In 1816, when Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to the island of Saint Helena after his defeat at the battle of Waterloo, he wrote three letters. One of those letters, which is in English, is going up for auction this weekend in Paris.
According to the Telegraph, the French emperor worked hard to learn English so that he could better understand his captors. Napoleon worked on his English behind his captors back. The rare Napoleon letter is the first he tried to write in English.
“Count Las Case. It is two o’clock after midnight, I have enow sleep, I go then finish the night into to cause with you….. He shall land above seven day, a ship from Europe that we shall give account from anything who this shall have been even to day of first January thousand eight hundred sixteen.”
The letter is expected to fetch close to $100,000.
Jean-Christophe Chataigner of Osenat of the Auction house Osenat told CNN:
“He was imprisoned by the English… and he wants to continue to have a certain degree of independence, of freedom, and to be able to learn English without his jailers knowing it was a great motivation for him…. I think that French people who learn English today make lots more mistakes than Napoleon at the time, so it’s a letter which is relatively well-written…. There are very few mistakes apart from a few words which have two meanings in English.”
According to Chataigner, Napoleon was able to learn the language in two to three years.