My obsession with Napoleon has always been personal and quixotic. I never tried to understand him as a general or warrior. I hate war and I did come to believe, right or wrong, that Napoleon also did hate war.
He frequently said he was a slave to the nature of things. It was pretty much impossible to get Napoleon to deviate from the path he felt compelled to follow. Many have found that True of me as well.
I wanted to know if the rumor that persisted during his lifetime was True: was he secretly the romantic partner of his stepdaughter Hortense?
When I used to go to Napoleon conferences, it was mostly me and older guys who admired Napoleon as a man and military strategist. When it came to his relationships with women, they would defer to my expertise - such as it is.
I am being guided to closely inspect the memoirs of a man about whom I have never heard anyone criticize. My main source on Napoleon has been the memoirs of Hortense. Although Hortense admits to being afflicted (or perhaps blessed) with impossibly high standards, she never found fault with Caulaincourt. Hortense memoirs are full of her vexations and disappointments with “the Emperor”.
Ultimately, despite Caulaincourt’s and Hortense’s issues with Napoleon, they stood behind him during the last 100 days of his rule. They were both essentially destroyed socially for the rest of their lives as a penalty for showing loyalty to the Emperor.
I have never read this supposedly credible memoir by a man who appeared to have a character that was above reproach. Both Hortense and Caulaincourt were bloodline nobles and Napoleon was of lower rank according to the “aristocratic” notions of their day.
Just like the opening of Hortense’s memoirs, Caulaincourt says he’s going to tell the Truth about Napoleon. What is his Truth?
The other anecdote I have heard about these memoirs which may be True is that some German generals were known to carry these memoirs with them during their fight in Russia during WWII.