Interesting column on Napoleon ( ), but the opening lead me to think the column would address the famous hand-in-shirt pose we see in so many paintings (and comic impersonations ) od the Emperor. I’d never heard the “tin disease” story before.

I have an objections, though, to your calling Napoleon “short”. Napoleon was 5’7" tall – which is precisely my height (and, judging from Dopefests I’ve been to, not an unlikely Doper height) It’s about average height for several cou ntries around the world (Human height - Wikipedia )
Of course, I feel a particular affinity for the Emperor. I note that, on his retreat from Moscow, he passed through one of the villages my ancestors came from. When I think about it, my hand goes into my shirt, and I think of conquests.

IIRC, he was regarded as short even by his contemporaries.

In his 1904 Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mentioned the continuing hold on the European imagination that Bonaparte still had. Dr. Watson suggested that someone with a pathological fixation on the Emperor was systematically breaking plaster busts of him. Although that didn’t turn out to be the actual motivation of the criminal, neither Holmes nor Lestrade, IIRC, regarded it as an outlandish theory.

We had a previous thread on why he likely posed with his hand in his coat.

Of course, in the movie Time Bandits it turned out that Napoleon kept his hand in his pocket because it was fake and detachable - gold, I think?

His pocket? That might explain things… :smack:

As I recall, the French cavalry had a minimum height (I’m still looking for it, but it was around six feet) and, combined with the general predilection in our culture to promote tall guys, Nappy was surrounded by guys much taller than he. Plus British propaganda seized on his height to denigrate him. Finally, at the time the Metric system hadn’t completely shook out and a centimeter was not necessarily the 2.54 to the inch we people who have to translate drawings between systems have come to love; at the time it was somewhat larger so when his French contemporaries described him as what converted to 5’-2 they were using bigger centimeters and, at 2.54:1, he worked out to be about 5’-8", taller than Cal and the average Frenchman of his day but much shorter than his officers.

Perhaps, but Napoleon was an artilleryman.

The meter, and the centimeter, have not changed even remotely that much; we’re talking about hundredths of one percent, here, at the most.

I suspect (and a little googling proves me right) that there was not a problem with the metric system (which Napoleon personally disliked), but rather with the conversion between pre-metric French feet and English feet. It appears that his true height was about 5’ 6 1/2" (English), or 5’ 2" (French). However, it is possible that there was no mistake, and he actually was 5’ 2" (English).

He may have been in artillery as a young man but later he commanded, including cavalry. I’ll accept what you say about incompatible measurement sytems.