December 7 1815: Marshal Ney is Executed

 

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On December 7 1815, Marshal Ney is awakened in his prison. His wife and his children have come to see him for the last time. Ney speaks to his family for a long time in a low tone of voice.” His children, silent and sad, did not weep.” Ney suddenly rises, and begs his family to withdraw. “His children, hitherto silent, burst into piercing cries.”

Left alone with his guards, Ney, equally hopeless and fearless, walks up and down the chamber. He changes “his dress, puts on a waistcoat, black breeches and stockings, blue frock coat, and a round hat”. Ney is taken in a carriage to the Jardin du Luxembourg, the place appointed for his execution. Ney gets out of his carriage, walks quickly to within eight paces of the wall, and turns to face the soldiers, his executioners. He refuses a blindfold, and facing his firing squad gives his final order: “Soldiers, fire!”

Marshal Ney, bravest of the brave, is dead. Waves rise, fall and die on the distant shores of St Helena.

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The details above are taken from the Paris newspaper account of the execution and can be found here. The first image above is “Death of Marshall Ney” (1868) by Jean-Léon Gérôme. The second image is  “Napoleon on Island of St. Helena” (1897) by Ivan Aivazovsky.

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