Napoléon and his life-long love of Mathematics

23 July 1823, an auction of Napoleon’s library at his exile island St. Helena was held in London.

Among the books of history, geography, classics from Plutarch to Voltaire – many volumes contained handwritten comments by the emperor – were the mathematics books:

Bézourt’s Cours de mathématiques
Mentelle’s Géographie mathématique
Nine volumes of Lacroix’s Traité du calcul (At the end of volume containing the Algebra, there are 3 pages of calculations by Napoléon.)

During the last days of Napoléon before his death on St. Helena, he was engrossed in scientific and mathematical reading, sometimes spending entire days. It was here he predicted the rise of the ‘sleeping lion’ China which would tremble the world. Also the ‘Founding Father of Singapore’ Sir Stamford Raffles, on his return to England for good, paid a visit to Napoléon on the beach of St. Helena, where the lonely captive emperor was looking for ships bringing him news from the outside world.


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