Thursday, 14 February 2019

Approaching Napoleonic wargaming heaven

I stumbled across this marvellous promo on the Figurine & Stratégie blog, via a link on a publisher's website that I was checking for some information for a book review (the many digressions of the web).

Last weekend, in Paris, there was a two-day wargaming weekend involving only Napoleonic games. The focus of the weekend was the Hundred Days campaign, with games planned using rules and figures of various scales--even a boardgame.

I cannot find a report of the event, but there are a few photos (like the one below) on their Facebook page.

Hopefully more details will follow. I'd love to hear from any readers who know more—appperhaps even attended the weekend.

What a wonderful idea. It gets close to Napoleonic wargaming heaven!

Saturday, 9 February 2019

About this blog

I have been thinking of creating this blog for sometime.

Statue of Napoleon at Les Invalides (Wikimedia Commons)

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821), First Consul of France 1
800–1804, Emperor of France 1804–1814 & March–July 1815, soldier, general, brilliant strategist, enlightened ruler, usurper, visionary, power-hungry autocrat, inspirational leader, ahead of his time. He is probably all of these things and more, depending on your reading of history and what particular propaganda, pro- or anti- Napoleon has influenced you. 

Le Serment de l'armee fait a l'Empereur (Wikimedia Commons)

No matter your personal attitude, it is evident that the man had a huge and lasting impact and provides a continuing fascination to this day. One only has to consider the number of books about him and/or the period that bears his name that have been published and continue to be. Not to mention the numerous reforms, scientific discoveries and ideas from that time that are still with us, or impacting us, today.

Mort de Napoleon (Wikimedia Commons)

I like to, somewhat flippantly, call myself "a chauvinist in the original sense of the word". I have had an interest/fascination/obsession with Napoleon and the Napoleonic era for over forty years. My grandfather, who died long before I was born and so I sadly never met, had collected much about the period. My interest was stimulated as a boy by a gift of du Garde Peach's Ladybird book The Story of Napoleon. David Howarth's Waterloo followed soon afterwards, along with several boxes of Airfix 'Battle of Waterloo' 1/72nd figures. My father too had an interest in the period so, when we began planning wargaming, at Dad's suggestion, in the late 1970s (first game 1980), it was the Napoleonic period that was to be the starting point (and remained the primary focus).

My ability to be active in wargaming has drifted in and out somewhat, due to the time and resources available to spend on it, but my 'study' of Napoleon has been steady. In more recent times, fuelled by the ready access to reasonably priced books, not to mention internet resources, it has increased asymptotically.

In my professional life, which focusses on applied research related to agricultural systems, I like to say that "I know enough to be dangerous in many areas". It is completely the opposite when it comes to my hobby. Seventy per cent of my figures are Napoleonic and around 3/4 of the books that I own are of the period. In this case I am a Napoleonic 'specialist'. I know enough of a few other, selected periods to be somewhat dangerous!

So, this blog is going to 'service' my Napoleonic obsession. I intend to post book reviews, interesting articles, points of discussion, links to items on other blogs or websites; anything Napoleonic here. Posts about Napoleonic wargames will appear either here, or on the Avon Napoleonic Fellowship, with links made between the two.

Hopefully my self-indulgence will be of some interest to other Napoleonic devotees.

A note: the title image for the blog, "Reddition d'Ulm, 20 octobre 1805" by René Théodore Berthon (1776–1859) was downloaded from Wikimedia commons and has been included on the blog under its public domain licence.

Nicholas Chauvin

Nicholas Chauvin was an apocryphal farmer, soldier and patriot of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Chauvin had a distinguished service record and maintained a devotion to Napoleon, despite suffering numerous wounds that left him maimed and disfigured.

The Glorious Acceptance of Nicolas Chauvin
Nicholas Chauvin, played by Alexis Manenti in "Le discours d'acceptation glorieux de Nicolas Chauvin"

It is suggested, in the Wikipedia entry, that the legend of Chauvin developed in the Bourbon Restoration and July Monarchy. Whether this was as a longing for the 'glory days' of the First Empire or as a form of anti-Bonapartism is open to question.

Chauvin was popularised in the 1831 in La Cocarde Tricolore, Episode De La Guerre D'Alger; Vaudeville En 3 Actes by brothers Charles-Theodore and Jean-Hippolyte Cogniard  in which he was transformed into a patriot in the Algerian War. In more modern and into contemporary times Chauvin is known for the eponymous word that has come to be used to describe any form of excessive or aggressive patriotism or prejudice.

I have been thinking for some time of producing a blog with this title, so it was interesting to me that when I finally decide to do so it was not long after a short film 'about' Nicholas Chauvin had been released.

Le discours d'acceptation glorieux de Nicolas Chauvin (The Glorious Acceptance of Nicolas Chauvin) is described thus:
During an acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award, Nicolas Chauvin—soldier-worker, a veteran of the First Army of the French Republic, of the Napoleonic Wars, and the father of the chauvinism that bears his name—launches into a great monologue and looks back at the story of his life. At a turning in the road, an encounter of a spectral nature shakes up his (non)existence (

Clearly an allegorical, even ironical film that is likely more about modern-day chauvinism in its broadest and nastiest forms than the supposed historical character. I am keen to see it, so I hope that it heads my way soon.