Changing with the tide – how newspapers reported Napoleon’s march on Paris

I was doing a bit of research on some French related history and the following made me smile so I thought I would share it.

I don’t often write on French history (except for WW1 or my trips to Paris) because there are people who are so much more knowledgeable than myself.  However I thought I would make an exception for a week.

Following his near 10 month exile on the island of Elba, Napoleon was itching to get back to France as the peace treaty known as The Congress of Vienna threatened to bring war and back-stabbing amongst the continental European powers.  With many of his former army being released as prisoners by Great Britain and Prussia, Napoleon theorised that he would have a ready-made army ready to flock to his cause.

With the Royal Navy and French royalist guard ships temporarily diverted, Napoleon fled his island prison with just 1,000 men and during his long and largely peaceful march to Paris, his small band of men became an army.


Napoleon leaving Elba, painted by Joseph Beaume

The French newspapers which, in 1815, were subject to the censor, announced the departure of Bonaparte from Elba, his progress through France, and his entry into Paris in the following ever evolving manner:

— 9th March, the Anthropophagus has quitted his den

— 10th, the Corsican Ogre has landed at Cape Juan

— 11th, the Tiger has arrived at Gap

— 12th, the Monster slept at Grenoble

— 13th, the Tyrant has passed through Lyons

— 14th, the Usurper is directing his steps towards Dijon, but the brave and loyal Burgundians have risen en masse and surrounded him on all sides

— 18th, Bonaparte is only sixty leagues from the capital; he has been fortunate enough to escape the hands of his pursuers

— 19th, Bonaparte is advancing with rapid steps, but he will never enter Paris

— 20th, Napoleon will, tomorrow, be under our ramparts

— 21st, the Emperor is at Fontainbleau

— 22nd, His Imperial and Royal Majesty, yesterday evening, arrived at the Tuileries, amidst the joyful acclamations of his devoted and faithful subjects.

Similar reporting have happened through the years.  I remember winning a prize in a national newspaper nearly 20 years ago when I wrote a fake headline in the fashion of the Iraqi Information Minister who with the aid of several packets of cigarettes a day, put  up a splendid show of epic denial of Allied forces getting ever closer to Baghdad.




About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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3 Responses to Changing with the tide – how newspapers reported Napoleon’s march on Paris

  1. Francis says:

    Napoleon conferences soon at Lucca again this september …the city where his sister Elisa was appointed princess by her brother. When the emperor fell Elisa fled before the advancing English army who for several weeks in all but name annexed Italian Lucca as part of the British Empire.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. smhusain1 says:

    I think the combined British forces were held by the Turks with their German commander in this theatre, before Baghdad.

    Liked by 1 person

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