Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Des idées napoléoniennes

Long weekend of running about doing things. Bought shoes, a coat and trinkets for the Doctor's imminent birthday. Caught up with various chums I've not seen in ages. Seen some top telly pilots, been to a wedding, to Whitstable and the dentist, and for curry. Done various bits of writing and reading, too, which I'll talk about another time. And approved two covers for things what I've written, which will turn up on the Internet soonish.

Napoloeon III (1808-1873) was a rum sort of fellow, and probably the most interesting bit of my History A-level. A couple of fun things about him turned up in a book I read earlier this summer. For one thing, he inspired the classic Tube map:
"Napoleon's anxious draftmanship indirectly benefitted London, repaying the city's hospitality to him. When he finally presented the Prefect of Paris, Baron Hausmann, with plans for redesigning the French capital, the main thoroughfares were highlighted in primary colours, in red, yellow and green, according to their importance. This unheard-of finishing touch was taken up by later planners and designers, most notably the Mondrian of the Tube, Harry Beck."

Stephen Smith, "Underground London: Travels beneath the city streets", p. 204.

And then there's this:
"[Napoloeon] spent two years in London, from 1838 to 1840. This was at the time of the Chartist riot, when the movement for universal suffrage which had begun in provincial England culminated in disorder and panic in the capital. Louis Napoleon was sworn in as a special constable and paced a beat in the West End, in the company of the cook from the Atheneum."


So Napoleon III was on the same side as the Duke of Wellington - who'd been put in charge of London's fortifications against the seditious, democratic mob. Which is a bit weird - like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing both being on the same (baddie) side in Star Wars.

(Oh, and in checking Wikipedia for the link, I love what it says about his son: "The Zulus later claimed that they would not have killed him had they known who he was.")

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