On This Day in Napoleonic History – 22 June 1815

22Napoleon abdicates in favour of his son

The deposed Emperor wrote the following Proclamation to the French People upon his abdication: ‘Frenchmen! In commencing war for the national independence, I relied on the union of all efforts, of all wills and the concurrence of all national authorities. I had reason to hope for success and I braved all the declarations of the powers against me. Circumstances appear to me changed. I offer myself a sacrifice to the hatred of the enemies of France. May they prove sincere in their declarations and really have directed them only against my power. My political life is terminated, and I proclaim my son, under the title of Napoleon II, Emperor of the French. The present ministers will provisionally form the council of the Government. The interest which I take in my son induces me to invite the chambers to form, without delay, the regency by a law. Unite all for the public safety that you may continue an independent nation.’

Once Napoleon had abdicated, he remained calm, giving advice on the army positions and peace negotiation with the enemy. Joseph Fouché became the president of the provisional government on June 24th. MacDonald was appointed to command France’s armies. Lafayette was put in charge of the National Guard, with Oudinot as his second in command. Talleyrand became foreign minister for the fourth time.

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