Longwood House

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Longwood was Napoleon's residence on Saint Helena from 1815 until his death six years later. Longwood House.jpg
Longwood was Napoleon’s residence on Saint Helena from 1815 until his death six years later.
Longwood House in 2008 Longwood House le 12 janvier 2008.jpg
Longwood House in 2008
Longwood House in September 2014 Longwood House (16311222817).jpg
Longwood House in September 2014

Longwood House is a mansion in St. Helena and the final residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, during his exile on the island of Saint Helena, from 10 December 1815 until his death on 5 May 1821. It lies on a windswept plain some 6 km (3.7 mi) from Jamestown.

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

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.

Jamestown, Saint Helena Place in United Kingdom

Jamestown is the capital of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, located on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is also the historic main settlement of the island and is on its north-western coast. It is the island's only port and the centre of the island's road and communications network. It was founded when colonists from the English East India Company settled on the island in 1659 and was briefly occupied by the Dutch East India Company in 1673 before being recaptured. Many of the buildings built by the East India Company in the 1700s survive and give the town its distinctive Georgian flavour.

Contents

History

Longwood "was originally a farm belonging to the East India Company and was afterwards given as a country residence to the Deputy-Governor." [1] It was converted for the use of Napoleon in 1815. The British government eventually recognised its inadequacy as a home for the former Emperor and his entourage and, by the time of his death, had built a new house for him nearby, which he never occupied. In February 1818, Governor Sir Hudson Lowe proposed to Lord Bathurst to move Napoleon to Rosemary Hall, a house that became available and was located in a more hospitable part of the island, sheltered from the winds and shaded, as Napoleon had preferred. [2] But the revelations of General Gourgaud in London brought Lord Bathurst to the opinion that it was safer to keep Napoleon at Longwood, where an escape was harder to undertake. The building of the new house only began in October 1818, three years after Napoleon's arrival on the island.

Hudson Lowe British Army general

Sir Hudson Lowe was an Anglo-Irish soldier and colonial administrator who is best known for his time as Governor of St Helena, where he was the "gaoler" of the Emperor Napoléon.

Henry Bathurst, 3rd Earl Bathurst British politician

Henry Bathurst, 3rd Earl Bathurst, was a High Tory, High Church Pittite from the end of the Second Empire. For thirty years an MP and whence ennobled one of the government's main stalwarts on Colonial policy. Not a good speaker in debates, he was nevertheless a competent administrator. If rather dull, he remained intensely loyal and at the centre of government for longer than all his contemporaries. A personal friend of William Pitt the Younger, he became a broker of deals across cabinet factions during the volatile Napoleonic era. After the Napoleonic Wars, Bathurst was on the 'conservative' wing of the Tory party. He came round towards arbitrating on a less than harsh colonial regime.

Gaspard Gourgaud French general

Gaspard, Baron Gourgaud, also known simply as Gaspard Gourgaud, was a French soldier, prominent in the Napoleonic wars.

After Napoleon's death

Following Napoleon's death, Longwood House reverted to the East India Company and later to the Crown, and was used for agricultural purposes. Reports of its neglect reached Napoleon III who, from 1854, negotiated with the British government for its transfer to France. In 1858 it was transferred to the French government, along with the Valley of the Tomb for a sum of £7,100. Since then they have been under the control of the French Foreign Ministry and a French government representative has lived on the island and has been responsible for managing both properties. In 1959 a third property, The Briars, where Napoleon spent the first two months while Longwood was being prepared, was given to the French government by Dame Mabel Brookes.

East India Company 16th through 19th-century British trading company

The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC) or the British East India Company and informally as John Company, Company Bahadur, or simply The Company, was an English and later British joint-stock company. It was formed to trade in the Indian Ocean region, initially with Mughal India and the East Indies, and later with Qing China. The company ended up seizing control over large parts of the Indian subcontinent, colonised parts of Southeast Asia, and colonised Hong Kong after a war with Qing China.

Napoleon III French emperor, president, and member of the House of Bonaparte

Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon I, was the first elected President of France from 1848 to 1852. When he could not constitutionally be re-elected, he seized power in 1851 and became the Emperor of the French from 1852 to 1870. He founded the Second French Empire and was its only emperor until the defeat of the French army and his capture by Prussia and its allies in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. He worked to modernize the French economy, rebuilt the center of Paris, expanded the overseas empire, and engaged in the Crimean War and the war for Italian unification. After his defeat and downfall he went into exile and died in England in 1873.

Briars, Saint Helena architectural structure

Briars is the name of the small pavilion in which Napoleon Bonaparte stayed for the first few weeks of his captivity on Saint Helena in late 1815. The pavilion was in the garden of William Balcombe, an English merchant who became a purveyor to Napoleon. His 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth Lucia ("Betsy") Balcombe was the only family member who spoke French and she became the family translator. Because of his family's closeness to Napoleon, Balcombe attracted the suspicion of Governor Hudson Lowe, and in 1818 he was forced to leave the island and return to England. The Briars was then used as the home for the Admiral assigned to St Helena.

As a result of the depredations of termites, in the 1940s the French government considered demolishing the building. New Longwood and the Balcombe's house at The Briars were both demolished at this time, but Longwood House was saved, and it has been restored by recent French curators. The stone steps at the front are the only part of the original fabric to survive.

In 2006 Michel Dancoisne-Martineau donated the heart-shaped waterfall valley to the Saint Helena National Trust. In 2008 he donated the land surrounding the pavilion at The Briars to the French republic.

The Saint Helena National Trust is an independent not-for-profit organization which aims to preserve Saint Helena's environmental and cultural heritage. It was founded on 22 May 2002, the 500th anniversary of Saint Helena's discovery. The Patron of the Trust is HRH The Duke of York.

Longwood House is now a museum owned by the French government. It is one of two museums on the island, the other being the Museum of Saint Helena. [3]

The Museum of Saint Helena is a museum on the island of Saint Helena, a British Overseas Territory in the south Atlantic Ocean.

See also

French domains of St Helena

The French domains of Saint-Helena are an estate of 14 hectares in three separate parts owned by France on the British island of Saint Helena. Three French properties are under the administration of the French Foreign Ministry which undertakes their management and maintenance. These consist of :

Longwood, Saint Helena Place in United Kingdom

Longwood is a settlement and a district of the British island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic.

Further reading

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<i>War. The Exile and the Rock Limpet</i> painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner

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References

  1. Wiliam Hazlitt, Life of Napoleon, volume 6 p.13. Grolier edition.
  2. Albert Benhamou, L'autre Sainte-Hélène: la captivité, la maladie, la mort, et les médecins autour de Napoléon, 2010, p.138, extract from the Lowe Papers
  3. St Helena — The Island in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Coordinates: 15°57′0.47″S5°40′59.06″W / 15.9501306°S 5.6830722°W / -15.9501306; -5.6830722