News

The Waterloo Coin

Everyone has a gripe about something:

Belgium is issuing a new euro coin to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo -- one of the most painful defeats in French military history.

The French government does not like it at all. Paris objected when Belgium first unveiled its plan for a new 2 euro coin in February, arguing that it could "cause an adverse reaction in France" at a time when the eurozone needs to stand together.

Eurozone countries need the agreement of their partners to issue new coins. So Belgium set about destroying 180,000 coins it had already minted.

The 2 euro coin was my favorite coin when I lived in Europe. It is the easiest way to pay for small purchases and it is sorely missed. A two-and-a-half euro coin is crazy, though. Must be fun to be a Belgian store clerk.

The Red Cloak


The spoils of war go on display:
Items seized at the Battle of Waterloo including Napoleon's red cloak are to go on display at Windsor Castle to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle.
The ankle-length cloak was worn by Napoleon on the night before the French defeat and was looted from his carriage after the victory by Allied troops.
The embroidered red felt cloak has been in the Royal Collection since 1837.
A great deal of treasure was left on the battlefield, and then discarded during the retreat. How much of it ended up in private hands, I wonder.

History Repeating Itself Over and Over Again

Fouche, Napoleon's dreaded Chief of Police
All of this talk about being under surveillance and privacy--please. We are mere amateurs when it comes to keeping track of what people say and do.

Here are two wonderful pieces of history from Alan Forrest:

What recourse did anyone have under the rule of law? None. And America is the originator of evil in the world? They used to say that about Napoleon as well. His enemies were everywhere and he knew it.

The police state is over two hundred years old, and counting. It certainly did not begin with Napoleon, but his chief of police, the dreaded Fouche, is the predecessor of so many bad men of history that it is impossible to count them all.


And so, we must conclude that even the President is being spied upon. And, remember. Only Americans do bad things to their people.

Don't Make This


Steven Spielberg's adaptation of AI ruined it; I hope they don't make this project.

Napoleon, and the era in which he lived, would be great fodder for untold numbers of stories and a miniseries and films and whatnot; the subject matter is definitely worth mining. Is there any enthusiasm for what Spielberg would accomplish here? I doubt it.

If Kubrick envisioned the project as a film, and if he had the scale of Barry Lyndon in mind, then any deviation from that will require padding and changes that would dilute his original intention. Add in Spielberg's penchant for melodramatic nonsense, and you have the makings of a ruined project that adds nothing of value. Of course, it could go the other way and be brilliant, but I doubt it. I probably won't ever see Lincoln simply because I cannot abide the historical stylings of Doris Kearns Goodwin. I'm probably alone in this sentiment.

Kubrick's vision should stay with his legacy. Who could possibly reinterpret his work properly?

A Threat Never Carried Out


Nothing could be more horrific to consider than the destruction of Napoleon's army in Russia; I have deliberately avoided researching it or going into it because I wanted to limit my focus to the last two battles of the Napoleonic era in Europe where we end it all at Waterloo.

It is interesting that this particular letter, concerning a threat that never happened, went for 150,000 euros. Did someone drive up the cost? Is it really worth that much?

My guess is that there are so few remaining privately held documents like this that it was worth every penny to whomever wanted to preserve it.