figaro Histoire (1) Luc-Antoine Lenoir.
A dazzling destiny
To introduce the debate, the documentary recounts well, in all its brilliance, the destiny of this son of the Corsican minor nobility, born in Ajaccio on August 15, 1769. His childhood is enveloped by maternal love on an island of Beauty which was purchased by Louis XV from the Republic of Genoa a year before the birth of the future emperor. At the age of 9, Bonaparte was sent by his parents to the continent, to the military school of Brienne (in today’s Champagne-Ardenne region), which prepared the children of the poor nobility for a military career. Very quickly, the young boy stands out, shines in mathematics and becomes a great reader, which he will remain for the rest of his life. The ambitious man was only 16 years old when he received his first ignment as second lieutenant of artillery in the royal army and joined his regiment in Valencia.
Noticed by Robespierre
But it was the French Revolution which opened up the field of possibilities to the young officer in an extraordinary way. This while the Bonaparte family joined Republican France and physically left their island, at the same time, in 1793. This to the great dismay of the Corsican separatists led by Pascal Paoli. Under the Terror, Bonaparte was called to Toulon to fight the counter-revolutionaries. For the first time, he shows his talents as a strategist and achieves a resounding victory. Noticed in particular by Robespierre, he was then named brigadier general at the age of 24.
After the Thermidorian reaction and the execution of Robespierre on July 28, 1794, Bonaparte distinguished himself once the Directory was in place. It was he who directed operations in the face of the royalist insurrection of October 5, 1795. But it was during the Italian campaign that glory met him. The Napoleonic legend is in progress. Egyptian campaign, coup d’état of 18 Brumaire, proclamation of the Empire… Napoleon the conqueror, like Alexander the Great, seems to no longer be able to be stopped by anything or anyone. But his lucky star ends up abandoning him. After his victory at the Battle of Friedland, in 1807 and the signing of a peace treaty with Russia, during the Tilsit interview, several options presented themselves to the Emperor, including that of putting an end to the conquests . “But he will make the wrong choices, those which will lead to the expansion of the Empire », explains Thierry Lentz in “Talk to me about history”.
(1) To read: Le Figaro History. Napoleon, history and legend. Released November 30.