FROM THE DAILY
TELEGRAPH, JUNE 25, 2001
By Thomas Harding
Dr. Chandler, whose works on the
French-born Corsican include the Campaigns of Napoleon, has taken 30
years to accept his conclusions.
"After long checking, I am
convinced 99-9 per cent that Napoleon was murdered. The only murderer must been
Count Charles-Tristan de Montholon.
"De Montholon was in the right
place at the right time and had a sufficient motive to kill his emperor."
An army officer who had an
undistinguished career during the Napoleonic wars, de Montholon had left himself open to bribery after he was caught
stealing money from regimental funds.
The Comte d'Artois, brother of
Louis XVIII, who had tried to assassinate Napoleon on several occasions, used
the information to blackmail de Montholon to become the assassin.
For years de Montholon fed his
leader wine laced with arsenic which made him ill but was not deadly.
However, a mixture of an orange
drink, bitter almonds and calomel created a lethal cocktail. Calomel added to
arsenic produces strichnine which both kills and then removes all symptoms.
A leading British expert on
Napoleon has given his backing to the theory that the deposed French Emperor
was assassinated by his fellow countrymen.
Dr. David Chandler, considered the
foremost living authority on Napoleon, believes that history books should be
re-written to include a final chapter on the conspiracy behind his death.
It has taken decades for Dr.
Chandler and other academics to accept that one of the greatest military commanders in history was assassinated. For
more than a century, it had been
accepted that Napoleon died from stomach cancer aged 52 on May 5, 1821.
But Dr. Chandler is now " 99.9 per cent certain " that one
of France's greatest heroes was poisoned by his compatriots on St Helena, the south Atlantic island to which ha
was exiled following defeat in 1815.
Between his arrival and his death
six years later, Napoleon was systematically poisoned with arsenic given by
Count Charles de Montholon, a man he regarded as his closest friend on the
island but who in fact was acting on the orders of French royalists, the
: posed threat
The monarchy was motivated by the
fear that Napoleon would return to France and lead another revolution.
Earlier this month, hair belonging
to Napoleon was found to contain excessive amounts of arsenic in tests
commissioned by Ben Weider, a Canadian millionaire and historian who has
championed the murder theory for the last 50 years.