Happy Birthday, Napoleon!

Happy birthday, Napoleon!

Born on the French island of Corsica in 1769 on August 15th, Napoleon Bonaparte is known for being the steadfast emperor of France who conquered much of Europe during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. After winning most of his conflicts against relentless European coalitions, Bonaparte was ultimately defeated by the British at the famous battle of Waterloo in 1815. He was imprisoned on the remote island of St. Helena where he died at the age of 51 in 1821.

Just after Napoleon’s passing on the island, one of his doctors created a customary death mask for the remembrance and final portrayal of the great leader. In addition to over 20,000 rare books and manuscripts from this significant era, the Special Collections Department at FSU houses one of the few remaining authentic death masks of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Napoleon's Death Mask, FSU Special Collections and Archives
Napoleon’s Death Mask, FSU Special Collections and Archives
Napoleon Bonaparte on his Celebrated White Charger, Ireland's Life of Napoleon Vol. 1
Napoleon Bonaparte on his Celebrated White Charger, Ireland’s Life of Napoleon Vol. 1

In the early 1960s the Department of History established the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution which thereby led to the creation of this rich collection currently held in Strozier Library. Together, FSU’s Department of History and the Institute allow students a unique opportunity to study this historical period without traveling to Europe. Visitors to our Research Center can access French Revolutionary newspapers, primary source materials, letters, and, of course, Napoleon’s death mask.

Part of the French Revolution and Napoleon Collection is already available online and does not require a campus visit to peruse. Focusing on this period, the FSU Digital Library’s French Revolution Collection on Camille Desmoulins, Lucile Duplesis, and Arthur Dillon contains high-resolution images of original manuscript letters, notes and pamphlets from the years 1702-1876. This unique online collection and many others in the Florida State University Digital Library is open to the public.

Feel free to stop by the Special Collections Research Center at Strozier Library to wish Napoleon Bonaparte a happy birthday and learn more about the fascinating history surrounding his life.

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