The Emperor and the Pope: The Story of Napoleon and Pius VII

The Emperor and the Pope: The Story of Napoleon and Pius VII

The Emperor and the Pope: The Story of Napoleon and Pius VII

The Emperor and the Pope: The Story of Napoleon and Pius VII

Excerpt

Napoleon, ruminating in the solitude of his weary exile on Saint Helena, remarked: "I should have had the Pope close by my side, then I would have been master of religion as surely as if I had been her sole Lord. The Pope would have done everything I wanted and I would have suffered no opposition from the faithful."

Opposition of the faithful, from Madrid to Warsaw, from Cologne to Rome, had played a large part in his final defeat. He knew it now, knew it as his mind revolved over and over, on Saint Helena, pondering all the might-have-beens of his career.

Yet he never understood the opposition of the faithful. He supposed, still, that he could have dealt with it by being tougher with the Pope, by compelling Pius VII to live close by his side at Paris. Under those conditions: "the Pope would have done everything I wanted."

But would he? The whole of Pius's life, indeed the whole past history of the papacy, should have shown him it was unlikely. Even on Saint Helena, Napoleon had still not grasped that Pius would never yield on essentials, wherever he might be forced to live. Nor had Napoleon learnt that it was precisely his tough policy with the Pope which had raised the opposition of the faithful against him. He had not learnt, he never did learn, that if he insisted on Europe's rendering unto Caesar what belonged to Caesar it would still be necessary for him to follow her to render to God what belonged to God.

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