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How Napoleon was dismantled on a relic, or what happened to the body parts of the Little Corporal
How Napoleon was dismantled on a relic, or what happened to the body parts of the Little Corporal

The legendary French military leader and emperor Napoleon Bonaparte rests in the Parisian Cathedral of the House of Invalids. The ambitious Corsican was stripped of many vital body parts. One of them is his penis. After the untimely death of the Little Corporal in early May 1821, many apparently wanted to take a piece of his flesh as a keepsake. No matter how awful it sounds. Who and how dismantled the emperor for souvenirs, and where they are now stored further in the review.

Death of the emperor

About two dozen people were present at the autopsy of the emperor's body. Half of them were doctors. So, in fact, it was not so easy to steal something. According to one theory, the personal physician Francesco Antomarca cut off his master's love appendage. Another version boils down to the fact that the intimate parts of the body were cut off by Napoleon's confessor Ange-Paul Vignali. This was done during the traditional church funeral rites over the body of the emperor.

"Napoleon Crossing the Alps" by the French artist Jacques Louis David

Where did the important parts of the body go?

As it turned out later, this was not the only part of the body that was so impudently stolen from Bonaparte. A certain Louis-Etienne Saint-Denis was present at the autopsy. He was Napoleon's second valet. The former servant also confessed that he could not resist and stole two small pieces of his master's rib. Saint-Denis claimed that he took advantage of the moment when everyone was distracted and no one was watching the body. These two pieces of flesh also went to Vignali.

The exiled emperor

The imperial genitals passed into the possession of the chaplain Napoleon. He, taking advantage of his position, secretly took them out of St. Helena. The priest placed them in his home in Corsica. There they were kept in his family until 1916. After that, a London book company called Maggs Bros Ltd. decided to acquire them. Almost ten years later, the Napoleonic penis passed into the possession of a certain Dr. Abraham S. V. Rosenbach, a Philadelphia bookseller. He bought all the Vignali family heirlooms for a very modest amount of a couple of thousand dollars.

The unveiling of Napoleon's coffin on Saint Helena in October 1840, by Nicolas-Eustache Maureen

In 1927, this unprecedented artifact was first exhibited at the Museum of French Art in New York. After that, one newspaper covering the event wrote that some people sniffed, others giggled and pointed fingers. In a glass case, there was something that looked like a piece of deerskin or shriveled eel.

The misadventures of the "relic"

Twenty years later, Dr. Rosenbach sold the unusual "souvenir" to Donald Hyde. He was an avid collector. When he died, his wife returned the imperial organ to Rosenbach's successor, John Fleming. A few years later, the wealthy collector Bruce Gimelson took an interest in Vignali's collection and bought it out in its entirety for $ 35,000.

Napoleon would probably have been horrified by everything that happens

In 1972, the strange artifact was put up for auction in London. True, it failed to reach its reserve price and was withdrawn from the sale. After this fiasco, one British tabloid burst out with a not-so-decent headline: "NOT TODAY, JOSEPHINE!"

Finally, in 1977, the "relic" was sold to an American urologist named Lattimer. After the death of the doctor, the "treasure" was inherited by his only daughter.

Subject was subjected to forensic analysis. Researchers have confirmed that this is indeed a male penis. But whether it belongs to the Emperor Napoleon - this question remained open. Some historians doubt that the priest could have orchestrated such a theft. After all, such a huge number of people watched the body. Others suggest that he only stole a small portion.

Casket with a supposed relic

The penis is now still owned by Dr. Lattimer's daughter. She was recently offered $ 100,000 for it, but refuses to sell it. If, as Freud suggested, the collector is a sexually maladjusted misanthrope, then the emperor's phallus is an incomparably attractive object. He is the embodiment of masculine strength and domination. However, the Freudian paradigm has never considered female collectors and does not explain the attractiveness of such things to them.

In any case, it's time to let Napoleon's penis rest in peace with his master. Museums are gradually moving away from displaying human remains, advocating that proper burial rites for body parts can be performed. Napoleon's penis must also be allowed to return home and reunite with the rest of his mortal body.

Tomb of Napoleon

If you are intrigued by this turbulent period of French history, read our article about Napoleon's closest comrade-in-arms and relative: 6 curious facts about the general of Napoleon - Gascon, who hated the monarchy, and himself became a king.

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