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Famous Last Wishes: Napoleon Bonaparte II

The concept of euthanasia existed during Napoleon’s days as there is evidence to suggest that his doctors played a role in his final days. In this article, you will learn more information regarding the death of Napoleon, including the role his doctors played in his treatment.

An Assisted Death?  

At the start of 1821, he was suffering from agonizing pain in his stomach and liver. He was not only vomiting and battling bouts of diarrhea, but showed other signs of the dysentery that he contracted while on the island. The symptoms also made him dehydrated. The physician treating him started feeding Napoleon with a poisonous antimony compound called a tartar emetic. The poison was masked in lemonade. At this time, this was a standard in medical treatments.

After drinking the poison, Napoleon took to the floor in agony. However, they continued to give him doses of the drink. A military doctor made the suggestion that he would be helped even more if he continued to purge. To our standards, this was a tortuous way to treat a patient with stomach ailments. However, the times called for purging, bleeding, and enemas to treat such symptoms.

As his suffered worsened, the military doctor gave him ten grains of a toxic laxative called calomel. This was three times the recommended maximum dosage. The calomel sent Napoleon unconscious. That same day, he was dead in the late evening. His last words were: “God!”¦France!”¦My son!”¦Josephine!” In his will, the closing words read, “I die before my time, killed by the English oligarchy and its hired assassins.”

Because of these words, theories developed that the emperor may have been gradually poisoned by his British captors.

His Locks of Hair

Napoleon wished for locks of his hair to be given to family and friends. Thanks to two valets that saved their gifts from the former emperor, the methods of modern forensics have pointed out a vital piece of information that has stirred conspiracy theorists. By using a technique called neutron activation analysis, it was shown that Napoleon’s locks possessed 13 times the normal amount of arsenic.

However, there are other culprits that could have contributed to the amount of arsenic in his system. Tests conducted on the soil of St Helena also showed that high levels of arsenic were present. Even the paste used in the wallpaper of Napoleon’s room had high levels of the poison. These details mean that environmental poisoning could have led to an early death and amount of poison found in his hair. There is the possibility that the British were slowly poisoning Napoleon, but there is no doubt that his doctors played a role in his demise.

Last Wish

It was Napoleon’s last wish that his body be cremated after his head was shaved, and the hair divided among friends.