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Blog · Paris · Napoleon coming up short…
December 17, 2018

Napoleon coming up short…

By Bethy Squires
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So we all know about the short guy with the big ego… Yep, that’s right, Napoleon Bonaparte. But what if I told you that he actually wasn’t short? I can’t deny the ego part but Napoleon was actually above average height for a European man at the the time.

There are four main reasons that the world believes that this man left something to be desired in the height department and one of the them being that at the time, France and Britain had slightly different measuring systems but used the same terms. The french measured him up to be 5 ft 2 and for the British the equivalent would have been 5ft 6 (1.68m) which is the measurement we use today.

The second reason is due to the fact that the minimum height of his imperial guards was set at 5 ft 10 (1.78 m) which meant that they would tower over him by at least 10 cm but his guards were generally much taller than the minimum height.

The third being that the British had waged a propaganda campaign to smear and humiliate the french leader while he was alive and even after his death. These nasty little rumors were spread through newspaper print and art. This is the biggest reason most of us hold this image of the emperor as a tiny man.

The fourth and funniest reason is due to the fact that during the infamous battle of Waterloo, Napoleon couldn’t mount his horse to lead his soldiers into battle and the British used this to reinforce the already strong belief that he was short and were heard laughing while regaling their fellow Brits the story of how he was too short to climb up on his steed. The real reason he couldn’t saddle up was because he had an even more embarrassing infliction… hemorrhoids.. Yep, you read right. He was in too much pain to gallop into battle and many historians believe this was the real reason that the french side lost that fateful day..

If you enjoyed this little look into one of the most important men of french history, why not join our Eiffel tower tour to learn more about him and many others who lived in and loved this beautiful city!

Written by: Amber Petersen