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Signed manuscript letter (1809) demanding a report on defenses of certain fortresses in northern Italy annexed to the French Empire.
Lengthy Manuscript LS: "Np" in French as Emperor of the French, 2½ pages, 7x9. Paris, 1809 February 23. To his Minister of War, Henri Clarke. Not translated. Two corrections in Napoléon's hand. The emperor demands a report on the defenses of certain fortresses in northern Italy, Alessandria, Fenestrelles, Turin, Piacenza and Genoa, which belong to France. He lists deficiencies in artillery at Alessandria, demanding that Clarke submit a plan to cover forthcoming requirements. While much of the Italian peninsula, including regions formerly controlled by Austria, were nominally independent kingdoms allied with France, Napoleon had annexed a large swath of northwestern Italy, including the places mentioned in this letter, in 1802. Among the major European powers, only Britain never allied itself with Napoleonic France. The other powers alternately warred with Napoleon and submitted to peace agreements or even temporary alliances with him. In April 1809, Austria broke its treaty with France and re-entered Britain's war against him. In inquiring about defenses in northern Italy, likely targets of anu Austrian military campaign, the politically shrewd Napoleon may have been anticipating such a development. HENRI CLARKE was private secretary to Napoléon from 1799-1804 and served as Minister of War from 1807-1814. He was created Duke of Feltre later in 1809. Stray ink marks at signature. Ink stains on verso of integral leaf show through at blank area beneath signature. Ink blots affect some words of text and the chemical reaction of the ink to the paper has resulted in a tackhead-size chipped area at right margin of first page. Light folds (do not touch signature). Contemporary pencil notes in blank area on signature page (unknown hand).

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Born: August 15, 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Died: May 5, 1821 in Longwood, Saint Helena

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