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The Idea of Europe

 | 
Catriona Seth
, 
Rotraud von Kulessa

73. Political Hegemony and European Union

Texte intégral

1On Saint-Helena, Napoleon evokes the pan-European dimension of his political project in front of Las Cases and shows that, for him, the project of a great empire presented numerous challenges and had considerable potential, but also that it was an unprecedented historical occasion.

Napoleon Bonaparte dictating his memoirs to generals Montholon and Gourgaud in the presence of Grand-Marshal Bertrand and Count de Las Cases.i

2One of my great plans was the rejoining, the concentration of those same geographical nations which have been disunited and parcelled out by revolution and policy. There are dispersed in Europe, upwards of 30,000,000 of French, 15,000,000 of Spaniards, 15,000,000 of Italians, and 30,000,000 of Germans; and it was my intention to incorporate these people each into one nation. It would have been a noble thing to have advanced into posterity with such a train, and attended by the blessings of the future ages. I felt myself worthy of this glory!

  • ii In Ancient Greece, the Council of the Amphictyons, at Delphi, decided on public affairs; it was al (...)

3After this summary simplification, it would have been possible to indulge the chimera of the beau idéal of civilisation. In this state of things, there would have been some chance of establishing, in every country, a unity of codes, principles, opinions, sentiments, views and interests. Then, perhaps, by the help of the universal diffusion of knowledge, one might have thought of attempting, in the great European family, the application of the American Congress, or the Amphictyons of Greece.ii What a perspective of power, grandeur, happiness, and prosperity, would thus have appeared!…

4Napoleon Bonaparte on 11 November 1816, quoted by Las Cases in Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène. Journal of the Private Life and Conversations of the Emperor Napoleon at Saint Helena (1822–23).

Read the free English text online (1823 edition):
https://books.google.co.uk/​books?id=mLFCAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA67
Read the free text in the original language (1823 edition):
https://babel.hathitrust.org/​cgi/​pt?id=nyp.33433069328346

Notes

i https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Napoléon_Ier_dictant_ses_mémoires.jpg

ii In Ancient Greece, the Council of the Amphictyons, at Delphi, decided on public affairs; it was also supposedly proposed as a model by the French King Henry IV, who brought peace to a France riven by religious war, but who would be assassinated in 1610

Table des illustrations

Légende Napoleon Bonaparte dictating his memoirs to generals Montholon and Gourgaud in the presence of Grand-Marshal Bertrand and Count de Las Cases.i
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/4361/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 95k