2005-10-06

Cause of French Emperor's Death?

A manuscript which experts claim confirms that Mr.Napoleon Bonaparte died of cancer and not poisoning has been uncovered in a remote Scottish cottage... Historians have long argued over the cause of death of the French Emperor, with many believing he was the victim of a murder plot. But now auction house 'Messrs.Thomson, Roddick and Medcalf' has found a manuscript written by a physician who examined Mr.Bonaparte's body the day after his death on 1821-05-05. The document was found among belongings given to the auction house by a private seller from the south of Scotland. It is due to go for auction tomorrow, 2005-10-07, at 'Messrs.Thomson, Roddick and Medcalf's' Carlisle auction house. Mr.Bonaparte was imprisoned and then exiled by the British on St.Helena from 1815-10-15, following his defeat at 'The Battle of Waterloo'. History records that when Mr.Bonaparte died while in exile on the south Atlantic island, his personal physician Mr.Francesco Antommarchi carried out a 'post mortem examination' and recorded 'stomach cancer' as the cause of death. It is known that six unnamed British army physicians were present at Mr.Bonaparte's autopsy. It is believed that the newly uncovered document's author was one of these six -- but it is unsigned. Mr.Steve Lees, a military auctioneer for 'Messrs.Thomson, Roddick & Medcalf', said he was convinced the document was genuine. Mr.Lees said:
'We have absolutely no idea how it came to be in a house in the south of Scotland, and the seller wishes to remain private. 'But we believe it is an extremely significant document which puts an end to the theories that Napoleon was murdered with arsenic. 'He is extremely explicit in his report that there was a large growth in Napoleon's stomach which must have caused him considerable pain. 'We also know that Napoleon's father died of stomach cancer, so there is a family history of it. 'And although traces of arsenic have been found in hair claimed to be Napoleon's, it must be remembered that arsenic is one of the constituent parts of lead. In the 19th century, lead was used to seal tinned foods and often seeped through into food. 'It is impossible to say how much the manuscript will fetch at auction, but we are confident there will be considerable interest in it.'
Some historians have argued that the British governor of St.Helena conspired with French count Mr.Charles de Montholon to assassinate Mr.Bonaparte after fearing he would escape and return to France. Four years ago Mr.Ben Weider, a Canadian historian enlisted the USA's Federal Bureau of Investigation's toxologists to examine hair samples which showed high levels of arsenic. But many 'Napoleon experts' -- including his direct descendent Mr.Baudoin de Witt -- have cast doubt on the authenticity of the hair samples . Mr.Napoleon Bonaparte was a general of the French Revolution, and the ruler of France as 'First Consul' from 1799-11-11 to 1804-05-18. He was then 'Emperor of the French' under the name Napoleon-1 from 1804-05-18 to 1814-04-06, and again briefly from 1815-03-20 to 1815-06-22. 'Mystery of Napoleon's death solved', Stuart Nicholson, The Scotsman, 2005-10-06, Th

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