- historical event:
- Unlike his marshals, Napoleon did not have a gold-embroidered uniform and hat. He deliberately wore a more humble uniform (more akin to a colonel's) and his famous, almost completely unadorned bicorn hat.
Napoleon Bonaparte achieved one of the greatest triumphs in his life on this day in 1806. He victoriously entered the Prussian capital of Berlin. Prussia was at that time one of the five greatest powers in Europe, along with France, Britain, Russia, and the Habsburg Empire. Napoleon later also managed to capture Moscow, but it was actually not the capital of the Russian Empire at that time (the capital was Saint Petersburg).
Napoleon’s entry was staged as a great spectacle. His marshals, Berthier, Davout, and Augereau, rode beside him. Unlike his marshals, Napoleon did not have a gold-embroidered uniform and hat. He deliberately wore a more humble uniform (more akin to a colonel’s) and his famous, almost completely unadorned bicorn hat. The commanders were escorted by an honor guard of cuirassiers (cavalrymen who wore a breastplate which was also called a cuirass).
The highest functionaries of the city met Napoleon and showed their submission by giving him the keys to the city.
Interestingly, the event was witnessed by the famed French writer Stendhal, whose real name was Marie-Henri Beyle. He later wrote the novels The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma. This was most likely the only time the young Stendhal saw Napoleon in person.
During his stay in Berlin, Napoleon visited the tomb of the famous Prussian king Frederick the Great. There Napoleon ordered his marshals to take off their hats and said “If he were alive, we wouldn’t be here today.”.