Napoleon's escape from Elba

How did Napoleon get off of Elba so easy? He had just ravaged a good part of Europe for the past few years. Did the British just take he at his word not to return to power?

Can’t imagine today putting Sadam on a small tropical island with a few loyalist and saying, “Sit, Stay…good boy”

Sorry, that should be “take HIM at his word”

The lenient terms of Napoleon’s abdication from the French monarchy had something to do with it. He abdicated not to the Allies but to his marshals.

iirc, napoleon was allowed to take a personal army with him to elba. no cite-it’s early and i’m going back to sleep.

Complacency on the part of his guardians.

And while we’re on the subject, whatever became of Napoleon’s son and Josephine, and his brother?

The Allies weren’t all that concerned about Napoleon escaping because he didn’t have an army, other than a small honor guard. He had become rather unpopular in France by the time of his abdication, as his wars degenerated into endless slaughter on distant battlefields. If he were foolish enough to return to France, the thinking went, he would be quickly arrested by the forces of Louis XVIII. Besides, the British had better things to do with their fleet–like harass New Orleans–than to patrol the waters around Elba.

Like so many American presidents, however, Napoleon looked a lot better after he was out of power. The restored regime of Louis XVIII began to look a lot like the detested ancien regime of Louis XVI, and all of a sudden a Napoleonic restoration didn’t seem like such a bad idea–especially to the French army. The army pretty much deserted en masse to Napoleon as soon as he landed on French soil, to the surprise and chagrin of Louis XVIII and the Allies.

Napoleon’s son died of tuberculosis in 1832. He had four brothers and three sisters; see here for their fates.

Part of the terms of the 1814 settlement was that Napoleon would have the sovereignty of one small area, i.e., Elba, and within that area be the established monarch. He had a British consul who was supposed to keep tabs on what he was up to.

Unfortunately at the time he made his move to re-establish his power in France, the British consul was in Naples for R&R and time to confer with other British officials.

Josephine died in 1815, a few months before Napoleon escaped from Elba. She caught a bronchitis or something very similar, which killed her within days.

“Escape” it may be termed, but in reality it was simply a matter of Napoleon waiting for the French political climate to sour while waiting for the British to relax their presence off the coast of Italy–not much more than ten months after abdicating. Though he was watched, the island itself wasn’t under a true blockade, and he was the sovereign authority on the island.

Napoleon loaded his 1200-man personal guard aboard a hired frigate (I vaguely recall that he did it in broad daylight, but I’ll need to verify that) and headed for the coast of France. Once there, Napoleon re-created his army as he went. He walked up alone alone to the first unit tasked with barring his way to Paris and basically said, “join me or kill me,” and it worked.