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Napoleon letter in English fetches $410K at auction

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Napoleon letter in English fetches $410K at auction

  • Osenat

A letter in English from the French military general Napoleon Bonaparte has sold for $410,000 at an auction in Fontainebleau, near the French capital Paris.

AFP says that the"rare" one-page letter is dated Mar. 9 1816 and was written by Napoleon during his post-Waterloo exile on the South Atlantic island of Saint Helena. It is one of just three known to exist, according to the auction house Osenat, but was expected to fetch between just 60,000 and 80,000 euros.  In the end, it prompted a dramatic bidding war.

Associated Press says the letter "offers a window into the mind of the French emperor, struggling with syntax of the language of enemy Britain."  Napoleon famously dismissed England as a “nation of shopkeepers” and put off learning English until much later in life.

The letter was written on a standard-sized sheet of paper, sealed with the imperial eagle wax stamp and sent to his English teacher, the Count of Las Cases, for correction, explains Deutschen Welle. Some passages "can be a bit tricky to decipher," the German news service says.  It cites the passage: "he shall land above seven day a ship from Europe that we shall give account from anything who this shall have been even to day of first January thousand eight hundred sixteen,"  explaining that Napoleon was referring to a ship that would be landing at Saint Helena soon, bringing news of what had happened since Jan. 1 1816.

Napoleon died in island exile on May 5, 1821, aged 52.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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