Ben Weider
President, International Napoleonic Society



First, it is ridiculed;
Second, it is violently attacked;
Finally, it is accepted as self-evident.


It is easy to succumb to the temptation of quoting recognized authorities and obtain information from secondary sources rather than do primary research. A quote from a written document made by one historian and uncritically repeated by another soon acquires the authority of "Common Knowledge." This research did not rely on accepted HISTORIAN EVALUATION, but on primary research.



Over 10 years ago I wrote a book which explains the years of research that Sten Forshufvud, my col-league and friend from Sweden, and I did in order to prove without any doubt whatsoever that Napoleon was poisoned during his exile on St. Helena. The book, entitled The Murder of Napoleon, was pub-lished in 26 languages and has sold over a million copies. That's not bad for a history book. It proves that interest in Napoleon is still very strong.

More books have been written about N apoleon than about any other person in history. The Encyclopedia Britannica states that over 200,000 books have been written about him; the French his-torians claim that the number is closer to 400,000. It 's amazing, isn 't it?

People oftell ask me how I can be so sure that Napoleon was poisoned. After all, he has been dead for 179 years.

The answer is relatively easy. Eight eyewitnesses told me so (through their books, of course), and the information they supplied was confirmed throngh nuclear science. You don't have to be a genius to understand what you read; you only need to be per-ceptive, intelligent and know your facts. However, these facts, as teported by the eight eyewitnesses, were ignored, or their meaning has not been under-stood by historians.

The key that led ns to the poisoning was Louis Marchand, Napoleon's first valet. He was attentive, discreet, literate, shrewd, observant and loyal beyond the call of duty. All historians agree with this evaluation of him. He was also a very good artist.

Napoleon treated Marchand like a son, and left him 400,000 francs in his famous will. Napoleon's desire was to honor Marchand with the title of "Count," and his wish was finally carried out when Napoleon III came to power.

Unlike the other companions in exile who wrote books in order to make a profit, Marchand kept a diary while in exile because he wanted his family to know what happened on St. Helena. He instructed his family never to publish these memoirs. However, when his estate finally came up for sale in the early 1950s, it was purchased by Commander Henri Lachouque of the French army, and he arranged to have Marchand's diary published for the first time in l955.

His book will go down in history as a "time bomb" which helped unravel the mystery or, N apoleon's death. Marchand's painstaking accuracy in recording the daily events at Longwood House, just as they occurred, made the equivalent of a doctor's case file of careful notes detailing the progressive decline of a terminally ill patient. His information was vital in "blowing the cover" on what would otherwise have been "the perfect crime."

Marchand took home to France some of the actual hair that was shaved from Napoleon's head on May 6, 1821, and very carefully put the hairs into an envelope on which he wrote: "Les cheveux de l'Empereur." This lock of hair, in its original envelope, remained faithfully preserved through the years by Marchand's descendants. Neither he, nor any other companions of the exile could have known that one day, long after they were all gone, the contents of this envelope would tell more about the years at Longwood House than the total of all other correspondence, and the numerous books and manuscripts that have been published dealing with the Emperor's exile on St. Helena.

When critics weigh all the evidence presented in this paper and in my new book entitled The Assassination at St. Helena Revisited, they too will understand the plot to assassinate Napoleon, therefore preventing him from returning from St. Helena and regaining his throne as he had done when he returned from his first exile on the Elba. I submit that unless someone can produce authentic documents that refute the facts as reported by the eyewitnesses, they must accept their truth.

Napoleon was poisoned during his exile on the island of St. Helena; there is absolutely no doubt about it. He was poisoned in the classical manner of the 19th century. Until this day, no pathologist or toxicologist has seriously opposed the thesis. I call it a the sis for want of a better word, because the poisoning is a fact.

Of the 34 known symptoms of arsenical intoxication, over 30 have been recorded by these eight witnesses. Furthermore, the presence of arsenic in Napoleon 's hair has been confirmed by modern forensic medicine and nuclear science.

Over the last 100 years, numerous medical doctors and historians have attributed Napoleon 's illness and death to over 30 different causes ranging from gonorrhea to syphilis, from scurvy to hepatitis to cancer. History records that Napoleon died of cancer, and yet he died fat. How is that possible, when we know that cancer is a wasting disease?

Furthermore, Napoleon did not manifest any symptoms of cancer. Ask yourself this question: How can somebody die without manifesting the symptoms of his illness ?

Over 30 years ago my colleague Sten Forshufvud of Sweden had tests made on Napoleon's authenticated hair that was shaved on 6 May 1821, the day after his death. Hair grows about one inch every two months. Since the hair was cut at the scalp and was three inches long, this represented six months of Napoleon's life.

By testing the hairs by section, we were able to know almost to the day when he was given high doses of arsenic. The results of the tests on the hair showed extreme highs and lows of the levels of arsenic. The lowest point was 2.8 parts per million and the highest was 51.2 parts per million, and in each section of hair tested, the levels varied in peaks and valleys. This proves that Napoleon ingested more arsenic at specific times and less at others.

Keep in mind that the normal arsenic level in the hair at the time was about 0.08 ppm. Examples of the highs and lows on the Napoleon hairs that were tested are: 51.2; 45.2; 24.5; 18.8; 2.8; 7.1; 20.4; 24.1; etc. These results, which are way above normal, prove without a doubt that Napoleon was being fed arsenic at different times. There is no doubt about this. (See table)

Sectional Analysis of Napoleon's Hair
Graph showing Arsenic (parts/million) against Time


The table shows the results of one such test, in which the hair was tested in eight sections. Note the very high levels of arsenic compared to the normal content of the time, that was established at approximately 0.08 ppm. You will note that the highest content was 51.2 ppm, which is an extraordinarily large amount and shows without a doubt that Napoleon was being fed arsenic at this particular time.

The levels of arsenic in Napoleon's hair, which was tested at the Harwell Nuclear Research Laboratory of London, confirm the facts described by the eight eyewitnesses.

Over the years, people have attributed the arsenic in Napoleon 's hair as coming from the wallpaper at Longwood House, the water he drank, medication he took, or from hair cream he used. If these suppositions were indeed factual, then the arsenic levels in the hair would have been constant, as he would have taken in the same amount of arsenic on a daily basis. The extreme highs and lows show without a doubt that these theories are not based on fact in any manner whatsoever, and should be dismissed.





In 1974, when I met Sten Forshufvud, we decided to work together to prove once and for all that Napoleon was indeed poisoned. For this purpose we constructed two time charts. On the first chart we listed the symptoms as reported by the eyewitnesses on specific dates leading up to his death. The eight eyewitnesses reported independently from each other, in books and diaries, Napoleon's various symptoms. We used these symptoms as the basis of this chart, which covered a period of several months prior to his death.

These eyewitnesses were alI companions of Napoleon, and they are the Marquis Las Cases, who was working with Napoleon on a history of his campaigns; Baron Gourgaud, one of Napoleon's long-serving officers, who followed him into exil; Dr. Barry O'Meara, an English doctor of Irish descent appointed by the English to act as the Emperor's physician; Dr. Francesco Antommarchi, an Italian physician sent by Napoleon's family in Rome to replace O'Meara when he was sent home to England; Grand Marshall Bertrand, who had been with Napoleon for more than 15 years; Louis Marchand, the Emperor's loyal valet of ten years; and two English doctors, Walter Henry and John Stokoe, who attended Napoleon for short periods.

These eight people had regular access to Napoleon and observed him on a daily basis, and they all kept independent diaries of their lives on St. Helena.

On the second time chart, we recorded the arsenic levels obtained from the testing on the sectional analysis of Napoleon's hair at Harwell Nuclear Research Laboratory. We used a sample of Napoleon's hair that was shaved at the scalp on 6 May 1821, the day after he died.

The two charts matched. On the days when Napoleon was reported to be suffering from symptoms identical to those of arsenical intoxication, the Harwell reports showed high levels of arsenic in the hair. There is no mistake about this, because Harwell is one of the most sophisticated nuclear laboratories in the world, and was responsible for doing research on the atomic bomb for the British government.

These tests confirm, through modern scientific methods, that the symptoms recorded by the eyewitnesses over 178 years ago were indeed symptoms of arsenical intoxication. No suppositions here, just facts.

Since it has been established that hair grows at approximately one inch every two months, if it is shaved at the scalp and the date is known, then tests for arsenic in the hair can determine almost to the day when arsenic was ingestedo It is important to realize that in 1821, as in the 1990s, it is rare that du ring an autopsy the doctor would suspect arsenic poisoning unless he was told in advance.

I met Professor Henri Griffon, Chief of Toxicology of the Paris police, who has had a lot of experience with cases of arsenic poisoning, and I asked him if he could explain why so many doctors, then and even Dow, could overlook arsenical intoxication as a possible cause of Napoleon's death.

Professor Griffon replied that he never found, in any case of murder by arsenic, a doctor who had correctly diagnosed arsenical intoxication as the cause of death. Therefore, it must be conceded that none of Napoleon's doctors can fairly be blamed for not having understood his illness, They were simply not trained to undertand the symptoms of arsenical poisoning. Arsenic trioxide is tasteless and odorless --a first-rate-poison.






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