History Prizes 2003

2003PrixWaresquielFIRST EMPIRE PRIZE

Emmanuel de WARESQUIEL, Talleyrand, le prince immobile, Paris, Fayard
Using many previously unpublished sources, Emmanuel de Waresquiel here gives a careful view of Talleyrand, stripping away the ‘black legend’, but not denying that politician’s skill at manipulation. Talleyrand was a man born into the Ancien Régime, and it was here that he learnt his life’s most important lesson, namely the art of appearing in society (whilst at the same time developing a taste for secrecy and game playing). He was pugnaciously tenacious in his political and economic beliefs, whilst remaining pliant enough to be able to bend his action, rather than his ideas, to events.

Sumptuously illustrated, this is THE biography of Talleyrand, and the benchmark for all those to come.

Previously of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, doctor in history, researcher at the École Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Emmanuel de Waresquiel is the author of the biography Duc de Richelieu, un sentimental en politique (Perrin, 1991) and of Histoire de la Restauration (in collaboration with Benoît Yvert; Perrin, 1996). He was also editor of the following publications: Dictionnaire des politiques culturelles en France depuis 1959 – Une exception française (Larousse, 2001), with Sophie de Sivry: Mémoires du monde – Cinq siècles d’histoires inédites et secrètes au Quai d’Orsay (Ed. de l’Iconoclaste, 2001), and Un siècle rebelle. Dictionnaire de la contestation au XXe siècle (Larousse, 1999)


2003PrixStoskopfBanquiersSECOND EMPIRE PRIZE

Nicolas STOSKOPF (ed.), Banquiers et Financiers parisiens, Paris, Éditions Picard
This biography of about one hundred entrepreneurs who, for the most part, worked during the Second Empire in the zone between Rue de la Chaussée-d’Antin and Rue du Faubourg-Poisonnières, plunges the reader into the heart of French 19th-century capitalism. It moves from beginnings during the Restoration, with the initial successes of James de Rothschild in Paris, to the foundation of the Caisse d’épargne and the insurance companies, state loans issued by a powerful bank in the making, continuing up to the bank crashes of the 1880s, which sealed the fate of the multi-function bank in France. The book also discusses the construction of the railways in France, the revolution in banking, the transformation of the urban landscape, the investments in mining and steel-making, and international trade, ranging wide in its geographical spread as far as the US, Russia, the Maghreb, Egypt, and Ottoman Turkey.

Edited by Nicolas Stoskopf, this study is the seventh volume in the collection entitled Les patrons du Second Empire (general editor Dominique Barjot) and the first in a series dedicated to Parisian entrepreneurs. It forms part of the vast programme of research launched by the Institut d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine (IHMC) of the CNRS.



Lisa et Joachim ZEITZ, Napoleons Medaillen, Michael Imhof Verlag
“The art of the medal is perhaps the most monumental of all the arts”… wrote Vivant Denon to Napoleon in November 1810.

Napoleon was very fond of medals and early on recognized their power to spread a message, and he was to make them a central pillar of his public relations campaign, immortalising his successes with a whole series of them.

In 1815, just before the end of Napoleon’s reign, Vivant Denon, director of the Musée Napoléon and of the medal mint, published a collection of 141 medals constituting the Emperor’s “histoire métallique.” This “history in metal” documents and glorifies not only Napoleon’s military career – from Italy to Hamburg, from Egypt to Madrid -, but also his civil accomplishments, ranging from the introduction of public vaccination to the building of transalpine roads. The best artists of the time were employed to create symbolic images for the medals. So as to enable collectors of napoleonica from far and near to order the medals Denon also published lists of them – arranged in chronological order of the event commemorated, with the title, size and metal of the pieces. One such extant list (a facsimile of which is given in the book) shows how a certain Mr. Palmer from London purchased an entire set in bronze as early as 16 August, 1815. This set, with its original custom made leather casing with eight drawers, subsequently found its way into the collection of Dr. Lothar Hardt, and it was using this collection that the expert coin photographer, Manfred Czastka, provided the excellent colour images for the book, which show the medals not only in their original size but also in threefold enlargement.

As Vivant Denon continued in his above-cited letter “Only medals bear witness to glory throughout the centuries.” As if in confirmation of this, it is remarkable to note that the Paris medal mint, housed on the bank of the Seine, is still striking Napoleon’s medals today.

The book was researched and written by a father/daughter team: Dr. Lisa Zeitz is an art correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in New York. Dr. Joachim Zeitz is an orthopaedic doctor in Bad Homburg and author of two books on medals from his native region, the former Grand Duchy of Baden.



Antoines DE CAUNES, Monsieur N.
1815. After the Hundred Days and his brief return to power, Napoleon, defeated, asked the British for asylum. But they treated him as a prisoner of war and sent him to Saint Helena, in the company of a group of followers, some faithful, others cynical. How could Napoleon, the man of all battles, the genius of military and political strategy, bear to accept this imprisonment on the high seas? What system of defence – or rather attack – would he adopt to escape the grasp of his jailers?
On Saint Helena, on an unreachable island chosen by his enemies, Napoleon fought a mysterious battle, his last and most important. The battle that history had never told…