UK & World News
Napoleon Secret Coded Document Sells For £150k
A secret coded document containing Napoleon's order to blow up the Kremlin has sold at auction for 10 times its estimated presale price.
The Museum of Letters and Manuscripts in Paris said the purchase price was £151,000, including fees. The estimated price before the auction was £12,000.
Auctioneers at Fontainebleau Auction House in the city said the letter, dated October 20 1812, is unique.
The single line of numeric code - signed "Nap" in the emperor's hand - told Paris of his desperate attempt to win victory against the Russians.
It reads: "At three o'clock in the morning, on the 22nd I am going to blow up the Kremlin.
"My cavalry is in tatters, many horses are dying."
The Napoleon code was only used for top-secret letters when the French emperor was far from home and aimed to stop enemies from intercepting army orders.
His "Grand Army" - 600,000 men - entered Russia in June 1812 but was woefully unprepared for the harsh weather and Russian tactic of scorching ceded ground.
In September this year, the Kremlin held huge celebrations 200 years after Russia's victory over Napoleon, including a re-enactment of the Battle of Borodino - one of the most damaging clashes for Napoleon's troops.
The document was accompanied by a second decoded sheet.