top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
Explore
arrow down

Napoleon letter from Moscow for sale in US for $55,000

‘He thought he had won, and was enjoying the Tsar’s wine’

The letter was dictated to a scribe but signed by the Emperor Pic: The Raab Collection

A letter that Napoleon Bonaparte sent from the Kremlin in 1812 is being sold for $55,000.

The Raab Collection, a US based historical document dealer, is selling 11 of Napoleon’s letters, including this one that came at a pivotal moment in European history.

The French Emperor had seized Moscow after a bloody battle and entered the Kremlin, the palace of the Tsars.

The Russian Empire’s second city, abandoned by its inhabitants, had been set ablaze by saboteurs. 

However, Napoleon initially thought that it would still make for a good place for his Grande Armée to spend the winter.

In this letter, dated September 18, 1812, the Emperor described the situation to his advisor Jean-Jacques Régis de Cambacérès:

“The fire in this city begins to calm. Today I toured the main quarters. It was a spectacular city; I say ‘was’ because today more than half has been consumed by fire. 

“We have found cellars full of wine and eau de vie (liquor), which will be of great need to us. I have taken up lodging in the residence of the Tsars, the Kremlin, which is a form of citadel surrounded by high walls built to a height of 15 to 1800 fathoms…”

‘A prolific correspondent’

Napoleon is known to have sent around 37,000 letters during his storied life, however letters from Moscow are extremely rare.

“Some days he would dictate up to 50 letters to his scribes,” Nathan Raab, from the Raab collection, told The Connexion. “He would sign or put his monogram on them.”

“But what is surprising is his charm - his correspondence is particularly vivid, which almost makes it seem like you are there with him, raiding the Tsar’s wine cellars!”

By October 19, it had become clear to Napoleon that remaining in Moscow all winter was not viable.

After the first snow fell on the city, the Emperor and his 500,000 strong Grande Armée would begin to trudge westwards through rising drifts of snow, starvation, disease and elusive Cossack raids.

Only 92,000 of his men survived.

Napoleon would never regain the level of power and prestige he had in 1812.

Mr Raab added that he expected the letters, which are priced between $5,000 and $75,000, to sell.

“We acquired them over a year ago from a private seller. They are the originals, not later copies.

“These letters have always been in the historical record. I think they will sell well.”

Read more

Napoleon’s bicorne hat sells for €1.9m at French auction 

French couple sue dealer over €150 tribal mask that he sold for €4m

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France