View full screen - View 1 of Lot 80. Napoleon I | letter signed, to Admiral Villeneuve, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805.
80

Napoleon I | letter signed, to Admiral Villeneuve, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805

Napoleon I | letter signed, to Admiral Villeneuve, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805

Napoleon I | letter signed, to Admiral Villeneuve, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805

Napoleon I


Letter signed ("Napoleon"), to Vice-Admiral Villeneuve, 22 August 1805


in French, giving orders for the invasion of England two months before the Battle of Trafalgar. expressing the hope that he reached the port at Brest, urging him not to lose a moment but to gather his squadron and join him in the English Channel within the next twenty-four hours; he declares that England is within their grasp and they are poised to take advantage of the moment, entrusting him to God's protection


"...Monsieur le vice-amiral Villeneuve, j’éspere que vous êtes arrivé à Brest. Partez, ne perdez pas un moment, et avec un escadre réuni, entrez dans la Manche. L’Angleterre est à nous: nous sommes tout prêts; tout est embarqué, Paraissez vingt quatre heures et tout est terminé. Sur ce je prie Dieu qu’il vous ait en sa sainte et digne garde...


1 page, 4to, integral blank, violet ownership stamp to bottom right corner ("Biblioteca Lindesiana"), "de mon Camp Impérial de Boulogne", 4 fructidor an 13 [22 August 1805]


This is the companion piece to Napoleon's letter to Admiral Ganteaume written on the same day (see previous lot), ordering them to make haste and join him in the English Channel. What Napoleon did not know was that Villeneuve was trapped at Cadiz by Collingwood. When Napoleon discovered this the following day, he realised that all hope of a successful invasion had evaporated and turned instead to the German campaign which was to culminate in the great victory of Austerlitz.


Villeneuve, in command at Trafalgar in October, was captured in the debacle and became a prisoner of war in England. On his return to France in April 1806 he committed suicide rather than face Napoleon.


LITERATURE:

Published in the article "Napoleon" in the Nouvelle Biographie Generale, Vol. 37 (Paris, 1863).


PROVENANCE:

Sotheby's sale 30 November 1925 ("Bibliotheca Lindesiana"); Bloomsbury Book Auctions, 11 November 1999, lot 69

Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate


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