Back to Rome

Once back in Rome and far away from Revolutionary France, I felt safe again. But that feeling quickly disappeared in 1798.

It was a February morning and I was climbing down the Spanish Steps when an overpowering noise like thunder made me quiver. Suddenly there were soldiers on horseback everywhere. I got knots in my stomach when I saw their uniforms—they were French troops. There was no doubt as to what was happening—Napoleon was taking over Rome. The same Napoleon who called himself a “son of the revolution”.

So, this is why they’d cut off the head of a queen? To put France in the hands of the power hungry Napoleon Bonaparte? And what did sequestrating Rome have to do with “liberté, égalité, and fraternité”?

Using military force, Napoleon’s General Berthier invaded the Papal States and took Pope Pius VI prisoner. Rome was then renamed the Roman Republic and annexed into France.

From Rome, General Berthier then went on to Egypt where he joined Napoleon in his efforts to take control of Ottoman territories. But Napoleon’s campaign there ended in defeat and he was forced to retreat. But not before looting many Egyptian antiquities such as the Rosetta Stone.

Ahhh, I know men so well. I’ve learned from my many suitors that the most dangerous men are those lacking in stature. A man who feels the need for power is a man who is basically insecure. And insecurity can make you do devious things.

Napoleon wasn’t interested in getting rid of the French monarchy. He just wanted to get them out of the way so the power could be his. Fixated with conquering the world, Napoleon took control of northern Italy and declared it a kingdom. Then, in 1805 in Milan’s cathedral, he crowned himself king. Napoleon had betrayed the very revolution he’d helped to create.

(from “TONI O, The Beholder” 2021 ©)

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