Friday, 11 November 2022

A quest nears completion

I received another of the Tranie-Carmigniani series of books of the Napoleonic era this week, Napoleon 1813--La Campagne d'Allemagne, and it is, of course, glorious. I was particularly pleased to get a copy of this one as it is amongst those that are difficult to find and which tend to go for 'collector' prices. I found one that was more reasonable, albeit at the upper end of what I am prepared to pay for such books.

Jean Tranié and Juan Carlos Carmigniani, teaming initially with Baron Louis de Beaufort for the uniform plates and using the notes of Commandant Henry Lachouque, produced a set of books about the campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars under the series title of "Les Grands Moments de Notre Histoire" (Great Moments of Our History). There is a fascinating and really useful chronological history and overview/review of all of these books by Yves Martin on the Napoleon Series website (in English).

It began with "Waterloo" (one of only two translated into English) and, after a dalliance into the Great War with "La Marne", progressed in an ad-hoc fashion to "Napoleon et la Campagne d'Espagne 1807-1814" (the other one that was translated into English), "Napoleon et l'Autriche: La Campagne de 1809", "Napoleon et la Russie: Les Annees Victorieuses 1805-1807", "La Campagne de Russie, Napoleon 1812", "Les Guerres de l’Ouest 1793-1815", "Napoleon et l’Allemagne, Prusse 1806", "La Patrie en Danger 1792-1793: Les Campagnes de la Révolution", "Napoleon 1813 La Campagne d'Allemagne", "Bonaparte: La Campagne d’Egypte", "Napoleon: 1814 La Campagne de France", "Napoleon Bonaparte: La Premiere Campagne d'Italie 1796-1797", "Napoleon Bonaparte: La deuxième campagne d'Italie 1800" and "Napoleon et l'Angleterre". The first two volumes were published by Stock, the next four by Copernic. Martin tells us that, "In 1981, Copernic was not doing well and the series is picked up by the prestigious military publishing house: Charles Lavauzelle." From "1813" onwards the books were published by Editions Pygmalion (who also reprinted several of the earlier volumes) with uniform plates by Courcelle, Rousselot, Bidault, Coppens, as well as originals by Louis de Beaufort coloured by Jean-François Ardellier.

In 1982, after the publication of "1812", they 'side-tracked' and produced two volumes about famous units/corps of the period, namely "Les Polonais de Napoleon", about the 1st Polish Lancers of the Guard, and an edited and illustrated version of "La Garde Imperiale" by Henry Lachouque (translated into English by Anne SK Brown as "The Anatomy of Glory").

In putting together this post I found out that Jean Tranie is no longer with us, having died on 8th October 2001 and Juan Carlos Carmigniani followed in 2008. I am really pleased to have a copy of his last book "Napoleon and Italy: A military history of Napoleonic Italy, 1805-1815" co-written by Gilles Boué (English translation by Marie-France Renwick).

I now have the entire 'set' of those dedicated to specific campaigns and which begin the title either with 'Napoleon' or 'Bonaparte'. They are marvellous tomes all, with plenty of pictures, which I always like! Mine are mainly the Éditions Pygmalion titles and/or re-releases of the originals. These are beautifully produced with a lovely faux-leather cover beneath the dust jacket. The English version of "Waterloo", by Arms and Armour Press, was originally purchased for me by my father in the late 70s. I have mentioned "The Anatomy of Glory" above and in a previous review. In addition, I managed to get hold of "Les Polonais de Napoleon" and a couple outside this series "Napoléon et son entourage" (a text-only book with brief biographies of members of Napoleon's family, female loves, children, selected social 'enemies' (e.g. Mme de Stael), household, ministers, marchals, recipients of the Grand Eagle of the Legion of Honour and companions at St Helena), as well as "L'épopée Napoléonienne: Les grandes batailles" (an excellent introductory volume to the period, but also with much for those already well "into it", including lavishly illustrated descriptions of 25 major battles on land and sea, illustrated biographies of the Marshals of the Empire and appendices of tables of the battles (forces and losses), generals of the Grande Armée killed or wounded, flags and battle honours of French regiments and armaments of infantry, cavalry and artillery of the Grande Armée).

Despite the titles nearly all featuring the keywords (from a publishers point of view) 'Napoleon' and/or 'Bonaparte', the books do not focus only on Napoleon and the activities of and around him. Each covers the period of the campaign in its entirety, presenting a balanced and complete (as possible within the page-limit) account.

The books run to around 200–300-odd and are 'sumptuously illustrated' as Chandler says in his foreword to "Waterloo". There is a marvellous mix of text, reproductions of paintings, lithographs and cartoons of battles, people and events (some in colour, others in black and white, all reproduced clearly and with detailed captions), detailed maps (though most without a scale—aaahhh!!), contemporary photographs of sections of battlefields and lovely plates of some of the uniforms (with captions only and no text). Strangely, and quite rudely, Martin says that, "The text, however, is poor to very poor (with the noticeable exceptions of Lachouque’s Waterloo and Garde Imperiale)...". I need to be careful in challenging this conclusion as I have not read them all and not even read one book in its entirety, but what I have read was interesting, easy to read and edifying and is enhanced by lots of eyewitness quotes. I am supported by other reviews such as one that said:

le texte de Tranié est particulièrement bien écrit, dans un français classique, riche, épique ; le récit des opérations militaires est précis et explicatif et il est émaillé de nombreuses anecdotes dramatiques ou croustillantes ; enfin, le travail de recherche iconographique de Carmigniani est d'une richesse incroyable et est mis en valeur par un art très accompli de la légende qui fait mouche pour les accompagner.

My translation: Tranie's text is particularly well writen, in classic French, rich and epic. The account of military operations is precise and explanatory and is enhanced by numerous anecdotes. The reviewer continues with remarks about Carmigniani's wonderfully researched images and detaild captions.

The books "Napoleon 1813 La Campagne d'Allemagne" and "Bonaparte: La Campagne d’Egypte" received le Grand Prix du Souvenir Napoléonien 1988.

A picture tells a thousand words, as the old adage goes. This is certainly the case with these books. Carmigniani's choice of images, his detailed captions and the composition of the pages enable the images to be an essential part of each book, complementing the text by adding further information and detail.

I hope that these randomly selected photographs from some of the pages of the books will serve to give a sense of how lovely these books are, how well the images are reproduced and how well they stand alone (despite the poor focus of some of my photos that were quickly snapped!) .

La Patrie en Danger 1792-1793: Les Campagnes de la Révolution

This was the only book of the set uniform plates per se., instead having these lovely reproductions adapted from the work of Albert Gregorious.

 Napoleon Bonaparte: La Premiere Campagne d'Italie 1796-1797


Bonaparte: La Campagne d’Egypte

Napoleon Bonaparte: La deuxième campagne d'Italie 1800

Most of the books include orders of battle, generally to the brigade or divisional level.

Napoleon et la Russie: Les Annees Victorieuses 1805-1807

Napoleon et l’Allemagne, Prusse 1806

Napoleon et l'Autriche: La Campagne de 1809

La Campagne de Russie, Napoleon 1812

Napoleon 1813 La Campagne d'Allemagne

 Napoleon: 1814 La Campagne de France

 Napoleon's War in Spain: The French Peninsular Campaigns, 1807-1814



"The asides of glory" always brings a smile!

Several of the lovely line drawings of Jean Auge are used in the book (see Footnote).

Several sections of the Waterloo panorama are reproduced in the book.

Napoléon et son entourage
This interesting and useful book is all text, so only the cover shown here.

L'Épopée napoléonienne
Sample page. Unfortunately, my copy suffered bad water damage in transit from the vendor to me. Every page is wrinkled at the top and has mould stains. It is still useable, but it detracts from the impression. The vendor apologised sincerely, gave me a full refund and said to keep it (to expensive to return).
 Les Polonais de Napoleon
In 2018, I sought to find the original source of the drawings of Jean Augé that are reproduced in "Waterloo". This lead me to the "Le Champ de Bataille de Waterloo" by Louis Garros, illustrated by Jean Augé and Denyse Franck. I was able to get a digital copy from our National Library. The 88 pages of this packed little book provide a brief description of the preliminaries and opeing engagements (including Ligny and Quatre Bras), before covering Waterloo in some detail. The dispositions of the armies are describe and the battle narrated, aided by Augé's beautiful drawings. This is followed by a detailed order of battle and description of the battlefield, with vignettes of each location by Franck. Marvellous and another yet to be read in full! :)
This is one of only two of the drawings in the book by Augé that are coloured.
I have produced a command stand of d'Erlon based on this drawing, for a bicentennial game of Waterloo. Like so many of my figures, I got them 'okay' for the occasion and they have awaited the finishing touches ever since!


Garros, LFP, Augé, J and Franck, D (1952) Le Champ de Bataille de Waterloo. Editions Beaudart, Paris. 88 pp.

Lachouque, H (1975) Waterloo. Arms and Armour Press, London, England. 202 pp.

Lachouque, H and Brown, ASK (1978) The Anatomy of Glory. Arms and Armour Press, London, England. 564 pp.

Lachouque, H, Tranie, J and Carmigniani, J-C (1982) Napoleon's War in Spain: The French Peninsular Campaigns, 1807-1814. Translated by JS Mallender and JR Clements. Reprinted 1993. Arms and Armour Press, London, England. 191 pp.

Tranie, J and Carmigniani, JC (1979) Napoleon et l'Autriche : la campagne de 1809. Copernic, Paris. 239 pp.

Tranie, J and Carmigniani, JC (1980) Napoleon et la Russie. Les annéees victorieuses (1805-1807). Copernic, Paris. 245 pp.

Tranie, J and Carmigniani, JC (1982) Les polonais de Napoleon l'épopée du Ier régiment de lanciers de la garde impériale. Copernic, Paris. 179 pp.

Tranie, J and Carmigniani, JC (1984) Napoléon et l'Allemagne Prusse 1806 Lavauzelle, Paris. 255 pp.

Tranie, J and Carmigniani, JC (1987) La Patrie en Danger 1792-1793: Les Campagnes de la Révolution. Tome 1. Lavauzelle, Paris. 223 pp.

Tranie, J and Carmigniani, JC (1987) Napoleon 1813 La campagne d'Allemagne. Éditions Pygmalion, Paris. 311 pp.

Tranie, J and Carmigniani, JC (1988) Bonaparte: La campagne d'Egypte. Éditions Pygmalion, Paris. 315 pp.

Tranie, J and Carmigniani, JC (1989) Napoleon 1814 La campagne de France. Éditions Pygmalion, Paris. 312 pp.

Tranie, J and Carmigniani, JC (1990) Napoléon Bonaparte, 1ère Campagne d'Italie. Éditions Pygmalion, Paris. 265 pp.

Tranie, J and Carmigniani, JC (1991) Napoléon Bonaparte : la deuxième campagne d'Italie, 1800. Éditions Pygmalion, Paris. 266 pp.

Tranie, J, Carmigniani, JC and Beaufort, Ld (1981) La Campagne de Russie. Napoléon 1812. Les Grands Moments de Notre Histoire Ed. G Devautour. Lavauzelle, Paris. 302 pp.

Tranie, J (1999) L'épopée Napoléonienne. Les grandes batailles. Editions Tallandier, Paris. 176 pp.

Tranie, J (2001) Napoléon et son entourage. Pygmalion, Paris. 458 pp.



  1. Quite a nice collection ! I would read rather than paint!

    1. Ah, one begets and encourages the other, n'est pas?!

  2. More beautiful books James. The d'Erlon figure looks nice. How did he fare in the bicentennial?

    1. Thanks Lawrence.
      That was an act in four parts. If you are keen, you can go here ( and work back to parts 1, 2 and 3. A close thing, with plenty of drama and action across the field.
      Part of I Corps were used in a diagonal attack to the right (roughly east) of La Haie Sainte in support of a grand 'left hook' around Hougoumont (supported by a drive at the centre from Lobau). The remainder of I Corps were the first encountered by the Prussians, having to change face. The Corps was 'gawn' as a fighting force at days end!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Very detailed and passionate reviews of this collection of wonderful books James! I was quite gratified that I more or less understood the French and came out with my own version of your translation that was pretty similar - certainly, I had got the gist of what the French review said - not bad after 45 years since my last French exam!

    1. I thought that I had deleted your comment Keith, but it had been flagged as spam. Cheeky blogger!
      Well done on bringing your rusty French to front of brain!

  4. What an entertaining and enlightening post, I fear I have spent far to much on Napoleonic books recently, maybe I'll do a post like this one to at least justify the purchases?!
    Best Iain

    1. That would be great Iain, share the joy! I for one would love to see/read it.