Monday, October 26, 2015

The Burlesque Napoleon

Philip Walsingham Sergeant - The Burlesque Napoleon (1905)

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From the title I expected a comic or parody history of Napoleon but this turns out to be a serious biography of his younger brother Jerome.  The introduction notes that while "the study of a libertine's career could never in itself be particularly edifying" Jerome "had a career of wonderful variety and interest".  This included being King of Westphalia, Prince of Montfort, President of the Second Republic, Marshal of France and President of the Senate.  A very active personal life include three wives, five children (one illegitimate) in addition to being a "monumental rake".

Still, Sergeant apologizes for "confining himself nearly to the frivolous side of Westphalian history" since the more serious is part of the elder Napoleon's history.  Sergeant (1872-1952) wrote other biographies of a variety of subjects - Empress Josephine, Anne Boleyn, China's empress dowager, Catherine the Great, Cleopatra.  Given those subjects maybe it's no surprise that a 1929 book was called Dominant Women.  He also wrote several books on chess.