“…THE STEPS BEING TAKEN ARE WEAK…THE STUDENTS AND INHABITANTS OF UTRECHT WHO JEERED AT THE PATROLS BE ARRESTED AT ONCE AND TRIED BY A MILITARY COMMISSION.”
NAPOLEON I. Emperor of France. Letter Signed, Np, one page, quarto, Paris, March 18, 1811. To the minister of war [General Henri Jacques Guillaume Clarke], the Duke of Feltre. The text in the hand of Napoleon’s secretary Fain.
“Issue the order that the 36,000 rifles, the 100 rampart rifles and the 50… which are in Amsterdam be purchased and sent to Hamburg as promptly as possible, from where they will be sent to Danzig. Inform the arch-treasurer that the steps being taken are weak, that the students and inhabitants of Utrecht who jeered at the patrols be arrested at once and tried by a military commission. -Issue the order to the 24th of the riflemen, which is at the camp at Boulogne to proceed to Utrecht, where it will be at the disposition of Gen. Molitor….” A note indicates that this letter was “Received the 18th of March and sent to MM. Gassendy and Gérard.”
Utrecht was occupied by the French from 1795 to 1813, and had been the residence of Napoleon’s brother Louis, until his abdication as King of Holland in 1810. In general, the Dutchmen served the new sovereign as they had King Louis, all the more readily because the exiled Prince of Orange (son of William V who died in 1806) gave permission for such a collaboration. Napoleon’s directives regarding this uprising in Utrecht reflects on his inclination to oversee every detail throughout his continental empire. Marshal Gabriel Jean Joseph Molitor held commands in the Hanseatic towns, Hamburg, and Holland from 1810 to 1813.
In 1811, Napoleon was preparing for war with Russia, reading books about the country and massing troops between Hamburg and Danzig. The Prussian fortress of Danzig had been captured by Napoleon in 1807 in one of the few sieges of the Napoleonic Wars; it marked the defeat of Prussia.
Napoleon did not want war with Russia but the Czar, Alexander, technically his ally, continued to want to control Poland and expand Russia westward. [Danzig is the modern Polish city of Gdansk.] The Czar was also offended that Napoleon chose as his second wife the daughter of the Austrian emperor and not one of his own sisters.
Napoleon in 1811 was moving troops and supplies to protect France’s possessions from the mounting Russian forces on the frontier. Alexander, having been preciously decisively defeated by Napoleon, had no intention of attacking, but waited for what he correctly surmised — that eventually Napoleon would attack and he, Alexander, would fight a defensive war.
Also in March, 1811, Napoleon found the answer to his other major problem — that of succession. His son was born to his new Empress, Marie Louise.
In the hand of his secretary Fain [Agathon Jean Francois Fain, Secretary from 1806-1815]. Fain wrote a memoir, published in French and in an English translation, about his experiences as Napoleon’s private secretary.
Matted in ivory and beveled gilt with a bust-length portrait engraving of Napoleon I. Framed in carved gilt measuring 19 inches wide by 16 inches high.
This item is associated with these categories in our inventory:
- World Leaders