Saint Helena: Longwood House – Napoleon’s Last Abode
What do you do with a maniacal dictator who keeps coming back for more power? Send him to a remote island in the middle of nowhere and settle him in a remote house and wait for him to die of boredom. In 1815, the British shipped Napoléon to Saint Helena where he arrived after 10 brutal weeks of a sea journey. He was settled into Briars Pavillion initially and soon transferred to a large Longwood House standing in the middle of the island, far from other settlements, and supposedly damp, cold, and rat-infested. Here Napoleon stayed lonely, cold, miserable, and bored, and cursing the day he invaded Russia and perhaps thinking that nobody would ever repeat this mistake again. He probably walked around the enormous estate, looked out toward the horizon, toiled in his garden (he did bring flowers from France), and wrote a voluminous memoir along the lines of “Dummies’ Guide to Ruling the World”. Today, the Longwood House is one of the most important Napoleonic museums in the world – it has all the original furniture and 900 artifacts: his tables, chairs, books, memoirs, bed he died in, and even the copper bathtub he bathed in (it’s really small, but I guess Napoleon felt it was spacial; and some of today’s world leaders would also fit comfortably – Macron or Putin). The museum is elaborate and extensive and a an automatic audio-guide overloads you with information above and beyond you ever wanted to hear. Napoleon spent 6 long years in the Longwood House and died in 1821 and buried on Saint Helena. Interestingly, Longwood House is considered to be a French territory on Saint Helena overseen by a special consul (most certainly a Napoleon-phile like most all people who come here and endure the long tour).