March 23 1815: Maundy Thursday

“On 23 March, [1815]  Maundy Thursday, the entire court [in Vienna] assembled in the great hall in which balls were normally held, for the traditional ritual enacting Christ’s washing of his disciples’ feet. Two long tables set with twelve places each, at which twelve Viennese paupers of each sex were seated, had been set up on two raised platforms. The Emperor and Empress made their entrance, attended by the archdukes and archduchesses and followed by a detachment of the Hungarian noble guard. They then proceeded to serve the paupers a three-course dinner, waiting on them like servants. ‘The tables were then removed, and the Empress and her daughters the Archduchesses, dressed in black, with pages bearing their trains, approached,’ records an English traveller. ‘Silver bowls were placed beneath the feet of the aged women. The Grand Chamberlain, in a humble posture, poured water upon the feet of each in succession, from a golden urn, and the Empress wiped them with a fine napkin she held in her hand. The Emperor performed the same ceremony on the feet of the men, and the rite concluded amidst the sounds of sacred music.’ The rites of Easter continued the next day with the Stations of the Cross, and came to a climax on Easter Sunday with a solemn Mass attended by all the sovereigns and ministers as well as the court. The ministers had briefly returned to practical matters on Holy Saturday to sign a treaty similar to that of Chaumont, but including France and the second-rank powers as well.”

Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna by Adam Zamoyski

“On the 23rd [ March 1815] he [ Napoleon] ordered Bertrand to have various items brought to Paris from Elba, including a particular Corsican horse, his yellow carriage and the rest of his underwear.”

—  Napoleon the Great by Andrew Roberts

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