|Guilded doors at the entrance to the Chapel of San Louis at Les Invalides|
where Napoleon is buried in the crypt.
Exiled by a coalition of his foes, the former French emperor died alone.
His first wife, Josephine had passed away more than two years before, ironically on the day that he set foot on Elba, the island that was his first exiled home. His second wife, Empress Maria Louisa was not at his side. Nor was his son, the King of Rome, Napoléon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte, a child of ten.
Though Napoleon died in 1821, his body was not returned to France at his death. In 1821, Louis XVIII, a Bourbon and brother to guillotined Louis XVI, sat the throne, restored to his power by the Allies who had defeated Napoleon in April 1814 and then again at Waterloo in June 18, 1815.
He was buried under a tree on St. Helena. There he awaited a change in politics in his native country.
Torn by political upheavals with death of Louis XVIII, the ascension of his brother Charles X, and that man's abdication, then the naming of another Bourbon, Louis-Phillippe to the crown of France, there was much uncertainty in the country. Only as Louis-Phillippe reigned in a passive manner did the consideration of returning Napoleon's body to France become a viable issue for debate.
December 15, 1840 Napoleon's body arrived in Paris after a sea voyage from St. Helena. With an elaborate plan for a funeral, his body arrived at Le Havre and his coffin placed on a funeral car drawn by 16 black horses, followed by his imperial eagles veiled in crepe. His coffin traveled through Paris, beneath the Arc de Triumph and an estimated one million people greeted its arrival, shouting, "Vive mon grand Napoleon."
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