On This Day in Napoleonic History – 1 March 1815

Napoleon lands in France on his return from Elba

1Napoleon disembarked in Golfe-Juan, between Cannes and Antibes, on the French Riviera, with a total force of 1,142 men and 2 light cannon. He was about to embark on the most fascinating endeavour in history, an event unprecedented in the past and unlikely to ever be repeated in the future. With the armies of all nations of Europe against him, he would retake Paris without firing a shot. ‘After the fall of Paris, my heart was torn apart but my spirit remained resolute. Frenchmen, in my exile I heard your complaints and wishes. So, amid all sorts of dangers, I arrived among you to regain my rights, which are yours,’ he stated in his proclamation.

Napoleon’s triumphant return was made possible by the support he still enjoyed in France, from soldiers who wanted to return to glory and full pay, peasants who feared the return of feudal dues, land owners who didn’t want to lose their property to nobles and the Church, and imperial civil servants who lost their jobs to the royalists. Napoleon would march to Paris via what is now known as Route Napoleon, a road that was inaugurated by the French government in 1932. It runs from the French Riviera along the foothills of the Alps, marked by impressive stone Imperial Eagles.

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