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Another French Exception?

photo: looking down from rue junot

No matter where you look, it's up or down on Montmartre.

Exceptional Napoléon

Email from Jim Auman. Sent via the Internet on Monday, 6. October:-

Bonjour Ric!

In your article 'Looping the Rue Lepic' you wrote:

"The story, according to Priscilla Bain-Smith, the author of 'Van Gogh Walks... Paris,' is that Napoléon couldn't force his horse up the Rue Ravignan to get to the telegraph station in the church Saint-Pierre de Montmartre one day in 1809. The curé suggested be build a more gentle route."

The telegraph wasn't invented until 1837, almost thirty years later. The only way to use something that hasn't yet been invented is through time travel. Is jumping around in time and not following it sequentially - or linearly - another French exception?

However, there are some alternatives -

1. Napoleon's horse showed good judgment in not wanting to climb the hill. The painting by David of Napoleon photo: resto rue lepic crossing the Alps mounted on a white charger on his way to Italy is inspiring but historically inaccurate. Napoleon crossed the Alps on a mule which is far more sure-footed in such terrain than a horse but far less inspiring.

A Rue Lepic restaurant.

2. The French are less enslaved to the clock than are the Nordic-Germanic- Anglo-Saxon countries. Napoleon could have waited a few years for the telegraph to be invented. However, he died in 1821, sixteen years before its invention. But, if he were looping through time before his death - as Ed 'looped' through the Rue Lepic, this is a possibility.

3. According to the latest French 'thought,' reality occurs only if an event is recorded on TV. Since TV didn't exist then, Napoleon didn't go up the hill to an invention that didn't exist. End of discussion.

5. Number four will happen later, in accordance with French non-linear thinking.

A la prochaine,

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Exceptional Napoléon

Bonjour Jim and all other eagle-eyed readers -

Paris, Monday, 6. October:- Although it seemed to be my article about the Rue Lepic, in reality it was a loopy book review and I had no control of the 'facts' contained in it.

While writing the review, I certainly wondered why Napoléon would go all the way to the church at the top of Montmartre to send a telegram. He could have gone to the main post office in the Rue du Louvre, which used to be open Saturday afternoons.

Another thought occurred to me too. Napoléon wasn't the biggest guy in the world, but he was a big-time general, as well as being the Emperor of the French, in 1809 no less. He had a lot of big army horses to choose from for riding up Montmartre.

This little adventure might have had something to do with Napoléon's decision to divorce Josaphine. He arrived at Fontainebleau from Vienna on Friday, 20. October 1809 and when Josaphine reached the château in the evening she found the doorway between their bedrooms bricked up.

Josaphine moved to Malmaison. Napoléon did not ask the Pope's permission to divorce Josaphine because he photo: rinaldi, rue lepic had been excommunicated on Sunday, 11. June 1809. This happened because he abolished the Pope's temporal power on Wednesday, 17. May of the same year.

The lower end of the Rue Lepic is in another state of mind.

Napoléon had the Pope arrested on Thursday, 6. July on account of being excommunicated, which he tried to keep secret - so the Vatican could be moved to Paris. Rome was annexed to the French Empire on Saturday, 17. February 1810. The imprisoned Pope Pius VII was even more peeved when Napoléon ordered his pencils and official seal seized.

Napoléon later explained that it was all part of a vast plan to create the European Union - a scheme he concocted to prevent European countries from having 'civil' wars between themselves. At the time of Napoléon's power, many European countries were more worried about getting 'annexed' by France.

Whatever the reason, Napoléon probably wished that the telegraph had been invented in 1809. Then he wouldn't have had to ride up steep Montmartre to use its semaphore.
signature, regards, ric

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