On This Day: May 5th

In 1821 on the 5th of May, Napoleon the first Emperor of the French died in exile on the island of Saint Helena. After defeat to the British at the Battle of Waterloo his position in France became untenable, with the knowledge the Prussian’s and British wanted him dead or alive and British ships blocking all ports he could escape from, Napoleon demanded asylum from the British.

Saint Helena is a volcanic tropical island in the South Atlantic Ocean, 4000 km east of Rio de Janeiro. It is a part of British Overseas Territory, it is one of the most remote islands in the world and has been used as an island to hold prisoners by the British on numerous occasions.

Napoleon was held in Longwood House which was described as a damp and wretched habitation. His health degraded rapidly, he reconciled with the Catholic Church and died on the 5th of May after he had done his confession. The cause of death was believed to be stomach cancer, as was stated in the official report. However other causes such as arsenic poisoning were put forward but more were recently dismissed. There have even been conspiracies that the British stationed there killed him to put him out of his misery but there is little evidence to support this.

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