Emmanuel, comte de Las Cases

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Statue of Emmanuel, comte de Las Cases in Lavaur, Tarn FR-81140 statlascases01.jpg
Statue of Emmanuel, comte de Las Cases in Lavaur, Tarn

Emmanuel-Augustin-Dieudonné-Joseph, comte de Las Cases (21 June 1766 – 15 May 1842) was a French atlas-maker and author, famed for an admiring book about Napoleon, Le Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène ("The Memorial of Saint Helena").

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

The Memorial of Saint Helena, written by Emmanuel-Auguste-Dieudonné Las Cases, is a journal-memoir of the beginning of Napoleon Bonaparte's exile on Saint Helena. The core of the work transcribes Las Cases' near-daily conversations with the former Emperor on his life, his career, his political philosophy, and the conditions of his exile. First published in 1823 after Napoleon's death, the work was an immediate and continuing literary success, receiving multiple translations and appearing in new editions throughout the 19th century and into the 20th. The work entered the popular imagination as something like Napoleon's own personal and political testament, and as such became a founding text in the development of the Napoleon cult and the ideology of Bonapartism.


Life and career

He was born at the castle of Las Cases near Revel in Languedoc. He was educated at the military schools of Vendôme and Paris. He entered the navy and took part in various engagements during the years 1781–1782. The outbreak of the Revolution in 1789 caused him to go into exile. He spent some years in Germany and England, participating in the disastrous Quiberon expedition (1795). He was one of the few survivors and returned to London, where he lived in poverty, [1] until finding his vocation as a private tutor.

Revel, Haute-Garonne Commune in Occitanie, France

Revel is a commune in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern France.

Languedoc Place in France

Languedoc is a former province of France. Its territory is now contained in the modern-day region of Occitanie in the south of France. Its capital city was Toulouse. It had an area of approximately 27,376 square kilometers.

Vendôme Subprefecture and commune in Centre-Val de Loire, France

Vendôme is a subprefecture of the department of Loir-et-Cher, France. It is also the department's third biggest commune with 16,716 inhabitants (2015).

In 1801, in London and under the pseudonym, A. Lesage, he published in English the original edition of his famous atlas, which immediately proved a great success. Returning to Paris after the Peace of Amiens (1802), and having received amnesty, he issued the first French edition in 1803-1804, called Atlas historique, genealogique, chronologique et geographique de A. Lesage. Multiple editions, translations, spin-offs, several pirated, followed down to the 1850s. The atlas made Las Cases rich. It came to Napoleon's notice only when, in Las Cases's company, he went into exile on St Helena (1815). [1]

The Peace of Amiens (1802) made provision for an amnesty for émigrés. Renouncing his hereditary title of marquis, Las Cases availed himself of this amnesty to repatriate himself. He returned to France during the Consulate with other royalists who rallied to the side of Napoleon, and stated afterwards to the emperor that he was conquered by his glory. Not until 1810 did he receive much notice from Napoleon's government, which then made him a chamberlain and created him a count of the empire. After the first abdication of the emperor (April 11, 1814), Las Cases retired to England, but returned to serve Napoleon during the Hundred Days. [1]

French Consulate former government of France

The Consulate was the top level Government of France from the fall of the Directory in the coup of Brumaire on 10 November 1799 until the start of the Napoleonic Empire on 18 May 1804. By extension, the term The Consulate also refers to this period of French history.

Hundred Days period from Napoleons escape from Elba to the second restoration of King Louis XVIII

The Hundred Days marked the period between Napoleon's return from exile on the island of Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815. This period saw the War of the Seventh Coalition, and includes the Waterloo Campaign, the Neapolitan War as well as several other minor campaigns. The phrase les Cent Jours was first used by the prefect of Paris, Gaspard, comte de Chabrol, in his speech welcoming the king back to Paris on 8 July.

The second abdication opened up for Las Cases the most noteworthy part of his career. He withdrew with the ex-emperor and a few other trusty followers to Rochefort. It was Las Cases who first proposed and strongly urged the emperor to throw himself on the generosity of the British nation. Las Cases made the first overtures to Captain Maitland of HMS Bellerophon and received a guarded reply, the nature of which he afterwards misrepresented. [1]

Rochefort, Charente-Maritime Subprefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Rochefort is a commune in southwestern France, a port on the Charente estuary. It is a sub-prefecture of the Charente-Maritime department.

HMS <i>Bellerophon</i> (1786) Royal Navy ship of the line

HMS Bellerophon was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. Launched in 1786, she served during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, mostly on blockades or convoy escort duties. Known to sailors as the "Billy Ruffian", she fought in three fleet actions, the Glorious First of June, the Battle of the Nile and the Battle of Trafalgar, and was the ship aboard which Napoleon finally surrendered, ending 22 years of nearly continuous war with France.

Napoleon dictating to Count Las Cases the account of his campaigns Napoleon Las Casas.jpg
Napoleon dictating to Count Las Cases the account of his campaigns

Las Cases and his son accompanied the ex-emperor to Saint Helena. He then acted informally but very assiduously as his secretary, taking down numerous notes of his conversations, which thereafter took form in the famous Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène. The Mémorial should today be read with great caution, as the compiler did not hesitate to insert his own thoughts and to colour the expressions of his master. In some cases, he misstated facts and even fabricated documents. [1]

Saint Helena island in the South Atlantic Ocean

Saint Helena is a volcanic tropical island in the South Atlantic Ocean, 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi) east of Rio de Janeiro and 1,950 kilometres (1,210 mi) west of the mouth of the Cunene River, which marks the border between Namibia and Angola in southwestern Africa. It is part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. Saint Helena measures about 16 by 8 kilometres and has a population of 4,534. It was named after Saint Helena of Constantinople.

It is far less trustworthy than the record penned by Gaspard Gourgaud in his Journal. Disliked by Montholon and Gourgaud, Las Cases seems to have sought an opportunity to leave the island when he had accumulated sufficient literary material. However that may be, he infringed the British regulations in such a way as to lead to his expulsion by the governor, Sir Hudson Lowe (November 1816). He was sent first to the Cape of Good Hope and thence to Europe, but was not at first allowed by the government of Louis XVIII to enter France. He resided in Brussels. Having gained permission to come to Paris after the death of Napoleon, he took up residence there, published the Mémorial, and soon made a fortune from it. In 1840, when the expedition set sail for St Helena to bring back Napoleon's remains, he was too ill to go, but his son who had shared his captivity was able to go. Las Cases died in 1842 at Passy, [1] and is buried in Passy Cemetery.

See also


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