Famous Exhumations French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte
About the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and history of his exhumation.
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1769-1821), emperor of France
On the island of St. Helena, 1,200 mi. off the southwestern coast of Africa, the banished Napoleon spent his last years. He died of cancer and was buried on the island.
In France, the dreams of empire lived on in the breast of his ambitious nephew, Louis Napoleon, who pressured King Louis Philippe to have the emperor's body retrieved. The king granted the request in 1840, and a ship was dispatched to bring the emperor home.
At St. Helena the coffin was opened and a French physician, Dr. Guillard, was allowed to examine the remains for two minutes. It was not enough time for a thorough examination, but all present were struck with the fact that after nearly 20 years, the emperor was almost perfectly preserved. "The features of the Emperor were so little changed that his face was instantly recognized by those who had known him when alive," Guillard reported. "His entire person presented the appearance of one recently interred." Napoleon's beard and nails had grown after death, his face was puffy, and the skin was "soft and supple." His heart and entrails were preserved in two silver vessels in the coffin. It was the doctor's conclusion that the tropical climate had mummified the emperor.
Napoleon's body was brought to France and given a lavish burial in the Invalides in Paris. His grand return politically benefited Louis Napoleon, who became Napoleon III in 1852.
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