Napoleon was imprisoned and then exiled to the island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean, 2,000 km from any major landmass. He arrived on October 15, 1815. In his first two months there, he lived in a pavilion on the Briars estate, which belonged to a William Balcombe. Napoleon became friendly with his family, especially his younger daughter Lucia Elizabeth who later wrote Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon. This friendship ended in 1818 when British authorities became suspicious that Balcombe had acted as an intermediary between Napoleon and Paris, and dismissed him from the island.
Napoleon moved to Longwood House in December 1815; it had fallen into disrepair, and the location was damp, windswept and unhealthy. The Times published articles insinuating that the British government was trying to hasten his death and he often complained of the living conditions in letters to the governor and his custodian, Hudson Lowe. With a small cadre of followers, Napoleon dictated his memoirs and criticised his captors—particularly Lowe. Lowe's treatment of Napoleon is regarded as poor by historians such as Frank McLynn. Lowe exacerbated a difficult situation through measures including a reduction in Napoleon's expenditure, a rule that no gifts could be delivered to him if they mentioned his imperial status, and a document that his supporters had to sign that guaranteed they would stay with the prisoner indefinitely.
In 1818, The Times reported a false rumour of Napoleon's escape and said the news had been greeted by spontaneous illuminations in London. There was sympathy for him in the British Parliament: Lord Holland gave a speech which demanded the prisoner be treated with no unnecessary harshness. Napoleon kept himself informed of the events through The Times and hoped for release in the event that Holland became Prime Minister. He also enjoyed the support of Lord Cochrane, who was involved in Chile's and Brazil's struggle for independence and wanted to rescue Napoleon and help him set-up a new empire in South America, a scheme frustrated by Napoleon's death in 1821. There were other plots to rescue Napoleon from captivity including one from Texas, where exiled soldiers from the Grande Armée wanted a resurrection of the Napoleonic Empire in America. There was even a plan to rescue him with a primitive submarine. For Lord Byron, Napoleon was the epitome of the Romantic hero, the persecuted, lonely and flawed genius. The news that Napoleon had taken up gardening at Longwood also appealed to more domestic British sensibilities.
In February 1821, his health began to fail rapidly and on 3 May, two British physicians who had recently arrived, attended him and could only recommend palliatives. He died two days later, after confession, Extreme Unction and Viaticum at the hands of Father Ange Vignali. His last words were, "France, armée, tête d'armée, Joséphine."("France, army, head of the army, Joséphine.") Napoleon's original death mask was created around 6 May, though it is not clear which doctor created it. In his will, he had asked to be buried on the banks of the Seine, but the British governor said he should be buried on St. Helena, in the Valley of the Willows. Hudson Lowe insisted the inscription should read 'Napoleon Bonaparte', Montholon and Bertrand wanted the Imperial title 'Napoleon' as royalty were signed by their first names only. As a result the tomb was left nameless.
In 1840, Louis-Philippe, King of the French obtained permission from the British to return Napoleon's remains to France. The remains were transported aboard the frigate Belle-Poule, which had been painted black for the occasion and on 29 November she arrived in Cherbourg. The remains were transferred to the steamship Normandie, which transported them to Le Havre, up the Seine to Rouen and on to Paris. On 15 December, a state funeral was held. The hearse proceeded from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Élysées, across the Place de la Concorde to the Esplanade des Invalides and then to the cupola in St Jérôme's Chapel, where it stayed until the tomb designed by Louis Visconti, was completed. In 1861, Napoleon's remains were entombed in a porphyry sarcophagus in the crypt under the dome at Les Invalides.
Cause of death
Napoleon's physician, Francesco Antommarchi, led the autopsy which found the cause of death to be stomach cancer, though he did not sign the official report, stating, "What had I to do with... English reports?" Napoleon's father had died of stomach cancer though this was seemingly unknown at the time of the autopsy.Antommarchi found evidence of a stomach ulcer and it was the most convenient explanation for the British who wanted to avoid criticism over their care of the Emperor.
In 1955, the diaries of Napoleon's valet, Louis Marchand, appeared in print. His description of Napoleon in the months before his death led Sten Forshufvud to put forward other causes for his death, including deliberate arsenic poisoning, in a 1961 paper in Nature. Arsenic was used as a poison during the era because it was undetectable when administered over a long period. Forshufvud, in a 1978 book with Ben Weider, noted the emperor's body was found to be remarkably well-preserved when moved in 1840. Arsenic is a strong preservative and therefore this supported the poisoning hypothesis. Forshufvud and Weider observed that Napoleon had attempted to quench abnormal thirst by drinking high levels of orgeat syrup that contained cyanide compounds in the almonds used for flavouring. They maintained that the potassium tartrate used in his treatment prevented his stomach from expellation of these compounds and that the thirst was a symptom of poisoning. Their hypothesis was that the calomel given to Napoleon became an overdose, which killed him and left behind extensive tissue damage. A 2007 article stated that the type of arsenic found in Napoleon's hair shafts was mineral type, the most toxic, and according to toxicologist Dr Patrick Kintz, this supported the conclusion that his death was murder.
The wallpaper used in Longwood contained a high level of arsenic compound used for colouring by British manufacturers. The adhesive, which in the cooler British environment was innocuous, may have grown mold in the more humid climate and emitted the poisonous gas arsine. This theory has been ruled out as it does not explain the arsenic absorption patterns found in other analyses. A 2004 group of researchers claimed treatments imposed on the emperor accidentally caused death by Torsades de pointes—a condition where the heart ceases to function properly.
Image & Text:wikipedia.com