Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Madame de Genlis and Napoleon

From Shannon Selin:
In 1802, Napoleon provided Madame de Genlis with an apartment in the Arsenal Library. After becoming Emperor in 1804, he granted her a pension of 6,000 francs a year. In return, Napoleon required that Madame de Genlis write him regular letters. Some thought this was a pretext for her to act as Napoleon’s spy among partisans of the ancien régime. French Foreign Minister Talleyrand (not always a reliable source) recounted how, on the evening of the Battle of Austerlitz, he read to Napoleon the “report” of Madame de Genlis.
It was long, and written entirely in her own hand. She spoke of the spirit of Paris, and quoted a few offensive conversations held, she said, in those houses which were then called Faubourg Saint-Germain; she named five or six families, which, never, she added, would rally to the government of the emperor. Some rather biting expressions which Mme. de Genlis reported set Napoleon in an inconceivable state of fury; he swore and stormed against the Faubourg Saint-Germain. (3)
However, according to Napoleon’s private secretary Baron Méneval, the letters were simply intended to make Madame de Genlis feel that she was not living on imperial charity. (Read more.)

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