The Eagle in Splendour: Inside the Court of Napoleon
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: I.B.Tauris (June 30, 2015)
"When I think of the great Emperor, in my mind's eye it is summer again, all gold and green." Heine. The court of Napoleon I, in its grandeur and extravagance, surpassed even that of that the Sun King. Napoleon's palaces at Saint-Cloud and the Tuileries shimmered with candle-lit walls of Lyons silk and exotic treasures gleaned from distant campaigns; it echoed with the rustle of jewel-encrusted gowns, the drums of military marches and his courtiers' intrigues. This was the centre of Napoleon's magnetic power, the dazzling reflection of the greatest empire in modern European history. Napoleon's military conquests changed the world and dominate most portraits of him, but it was through the splendour of his court - a world fashioned beyond the battlefield - that Napoleon strengthened his ambitions for empire and retained his control over it. Philip Mansel brings to life in exquisite detail the heady world of this court: the power and ambition, visual magnificence and rigid hierarchy; stories of mistresses and fortune-seekers, servants and courtiers. Ultimately, the life of the court illuminates the life of Napoleon himself and the great force of a personality that conquered half the world yet, in the end, became "devoured by ambition", his past glories fading into ignominious and lonely exile.
'clear, well researched, always interesting' -Nigel Nicolson (History Today) 'The title and the handsome appearance of this book are in danger of obscuring its scholarly value - Napoleon is presented to scholars in a new guise: the Eagle both in splendour and as chie-en-lit - the author's urbane and witty style - [his] vivid description of the Napoleonic Court in this well-documented, attractively produced, but inexpensive book' -John Mackrell (Journal of Modern History) 'Although this may seem simply a well illustrated coffee-table book, there is more to it than this suggests. Mansel's book derives from a sound archival and bibliographical base - It is hard not to agree with [his] perceptive comment that it has really been the manufactured splendour of style which accounts for the continuing fascination with the Emperor, of which this is a not unworthy example' -Clive H. Church (British Journal of Eighteenth Century Studies)
About the Author
Philip Mansel, who has lived and taught in Paris, is one of Britain's leading historians of France and the Ottoman Empire. His first book, Louis XVIII, together with subsequent works such as Paris Between Empires, 1814-1852, established him as an authority on the later French monarchy. Mansel's acclaimed Constantinople: City of the World's Desire was described by William Dalrymple as 'An impeccably researched masterpiece of exquisite historical writing.' He currently lives in London, and is editor of The Court Historian, journal of the Society for Court Studies (www.courtstudies.org).