Today marks the 250th birthday of Napoleon Bonaparte – the first emperor of France and one of the world’s greatest military leaders. To celebrate, the ANU Library is holding an exhibition of our works about Napoleon!
Born on 15 August 1769 in Ajaccio, France, Napoleon rose to prominence during the French Revolution, leading a number of successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars.
Napoleon has since become a worldwide cultural icon. Even if you weren’t aware of his military background, you would probably recognise his distinctive features and temperament from the wide variety of portrayals that have been made in popular culture. You’ve probably also heard that he was very short – a much disputed claim to this day!
Our Librarians also dug up some interesting facts about Napoleon:
- Napoleon was an avid reader who had an extensive library and took his personal librarian with him when he travelled.
- Napoleon expected his librarian to be on call at all hours to read to him, report on new books, find sources of information on particular subjects, and summarise content.
- We can thank Napoleon for our access to canned food! He wanted a more effective way to feed his soldiers out in the field – so launched a food-preservation contest where a Parisian chef submitted the earliest version of canned food.
- Napoleon is partially responsible for the world’s Nutella addiction! In 1806, a blockade caused by Napoleon elevated the cost of chocolate. To deal with the shortage of cocoa, chocolatiers in Turin, Piedmont started adding chopped hazelnuts to their chocolate to stretch the supply further. During WW2 when faced with a similar chocolate scarcity, Italian pastry maker Pietro Ferrero started using hazelnuts again, leading to the invention of Nutella!
An exhibit featuring works about Napoleon is on display in the J.B. Chifley Library.