PARIS – Jacques Chirac can’t stand him, Nicolas Sarkozy keeps his distance, François Hollande disgusted him, but on the 200th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s death this week, Emmanuel Mak Rong chose to do what France’s last president avoided: Honor the man who destroyed the newly born French Republic in 1799.
With a selection of wreaths placed on Wednesday at Napoleon’s cemetery under Les Invalides’ golden domes, Mr Macron is stepping into the heart of the French war of culture. Napoleon, who has always been a contested figure, has become the quiz of Rorschach for the French in a time of tense cultural confrontation.
Was Napoleon a modern reformer with the Liese School System Code, the Central Bank and a centralized administrative framework as the basis for post-revolutionary France? Or is he a retrograde, imperialist class, and a misogynist?
Paying homage to Napoleon, Mr Macron would allow the peaceful French right to dream of his lost glory and at one point under the turbulent French emperor stood at the center of the world. France’s fascination with the romantic epic of Napoleon’s rise and fall is endless as the covers of countless magazines and talk shows have been hammered in recent weeks.
But in today’s psychic, Napoleon’s decisive role as the founder of the modern French state tends to pale alongside his record as a warm colonialist and slave. Mr. Macron is at risk. Officials close to him have shown his planned remarks trying to look at Napoleon “in front of” light and shadow, however others insist that Napoleon should be condemned instead of a memorial.
“How can we celebrate a man who was the enemy of the French Republic of many European peoples and also the enemy of mankind to whom he enslaved,” wrote writer and activist Louis-Georges Tin and political scientist Olivier Le Cour Grandmaison. Last month in Le Monde
They argue that Les Invalides should be converted into a museum of the Five Republics of France, and the remains of Napoleon, like Franco in Spain, will be returned to his family. The corpse has traveled a long way. It took them 19 years to reach France in 1840 after Napoleon’s lonely death at the age of 51 in British-forced exile on the southern Atlantic island of Saint Helena.
“Yes, the head of state, the commander in chief must bow down at the tomb of the Victorlitz victors,” wrote Jean d’Orléans of the French monarchy in Le Figaro, referring to soldiers who One of Napoleon’s greatest victories, honoring Napoleon, was to “honor the French and honor himself.”
But this brilliant general who fought to free Europe from the feudal chain of the monarchy also restored slavery by a French Caribbean decree in 1802 after its abolition after the 1794 revolution.
The revolt in Guadeloupe and the then French colony of Saint-Domingue, now Haiti and the Dominican Republic, have been mercilessly suppressed. Haiti won its independence in 1804 and abolished slavery.France, the only country that ended and reinstated slavery, did not abolish slavery until 1967. Fri 2391
This history tends to be overshadowed by the magnetism of the Bonapartist saga. Now, like Jefferson’s slave ownership in the United States or Churchill’s commentary last year for his views on modern racial hierarchy, there is a new focus.
Claude Ribbe, whose book “Napoleon’s Crimes” caused a stir when it was published in 2005 for descriptions of French atrocities in the Caribbean, said: “We can remember him. But never celebrated him for his shadow of racism. It still feels like in France today. ”
This view is popular to some extent, as France has started its trial with the support of its former colonial master Macron, especially in Algeria, and a heated debate has begun to say. Is the universal model mask color blind in the country widespread or not?
Josette Borel-Lincertin The socialist president of the department council in Guadeloupe told Le Monde that her community would not join in honoring Napoleon, which all Guadeloupians knew slavery was created. “We can only emit an echo of our pain from this side,” she said.
Such an echo in mainland France may seem faint. Napoleon’s fascination seemed more powerful than ever, as if in a time of uncertainty caused by the epidemic, he gathered everything that France felt was lost. Napoleon’s life is still a parable for many, including Mr. Macron, of acts of nation and grandeur – flawed, undoubtedly, violent without question. But it’s a change
This 20-year-old general, “Robespierre on Horse”, carries messages against the 1789 revolution across Europe, the martial mastermind Marengo and Austerlitz demonstrated the courage and genius of the French. France, which now has to meet with itself. Is medium energy
Says writer Pascal Bruckner, “Why is the passion? Because with Napoleon the Quail Gallic became the imperial eagle. Now it’s just a tired old hen on the bell tower. ”
Éric Zemmour, author of “The French Suicide,” identifies Napoleon’s correct perspective. Mr. Zemmour likes to recall how Europe spent all the time defeating Napoleon in 1815. In 1940 Nazi Germany crushed. France in three weeks Today, he argues that the country has problems even controlling its borders.
Here’s a caricature of France’s decadence laid behind a letter from 20 retired generals last month explaining that France was in a “shattered” state and warned of a potential coup. Right-wing leader Marine Le Pan, who is Macron’s strongest challenger in next year’s presidential election, applauded.
This is the delicate context of Mr Macron’s tribute to the man who took power in the May 9 coup.He will mark the European Day, a celebration of European unity at Napoleon. The degree of slaughter is down, perhaps for the best by Goya’s portrayal of the execution of “El Tres de mayo.” On May 10, Mr Macron will commemorate the 2001 law that acknowledged the existence of slavery. Is a crime against humanity
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said: “To commemorate it is to open your eyes on our history and look straight ahead. Even with regards to today’s questionable choice. “
Macron’s choices were both political and personal. His main challenge was from the right, so placing a wreath at Napoleon’s grave was also a way of countering Miss Le Pan. But his fascination with Napoleon – like him, a provincial young man who rose to power from anywhere on a mission to rebuild France and transform Europe – has long been evident. And then in his recurring theme song about France’s need for “New Ambition and Courage”
“Macron is Rastignac,” said political scientist Nicole Bacharan, alluding to the hero of the novel Balzac who conquered Paris with his charm and cunning, “and in Napoleon’s literature, politics, military strategy, and wisdom he found a source of inspiration.” In fact, France is “The center of the world, for better or for worse”
Macron took former President Donald Trump to Napoleon’s crypt in 2017 – the French president tended to avoid joining foreign leaders there because Hitler paid his respects. Against Napoleon at Les Invalides in 1940, if this was a history lesson, it had mixed results. “Napoleon ended up a little bit bad,” said Trump’s conclusion.
The president born after the trauma of Algeria’s War of Independence, Macron, wants to face a difficult history because he believes openness is healing. This commitment has sparked much-needed debate, even within his own government.
Elisabeth Moreno, Minister of Equality in France, called Napoleon a “great hating religion.” The long-revised Napoleon Code said: “A woman must obey. Husband ”was not an unusual view at the time.
François-René de Chateaubriand A 19th-century French writer and diplomat noted Napoleon: “By living him it failed the world. Dead, he has overcome it. ”Something in his unusual orbit, from the glory of the empire to the windswept island of his death, will not let the French imagination. The reason may be Napoleon’s rare realism, as illustrated in St. Helena to his secretary Emmanuel de las Cases.
“The revolution is one of the greatest ailments that heaven can afflict on the world,” Napoleon told his assistants. “It was the calamity of the generations that made it; Any gain could not make up for the suffering that spread throughout life. Upset the poor It makes the rich poor that they will never be forgotten. It turns things over, making everyone unhappy and providing happiness to no one. “
For Napoleon, for all mankind, it proved impossible to escape the moment in which he lived.