NLR Online Exhibitions

To Be Napoleon Each Wishes

Napoleon's Autographs in the Collections of the National Library of Russia

Decree appointing Citizen Dubois de Courval President of the Assembly of the Canton of Anisy-le-Château, signed by First Consul Bonaparte.
Documents signed by Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the most striking and controversial heroes of world history, were acquired by the National Library of Russia for more than a century and a half, along with collections of autographs, personal archives, as well as through gifts and purchases.

Currently, 26 autographs of Napoleon, dating back to 1796-1815, were found in the collection of the Manuscripts Department. These are two types of documents: official papers and correspondence.

Official papers includes decrees, instructions, сharters, letter patents, etc., signed with the personal signature of the first consul, proclaimed Emperor of the French in May 1804. The instructions signed by Napoleon, in rare cases written by him in full, are available in several reports addressed to him and draft documents submitted to him for consideration.

Most of the letters from Napoleon Bonaparte, housed in the collection of the Department are addressed to the famous military leaders of the French army, namely Marshals Ney and Berthier, Generals Dombrovsky, Casalta, Rapp and others. These documents, combining the features of personal and business correspondence, are related to individual episodes of the military history of the Napoleonic period. Actually, the letters as well as many official papers are mainly written out by his secretaries and only signed by Napoleon.

J.-O.-C. Page. Portrait of Marshal Berthier. 1808. Fragment.
Napoleon I. Letter to Marshal Berthier about the movement of French troops towards Tolosa.