Join Thierry LENTZ for a lecture: "Sur les bords de la Seine", History and secrets of the tomb ofNapoleon's tomb
Salle gothique de Saint-Emilion, 19h30
In his will, Napoleon wished to be laid to rest "on the banks of the Seine".This was decided by Louis-Philippe in 1840. The construction of the tomb at Les Invalides wasentrusted to Louis Visconti. It took a decade of work, under the critical scrutiny of the government, the Chambers, the press and public opinion, to bring it to fruition: a pharaonic undertaking that employed hundreds of workers and craftsmen, and was marred by incidents, delays of all kinds, and an explosion in budgets, not to mention the Revolution of 1848. Blocks for the purple sarcophagus were even fetched from the farthest reaches of the Arctic Circle.
It wasn't until 1861 that the Ashes were finally installed in the crypt. Since then, the Tomb has seen its share of ups and downs and its moments of glory. Great men - Foch, Lyautey, l'Aiglon - have joined the Emperor, illustrious and varied visitors - including Hitler - have followed in his footsteps, the Resistance has interfered, and the crowds of tourists today are as much a cause for concern as they are a testament to the irresistible attraction of the Napoleonic legend, which has become an integral part of the national memory, despite the unfortunate ones.
Thierry Lentz is Director General of the Fondation Napoléon and Professor at the ICES(Institut Catholique de l'Enseignement Supérieur - Vendée).Eminent
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