NAPOLEON I AND ROME - Autograph draft memorandum signed and addressed to Napoleon by Joseph Fouché (1759-1820), Minister of Police during the First Empire, [1813]
Lot 119
NAPOLEON I AND ROME - Autograph draft memorandum signed and addressed to Napoleon by Joseph Fouché (1759-1820), Minister of Police during the First Empire, [1813]
Sold for £3,750 (US$ 6,303) inc. premium
Lot Details
Autograph draft memorandum signed and addressed to Napoleon by Joseph Fouché (1759-1820), Minister of Police during the First Empire, about Rome, heavily revised, describing the situation in Rome at the time that the Empire was beginning to crumble, and especially the attitude of Murat, the King of Naples, who is said to be awaiting a letter from the Emperor of Austria, Napoleon's arch-enemy, and professing regularly that he has always told Napoleon unpalatable truths during his times of success and will continue to do so now that things have turned against him ("...j'ai congé du roi de Naples. Sans doute il négocie avec le coalition. Il attend même une lettre de l'Empereur d'Autriche...le Roi peut nous servir encore--tant qu'il croira n'être pas sorti de son devoir il sera possible de l'y faire rentrer..."); he explains at length the dilemma in which Murat finds himself, on the one hand tempted by the advantages of joining the coalition forces (" lieu de faire à l'Empereur le sacrifice inutile de sa gloire et de sa couronne il va répandre sur l'une et l'autre l'eclat le plus brillant en se proclamant le défenseur de l'Italie, le garant de son indépendence..."), on the other seeing his troops abandon him if he remains faithful to Napoleon, adding that in Italy the word "independence" is now a rallying cry ("a acquis une vertu magique") for all who have begun to find French rule oppressive and time consuming ("...Le gouvernement de la France a une distance aussi considérable de la capitale ne leur presente que des charges pesantes sans aucune compensation. Conscriptions, impôts, vexations, privations, sacrifices, voilà, se disent les Romains ce que nous connaissons du gouvernement de la France. Ajoutons que nous n'avons aucune espèce de commerce, ni intérieur, ni extérieur, que nos produits sont sans débouché et le peu qui nous vient du dehors nous le payons a un prix excessif..."); he warns Napoleon that time is running out if he intends to try to salvage the situation in Rome and offers advice on saving the Empire by concentrating on defending France's natural frontiers (" vous faisiez une déclaration de ne pas dépasser ces frontières naturelles, vous aurez tous les voeux et tous les bras de la nation pour défendre votre empire. Et c'est cet empire qui serait le plus beau et le plus puissant du monde. Il suffirait à votre gloire et la prosperité de la France. Je suis convaincu que vous ne pouvez avoir de véritable paix qu'à ce prix. Je crains d'être seul à vous parler ce langage. Defiez vous des mensonges des courtisans, l'expérience a du vous le faire reconnaître.."), 4 pages, with extra paragraphs added in the margins, some wear and slight foxing, small part of lower blank corners removed, folio, [Rome], 27 December [1813]


  • Fouché, Duc of Otranto, was well-known to Napoleon as a turn-coat; indeed Napoleon had once accused him of treason in front of the whole cabinet for making approaches to the English. This despite Fouché's claims in the letter -- "Je conjure vôtre Majesté, de ne pas rejeter mes conseils. Ils partent d'un coeur qui vous restera fidèle..." Following the Russian campaign Fouché had been sent as Governor of Rome, but, not wishing to be absent from France at a time when massive changes might be about to take place, he contrived to leave promptly and take up residence in Aix-en-Provence. His task in Rome had been to try to stop Murat from defecting to the coation forces, but seeing that Napoleon's fortunes were at their nadir, it seems that, on the contrary, he persuaded Murat to abandon France.

    It is not known what became of the present draft. If he did send a fair copy of it to Napoleon, there is nothing similar in the French Foreign Ministry archives. A letter sent to Napoleon on 20 December is very different in tone from the present draft and gives no hint that such a letter might be to come (Fouché, Mémoires, edited by L. Madelin, 1901).
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