Proclamation to the French People on His
Return from Elba, March 5, 1815
Proclamation to the Army on His Return
from Elba, March 5, 1815
Proclamation on the Anniversary of the
Battles of Marengo and Friedland, June 14, 1815
Proclamation to the Belgians, June 17,
Napoleon's Proclamation to the French People
on His Second Abdication, June 22, 1815
Bonaparte's Protest, Written on Board the
Bellerophon, August 4, 1815
Napoleon's Addresses: 1815
Compiled By Tom Holmberg
Proclamation to the French People on His Return
from Elba, March 5, 1815
"Frenchmen: The defection of the Duke of Castiglione (Augereau)
delivered Lyons without defense to our enemies. The army, the command
of which I had entrusted to him, was, by the number of its battalions,
the courage and patriotism of the troops that composed it, in a condition
to beat the Austrian troops opposed to it, and to arrive in time on
the rear of the left flank of the army which threatened Paris. The
victories of Champ-Aubert, Montmirail, Château-Thierry, Van Champs
[Vauchamp], Mormons [Mormans], Montereau, Craone [Croanne], Reims
[Rheims], Arcy-sur-Aube [Arcis-sur-Aube] and Saint-Dizier, the rising
of the brave peasants of Lorraine and Champagne, of Alsace, Franche-Comté
and Burgundy, and the position which I had taken at the rear of the
hostile army, by cutting it off from its magazines, its parks of reserve,
its convoys, and all the equipages, had placed it in a desperate situation.
The French were never on the point of being more powerful, and the
élite of the enemy's army was lost without resource; it would have
found a tomb in those vast plains which it had so mercilessly laid
waste, when the treason of the Duke of Ragusa delivered up the capital
and disorganized the army. The unexpected misconduct of these two
generals, who betrayed at once their country, their prince, and their
benefactor, changed the fate of the war; the situation of the enemy
was such that, at the close of the action which took place before
Paris, he was without ammunition, in consequence of his separation
from his parks of reserve. In these new and distressing circumstances,
my heart was torn, but my mind remained immovable; I only consulted
the interests of the country; I banished myself to a rock in the middle
of the sea; my life was yours, and might still be useful to you. Frenchmen:
In my exile I heard your complaints and your wishes; you accused my
long slumber; you reproached me with sacrificing the welfare of the
country to my repose. I have traversed the seas through perils of
every kind; I return among you to reclaim my rights, which are yours."
Proclamation to the Army on His Return from Elba,
March 5, 1815
"Soldiers: We have not been conquered; two men, sprung from
our ranks, have betrayed our laurels, their country, their benefactor,
and their prince. Those whom we have beheld for twenty-five years
traversing all Europe to raise up enemies against us, who have spent
their lives in fighting against us in the ranks of foreign armies,
and in cursing our beautiful France, shall they pretend to command
or enchain our eagles?—they who have never been able to look them
in the face. Shall we suffer them to inherit the fruit of our glorious
toils, to take possession of our honors, of our fortunes; to calumniate
and revile our glory? If their reign were to continue all would be
lost, even the recollection of those memorable days. With what fury
they misrepresent them! They seek to tarnish what the world admires;
and if there still remain defenders of our glory, they are to be found
among those very enemies whom we have confronted in the field of battle.
Soldiers: in my exile I have heard your voice; I have come back in
spite of all obstacles, and all dangers. Your general, called to the
throne by the choice of the people, and raised on your shields, is
restored to you; come and join him. Mount the tri-colored cockade;
you wore it in the days of our greatness. We must never forget that
we have been the masters of nations; but we must not suffer any to
intermeddle with our affairs. Who would pretend to be master over
us? Who would have the power? Resume those eagles which you had at
Ulm, at Austerlitz, at Jena, at Eylau, at Wagram, at Friedland, at
Tudela, at Eckmuhl, at Essling, at Smolensk, at the Moskowa, at Lutzen,
at Wurtchen, at Montmirail. The veterans of the armies if the Sambre
and Meuse, of the Rhine, of Italy, of Egypt, of the West, of the Grand
Army, are illuminated; their honorable scars are stained; their successes
would be crimes; the brave would be rebels, if, as the enemies of
the people pretend, the legitimate sovereigns were in the midst of
foreign armies. Honors, recompenses, favors, are reserved for those
who have served against the country and against us. Soldiers: Come
and range yourselves under the banners of your chief; his existence
is only made up of yours; his interest, his honor. His glory, are
no other than your interest, your honor, and your glory. Victory shall
march at a charging step; the eagle, with the national colors, shall
fly from steeple to steeple, till it reaches the towers of Notre Dame.
Then you will be able to show your scars with honor; then you will
be able to boast of what you have done; you will be the liberators
of your country! In your old age, surrounded and looked up to by your
fellow citizens, they will listen to you with respect as you recount
your high deeds; you will each of you be able to say with pride, 'And
I also made part of that grand army which entered twice within the
walls of Vienna, within those of Rome, of Berlin, of Madrid, of Moscow,
and which delivered Paris from the stain which treason and the presence
of the enemy had imprinted upon it.' Honor to those brave soldiers,
the glory of their country!"
Proclamation on the Anniversary of the Battles
of Marengo and Friedland, June 14, 1815
"Soldiers: This day is the anniversary of Marengo and Friedland,
which twice decided the destiny of Europe. Then, as after the battles
of Austerlitz and Wagram, we were too generous. We believed in the
protestations and oaths of princes to whom we left their thrones.
Now, however, leagued together, they strike at the independence and
sacred rights of France. They have committed unjust aggressions.
Let us march forward and meet them; are we not still the same men?
Soldier: At Jena, these Prussians, now so arrogant, were three to
one; at Montmirail six to one. Let those who have been captive to
the English describe the nature of their prison ships, and the sufferings
they endured. The Saxons, the Belgians, the Hanoverians, the soldiers
of the Confederation of the Rhine, lament that they are obliged to
use their arms in the cause of princes who are the enemies of justice,
and the destroyers of the rights of nations. They well know the coalition
to be insatiable. After having swallowed up twelve millions of Poles,
twelve millions of Italians, one million Saxons, and six millions
of Belgians, they now wish to devour the States of the second order
among the Germans. Madmen! one moment of prosperity has bewildered
them. To oppress and humble the people of France is out of their
power; once entering our territory, there they will find their doom.
Soldiers: We have forced marches before us, battles to fight, and
dangers to encounter; but firm in resolution, victory must be ours.
The honor and happiness of our country are at stake! and, in short,
Frenchmen, the moment is arrived when we must conquer or die!"
Proclamation to the Belgians, June 17, 1815
"To the Belgians and the inhabitants on the left bank of the
Rhine: The ephemeral success of my enemies detached you for a moment
from my empire. In my exile, upon a rock in the sea, I heard your
complaint; the God of Battles has decided the fate of your beautiful
provinces; Napoleon is among you; you are worthy to be Frenchmen.
Rise in a body; join my invincible phalanxes to exterminate the remainder
of these barbarians, who are your enemies and mine; they fly, with
rage and despair in their hearts."
Napoleon's Proclamation to the French People on
His Second Abdication, June 22, 1815
"Frenchmen: In commencing war for the national independence,
I relied on the union of all efforts, of all wills, and the concurrence
of all national authorities. I had reason to hope for success, and
I braved all the declarations of the powers against me. Circumstances
appear to me changed. I offer myself a sacrifice to the hatred of
the enemies of France. May they prove sincere in their declarations,
and really have directed them only against my power. My political
life is terminated, and I proclaim my son, under the title of Napoleon
II., Emperor of the French. The present ministers will provisionally
form the council of the Government. The interest which I take in
my son induces me to invite the chambers to form, without delay, the
regency by a law. Unite all for the public safety that you may continue
an independent nation."
Bonaparte's Protest, Written on Board the Bellerophon,
August 4, 1815
"I hereby solemnly protest, before God and man, against the
injustice offered me, and the violation of my most sacred rights,
in forcibly disposing of my person and my liberty. I came freely
on board of the Bellerophon; I am not a prisoner; I am a guest of
England. I was, indeed, instigated to come on board by the captain,
who told me that he had been directed by his Government to receive
me and my suite, and conduct me to England, if agreeable to my wishes.
I presented myself in good faith, with the view of claiming the protection
of the English laws. As soon as I had reached the deck of the Bellerophon,
I considered myself in the home and on the hearth of the British people.
"If it was the intention of Government, in giving orders to
the captain of the Bellerophon to receive me and my suite, merely
to entrap me, it has forfeited its honor and sullied its flag.
"If this act be consummated, it will be useless for the English
to talk to Europe of their integrity, their laws, and their liberty.
British good faith will have been lost in the hospitality of the Bellerophon.
"I appeal to history,—it will say that an enemy, who made war
for twenty years upon the English people, came voluntarily, in his
misfortunes, to seek an asylum under their laws. What more striking
proof could he give of his esteem and his confidence? But what return
did England make for so magnanimous an act? They pretended to hold
out a friendly hand to this enemy; and when he delivered himself up
in good faith, they sacrificed him."
Napoleon's Addresses: Selections from the Proclamations, Speeches
and Correspondence of Napoleon Bonaparte. Edited by Ida M. Tarbell.
(Boston: Joseph Knight, 1896.)
Placed on the Napoleon Series: March 2003
on Napoleon's Addresses | Napoleon
Himself Index ]