Is it true that Napoleon was short?

Napoleon's name is associated with the French Revolution, his rapid career, talented commanders, brilliant victories, the Battle of Borodino, the burning of Moscow, the Battle of Waterloo, Saint Helena, arsenic... But perhaps the most important feature of the emperor, according to the prevailing belief, was his short stature, which he was supposedly terribly shy.

The fact that the Emperor of France was short seems irrefutable and is not even questioned - after all, immediately after his death a French doctor measured Napoleon's height and wrote down: 5 feet and 2 inches. If converted to centimeters, Napoleon's height was 157 cm. Not much of a match for the title of Emperor and conqueror of Europe. But what if this is a mistake? After all, Napoleon's height was measured, as already mentioned, by a French physician, which means he recorded it in French feet and inches. But now no one uses such units of measurement - the basis is taken English foot (0.3048 m), which is less than the French (0.3248 m). If we count the emperor's height in French feet, it would be 168 cm. Considering that this height was recorded for the emperor at the age of 51, it could be argued that when he was young he might have been 170 cm.

"Already better, but still short. He can't even reach the handrail on the bus." - the modern man would think, and he'd be wrong. For over the past two centuries, the average person's height has steadily increased. For example, at the end of the 18th century, it was 165cm.  It turns out that Napoleon could even be considered tall among his contemporaries!

But many witnesses claimed that the Corsican had a short stature. There are several explanations for this. First, the proportionately large size of his head made Napoleon appear shorter than he really was. Also, the emperor showed up in public surrounded by tall, strong-armed guards, compared to which any man would have seemed short. Another reason why Napoleon seemed short was... the fashion of Paris. Tall hats, which increased the height of their wearers, were considered the most fashionable in that era, whereas Napoleon preferred his famous low-cut hat.

The enemy propaganda played no small role in shaping people's image of Napoleon, who quickly seized upon rumors and began to present the Corsican as a restless dwarf.


You must be logged in to post a comment.