Napoleon's Lifestyle in Elba

The Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, during the 10 months of his exile in Elba, got up very early in the morning, had breakfast and then went back to bed again, had a bath, got dressed and then went for his usual horse ride. After returning from that, he was giving audience to those visitors appearing on the list prepared by Drouot or Bertrand.

Napoleon ate a simple meal at noon, often rich in vegetables and after lunch, he retired in his library reading mainly about agriculture and exploitation of mines.

In the afternoon, he spent much time immersed in a hot bathtub and later, between 4 and 5 p.m began his round of visits and inspections along the island and often he returned with his imperial boat.

Dinner was scheduled at 6 p.m with Madame Me're and Pauline (his sister), who joined him only in mid November. They often had guests at dinner: members of his small courtyard, visitors, sometimes Colonel Campbell (the English Commissioner in charge of watching him) and usually the evening ended with card games played with his mother and few close friends.

Dr. Foureau de Beauregard was visiting Napoleon every morning. Indeed the Emperor suffered from vomiting and rashes, but he didn't give much importance.

The islanders were fascinated by the new sovereign and his intense activism. In fact during his stay , Napoleon dealt with everything on the island: from stray dogs, public sanitation, until the construction of new roads that allowed the transit of carriages.

His stables had 10 saddle horses, 48 ​​workhorses and 27 different vehicles. During his inland horse rides, the Emperor was escorted by 5 armed men on horseback.

Nearby Portoferraio a building in the valley of San Martino was renovated as summer house (Villa San Martino), however, because of the hot climate, Napoleon resided there only in the mildest months of the year.

The mountain climate was healthier for him and in the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Monte, he received discreetly both his lover Maria Waleska and her son, arrived on the island for a few days.

Bonaparte hoped in vain for a visit in Elba from his beloved Wife Marie Louise, daughter of the Emperor of Austria, who had no sympathy for Napoleon .

Waiting for a pension that never came, the Emperor had to rely only on a meager income of the island. Even his plan to create a modern foundry in Elba, was proved unworkable. On the other hand, Napoleon got the income of the mines, which was a prerogative of the Legion of Honor. Collecting the owed taxes in Elba wasn't easy: in the case of the municipality of Capoliveri it took a military intervent. On the Emperor's departure, his personal reserves were out and he left many debts, as the delay or non-payment of wages, which caused riots and desertions among the soldiers: some of whom were confined in Pianosa, island that Napoleon attempted to colonize.

The army upkeep was expensive and justified only by the fear of a kidnapping by one of his many enemies. In addition to the Grenadier Guards and the Polish Lancers were recruited on spot also a French and Corsican battalion. Troops were gathered quickly and with hard work, about a thousand well-armed and undisciplined men that costed one million francs. Moreover, Napoleon had to hire also nostalgic unemployed officers who solicited him for a job, as General Boinod, totally deaf, who will be appointed general inspector of magazines.

In the staff of Napoleon took part: Bertrand, Minister of Interior and Civil Affairs; Drouot Governor of the Island; and Cambronne, Commander of the Guard. But every decision was taken by the Emperor first.

Meanwhile, the harbor of Portoferraio was growing an unusual animation: the influx of foreigners who wanted to know the Emperor was remarkable, large amounts of merchandise and food were necessary for the sustenance of both the court and the military, which enriched the inhabitants of Portoferraio.

In addition to the small existing fleet, Napoleon adds a brig, the Incostant; an imperial sloop belonged to the frigate Undaunted; two feluccas, La Mouche e L'Abeille, confiscated to the surveillance of the mines in Rio; and later was purchased one xebec, the Etruscan, then renamed L'Etoile. A small vessel was also ordered to the shipyards of Marciana but was never delivered.

For various reasons there was some difficulty finding enough sailors for the small fleet: some of them were recruited from the nearby Capraia and others even from Liguria.

The Emperor was behaving as he had to stay on Elba but, once he got warned that Congress (gathered in Vienna on the first of November) was aiming to confine him elsewhere, Napoleon started to plan his escape trusting that the French army had largely remained faithful to him. So, with great caution because the spies who guarded it, Napoleon began to organize his departure from Elba.

Casetta Drout

Casetta Drout

It is possible to visit, on appointment, the romantic Casetta Drouot (Drouot House) in Poggio.

Mother Letizia Romolino

Mother Letizia Romolino

Always on the side of her son during his glorious path, she met him during his exile on Elba.

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