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Napoleon’s luck at Christmas

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Paris, 24 December 1800. It is Christmas night and Napoleon appears on the central stage at the theater “Opéra Garnier” to enjoy the concert “The creation” by Franz Joseph Haydn. The First Consul has just returned from the assassination attempt by noblesse and British intelligence. The ambush is set at the narrow street of rue Saint-Nicaise near the Tuileries gardens: the barrel filled with pyric dust, nails and stones lies on the cart opposite the café Apollon located between the hairdresser Vitry and the hatter Ometz.

Napoleon is seated on the first chariot with Minister Louis Alexandre Berthier, General Jean Lannes and Colonel Jacques Lauriston. The roar reveals the transit of horses and four carriages escorted by a group of grenadiers: the detonator is lit, however, is debased by the night humidity. The carriage driven by coachman César Germani runs faster than the fuse.

The explosion announces the massacre (twenty-two dead, fifty-six wounded) and the wrath of Napoleon. The propaganda is lively: the guillotine appears on the streets together with the executioner, the process has been evaded by the one hundred and thirty Jacobins found guilty and never returned from the penal colonies of Guyana and Seychelles. Dubois, Fouché’s (Minister of Police) best investigator, discovers the truth.

The iron on his wrists leads the monarchist Jean Carbon to reveal the conspiracy of two nobles (Joseph-Pierre Picot de Limoelan, veteran of the Vendée war and Pierre Robinault de Saint-Réjant, former Royal Navy officer) bribed by British intelligence for twenty thousand pounds.

Loyalty to the Ancien Régime ignited dissent against the republican institutions promoted by the Corsican leader on European territory. It was 1798 and Charles Emmanuel IV (King of Sardinia) denied military aid to the Roman Republic invaded by France. The French General Joubert dismissed the Savoy ruler to create the Piedmontese Republic.

The royalist revolt is growing everywhere: in Nizza Monferrato the ranks of monarchists equipped with pistols, rifles, sabers, tridents debase the guard, tear down the tree of freedom and the tricolour flag, demand bread and wine. A voice shouts “You will also have the lard!”: it is the indication agreed by the opponents to unleash retaliation and protect the newborn republic. Every year, on Saint Stephen’s Day in front of the Campanon in Nice is offered to citizens an aperitif of lard and breadsticks to celebrate the episode dated 26 December 1798.