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Napoleon's English lessons sold for 90,000 euros

National Gallery of Art

The first English lessons of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte while he was banished to exile on the South Atlantic island of Saint Helena fetched more than 93,000 euros at an auction in France on Sunday, significantly more than their estimated value. 


The private Museum of Letters and Manuscripts in Paris paid 93,125 euros for the lots, which it said would be put on display from June 21. The same museum paid 53,750 euros for manuscripts that Napoleon edited at Saint Helena for his memoirs, including his account of his victorious Battle of the Bridge of Arcole in 1796.

"Qu'es qui étoit arrivé. What was it arrived," Napoleon wrote in his first efforts to grasp the language.

Three lots of texts in English and French, as well as drawings, by the fallen emperor had been valued 7,000 to 9,500 euros, said the Osenat auction house.

The museum also bought a list of assembly member votes during the French Revolution on the sentence for Louis XVI who was sent to the guillotine in 1793.

One of the biggest surprises of the auction was the 187,500 euros paid for a document concerning the end of the French expedition in Egypt which was valued at between 6,000 and 8,000 euros.

The 29-line missive by Egyptian general Ya’qub Hanna to Napoleon is written in gold and black ink.

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