Help me write Napoleon

Lord Oda Nobunaga

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
5,635
Ontario, Canada
Hey guys, I was interested in writing a story about Napoleon largely inspired from the 2002 series, Waterloo and Stanley Kubrick's script (as well as other things). Obviously something of this subject matter ought to be extremely long and filled with intrigues, wars and characters. To that end I decided to ask you enthusiasts what it should be like, in other words all of the details. What events would be covered (ie the Brumaire coup, the Congress of Erfurt, the Congress of Vienna, Talleyrand's attempted coups etc etc).

Naturally this would be more character focused for the simple reasons that it provides a much more interesting story and because there are plenty of famed individuals in this time. So what are the characters that would be in the story (generals, courtiers, ministers, kings, relatives) and what were their personalities, what were their tactics/skills (particularly for generals, but not limited to) and major accomplishments. How do we really flesh out these characters? How do we display these brilliant generals and the power/skill gap? As is well known the period was punctuated above all by the wars but had a fair bit of political intrigue that in many ways were overarching themes in the wars themselves.

I've been meaning to do this for a while and I hope you guys take part and enjoy. Frankly I'm through waiting for Kubrick to resurrect and I think you are too. :D
 

paranoid marvin

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
An interesting idea may be to write the story through Napoleon's memories whilst imprisoned on St Helena ; not necessarily what actually happened, but how he perceived it.
 

Lord Oda Nobunaga

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
5,635
Ontario, Canada
That would be pretty cool but not exactly what I'm looking for. Though I suppose you could incorporate aspects of that here.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,662
Republika Srpska
Perhaps try to incorporate some lesser-known elements. Most people know about Austerlitz and Waterloo, but other elements about the Napoleonic Wars are less known. For example, Napoleon's conflict with his marshals (you can incorporate Marmont's conduct during the fall of Paris for example), his less glorious side (restoration of slavery). It could be interesting to represent the Coallition as well, Tsar Alexander, Metternich etc. You can have some pretty compelling character arcs there, for example Queen Louise of Prussia, a proud woman forced to submit herself to her country's hated enemy in order to insure Prussia's survival.
 

Lord Oda Nobunaga

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
5,635
Ontario, Canada
Perhaps try to incorporate some lesser-known elements. Most people know about Austerlitz and Waterloo, but other elements about the Napoleonic Wars are less known. For example, Napoleon's conflict with his marshals (you can incorporate Marmont's conduct during the fall of Paris for example), his less glorious side (restoration of slavery). It could be interesting to represent the Coallition as well, Tsar Alexander, Metternich etc. You can have some pretty compelling character arcs there, for example Queen Louise of Prussia, a proud woman forced to submit herself to her country's hated enemy in order to insure Prussia's survival.
That is what I am going for, in addition to the better known elements. :)
 

Menshevik

Ad Honorem
Dec 2012
9,362
here
Perhaps try to incorporate some lesser-known elements. Most people know about Austerlitz and Waterloo, but other elements about the Napoleonic Wars are less known. For example, Napoleon's conflict with his marshals (you can incorporate Marmont's conduct during the fall of Paris for example), his less glorious side (restoration of slavery). It could be interesting to represent the Coallition as well, Tsar Alexander, Metternich etc. You can have some pretty compelling character arcs there, for example Queen Louise of Prussia, a proud woman forced to submit herself to her country's hated enemy in order to insure Prussia's survival.
Yes. Or how about guerrilla warfare in Spain?

Maybe incorporate the debacle in Russia and Nappy's retreat, show the hardships experienced by the troops: the cold, hunger and Cossacks waiting on the fringes waiting to kill stragglers?

And I've always wondered exactly how the various powers involved in the conflicts went about collecting intelligence and engaging in intrigue? How, when and where were spies recruited? How much were they paid, etc?
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,410
Albuquerque, NM
To have more, either subtract or divide. Napoleons life and career span a most tumultuous period in European history. His great battles evolved and mark important changes in how war was conducted. His romances are legendary, and the intricacies of his character are a fertile field for any writer. Waterloo and Borodin have been dissected, studied and made the center piece in more stories, books, plays, films and videos than we can comfortably count. I think you would be well advised to get away from what has been done so many times before.

Pick a period and series of events that were pivotal to Bonaparte and Europe. Napoleon shouldered his way up from a junior Artillery Officer, to become the Head of State for France. Along the way, he built a legend of battlefield success, or seeing opportunities and taking them to his own benefit. He was an ambitious man, and his successes on the battle field and in government only enlarged his self-esteem. His marriage to Josephine has been generally regarded as highly romantic, and yet it was a very troubled partnership from the beginning. Josephine was an essential element in the Little Corporal's rise to power, but she was wanton and fickle ... and unable to bear an heir.

Lots of good stuff that should make for a sound historic foundation for another new take on Napoleon.

My suggestion is that you write about the Russian Campaign mostly carried out during 1812. The events leading up to the campaign are fascinating as Bonparte wooed Alexander as a means of enforcing his Continental System. The story might begin with the meeting of the two Emperors and how they each came away with different understanding of what was agreed upon. Napoleon felt betrayed, and began preparations for a Russian Campaign. He visited and pressured his alliies (allies who had been previously defeated) to support him. He set Josephine aside for a more aristocratic woman by whom he had a son. When Napoleon crossed into Russia he led one of the largest, best equipped, trained and experienced armies in European History. Russia depended more on its vast spaces, and a seemingly endless supply of cannon fodder. Russian forces were forced again and again into retreat and withdrawal, and Napoleon's confidence kept growing. After the Battle of Borodino, subject of Tolstoy's War and Peace, that it seemed victory was certain. Alexander didn't play according to the Rules as Napoleon expected, though Napoleon broke the rules on a pretty consistent basis. Alexander didn't surrender, but opened the prisons encouraging the destruction of Moscow before taking up residence in St. Petersburg to continue the fight.

We all know the story. For the foundation of your story, you may want to base it on the intimate reports made by Count Caulaincourt, Napoleon's Secretary of State, in his With Napoleon in Russia. Caulaincourt was with Napoleon on an intimate basis for the entire Russian Campaign. He saw the campaign from the inside, from observing and talking with Napoleon daily. When Napoleon abandoned the remainer of the Grande Armee, it was Caulincourt that rode with him in an enclosed sleigh back to France. Caaulincour's insights help us to understand why Napoleon left his cherished soldiers to die in the battle with General Winter. As the Russian Campaign soured, his putative allies were backing away, and in Paris his Head of Secret Police was covertly arranging a coup. Take Caulincourt's book and do a treatment from the great raw materials in that book.
 

nuclearguy165

Ad Honorem
Nov 2011
4,826
Ohio, USA
There are 2 characters that it should primarily focus on; Napoleon and Alexander, the interactions they had with those close to each of them respectively, and maybe some smaller personal accounts from those others regarding their observations of the 2 main figures in question. Start with Tilsit, and then retell the struggles each had to deal with as their detente gradually unravelled and beyond, to war in 1812 and forward to the Sixth Coalition War, and finally the Congress, and Napoleon's final return and defeat in the 100 Days.

Maybe also touch a little upon the struggles Frederick William III had to deal with after Prussia's defeat in 1806, the renewed calls for war in 1809 and 1811-12, and finally the re-entry of Prussia into war against France in 1813.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,381
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Napoleon - the story of how a short, tubby Italian man, together with his brother, rose up to defeat his enemies and save the princess along with his faithful green dinosaur by his side.

Oh wait sorry, that's Super Mario.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,662
Republika Srpska
I am probably biased since I live in the Balkans, but it wouldn't be bad to include something from there, the Napoleonic Wars had a great impact there. French Empire established autonomous Illyrian Provinces there, and helped to revive Slovene nationalism to an extent. Invasion of Russia was one of the main factors that led to the failure of the First Serbian Uprising, and speaking of the Ottoman Empire, Napoleon's invasion of Egypt contributed significantly to the failure of Selim III's Nizam reforms etc.