Napoleon’s boots sell for $128,000

A pair of boots worn by Napoleon Bonaparte sold for 117,208 euros ($128,000) at a Paris auction on Friday. It more than doubled the low end of the pre-sale estimate (50,000-80,000 euros). The black Morocco leather boots were made by Jacques on the rue de Montmartre, Napoleon’s preferred and much-patronized boot maker. They are just shy of 19 inches high and a European size 40 (US size 7). Small feet apparently ran in the family.

Contrary to the short man complex that bears his name, Napoleon was taller than average for his time. The average height for a man born in France in 1800 was 164 centimeters (5’4″). Napoleon was 169 centimeters, or 5’7″. The idea that he was very short was promoted by British satirists in political cartoons and caricatures during his life, and after his death by confusion over units of measurement. His physician on Saint Helena, François Carlo Antommarchi, recorded his height as “5 pieds, 2 pouces, 4 lignes,” using the pre-Revolutionary French system of measurement. That was erroneously transliterated into 5’2″ in English measurements when in fact it adds up to 168.6 centimeters.

The boots have an impeccable record of ownership proving their authenticity. After Napoleon’s death, the boots went to General Henri-Gatien Bertrand, one of his most loyal officers who had accompanied Napoleon in exile both to Elba and Saint Helen’s. Bertrand fought for nigh on two decades to get the French government to accede to Napoleon’s final wishes that he be buried in Paris. In 1840, Bertrand’s efforts paid off and Napoleon’s remains were exhumed from Saint Helen’s, shipped to France, given a grand funeral parade through Paris and reburied with full military honors at Les Invalides.

In 1842, sculptor Carlo Marochetti was commissioned to create an equestrian statue the emperor for the Esplanade des Invalides, and Bertrand lent him the boots to use as models. The sculpture never was installed. Bertrand died in 1844. The boots passed to the sculptor’s son, Baron Marochetti, who in turn gave them to Senator Paul Le Roux. They have been in the Le Roux family until now.

4 thoughts on “Napoleon’s boots sell for $128,000

  1. ———-
    You have: 5pieds+2pouces+4lignes
    You want: meter
    5pieds+2pouces+4lignes = 1.6873601 meter

    :yes: That is more than 168.7cm! :yes:

    And on a side note:

    While these boots are just shy of 19 inches high and a European size 40 (US size 7), the –very similar– boots of the bog body from Peiting are very well preserved and a European size 36.

    The Peiting woman in her coffin was 1.50 meters tall (i.e. almost 5 US feet), rather fat, and 20-30 years old, when she died:

    “The ‘Woman of Peiting’, found in 1957 when peat was quarried on the municipal territory of Hohenpeißenberg, is the only known bog body from Bavaria to date. She was 1.50 meter tall and buried in a wooden coffin with arms crossed over her chest near a path leading through the high moor. After a radiocarbon dating, this unusual burial probably took place in the 14th century [which presumably is correct, but there were all kinds of different and for technical reasons earlier results]. For reasons that can no longer be determined today, the deceased was not buried in the cemetery of the village, but off the beaten track in the moor. This was possible in the late Middle Ages with suicides, banished and executed, but also with foreigners or travelers. The cause of death of the woman who died at the age of 20-30 years is not known. According to forensic investigations, she was obviously well-fed and had a somewhat unusual appearance due to a jaw anomaly. Particularly impressive is the state of preservation of the knee-high leather boots, which she wore at her funeral and certainly also during her lifetime. They are made of two different leather materials, with the upper made of softer, more supple goatskin, while the sole, front and heel reinforcement are made of more durable cowhide. The boots show clear signs of wear; the right one apparently had to be repaired with a patch once during the woman’s lifetime.”

  2. These boots are made for conquering,
    And that’s just what they’ll do,
    One of these days these boots are gonna conquer all you!

  3. I am wondering if this Paul Leroux was the son of the famous Socialist and Deputy Pierre Leroux? I am a direct descendent of Pierre’s brother Jules

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