WE possess only a fragment by Hanotaux about Napoleon. It is to be found in a number of articles in the Revue des Deux Mondes in 1925 and 1926. These amount altogether to some 380 pages, but it seems that the author's interest or his strength failed him. He never finished the work and it was never published as a book. This is a pity, for Napoleon is looked upon here from unusual aspects and the resulting picture, in spite of a certain lack of cohesion and of smoothness, is one of the most striking in the whole gallery.
Hanotaux, who was trained as an historian, became an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was himself Minister from 1894 to 1898. In this capacity he attempted to carry through the policy of expansion in Africa at the risk of creating friction with England. No doubt he had the earnest intention of avoiding a war, but he was ready, in the last instance, to play the card of co-operation with Germany. The Fashoda incident was the result of this policy, but it occurred just as Hanotaux was resigning.
Apart from Thiers no one among our authors played so weighty a part in affairs of state, and at the same time left behind him such an important body of historical work. He differs from most of the others by not having concentrated mainly on Napoleon or the Napoleonic age. He reached Napoleon only when he was past seventy, after a monumental work on Richelieu, and a large-scale history of the first ten years of the Third Republic in four large volumes. He also wrote about Joan of Arc, and on various modern subjects. All this is reflected in his work about Napoleon. It is especially the man with personal experience of high matters of state, and the man who spent many years in intimate commerce with Richelieu, whom we find in this work.
Hanotaux's articles do not form a connected history. They deal with the tendencies of the regime, and with the characteristics and qualities of Napoleon. The first is called Du Consulat à l'Empire.