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La Belle Poule

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La Belle Poule

Postby shipstamps » Sun Nov 23, 2008 5:31 pm

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Under the command of Prince de Joinville this French frigate carried the body of Napoleon Bonaparte from St Helena in 1840 and returned it to Paris. This poignant event was captured on a set of stamps issued in 1990 (the 150th Anniversary).
SG776 St Helena Philatelic
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Re: La Belle Poule

Postby aukepalmhof » Fri May 03, 2013 3:56 am

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St Helena released a set of four stamps on 15 December 1990 to mark the 150th anniversary of the removal of Napoleon’s body from the island.
Three of the stamps feature the boats and ships used to bring the coffin back to France.
Six years after his exile to St Helena in 1815 Napoleon died. In his will, he asked that his remains be interred “on the banks of the Seine amidst the people I loved so well”,
Despite his wishes, he was buried in an isolated grave on the island, with a tombstone that not even bear his name. From the moment of his exile, a legend took place shape which intensified after his death.
In 1831, his statue was restored in the Place Vendome. And then in 1840 when the political atmosphere in both England and France was particularly favourable, the French Prime Minister Guizot arranged to have the body of Napoleon brought back to France, where it was placed under the great dome of the Invalides in Paris, fulfilling what Napoleon had stipulated in his will.
The Prince de Joinville, son of King Louis Philippe, sailed to St Helena aboard the frigate La BELLE POULE to bring Napoleon’s body back to France, and arrived there on 8 October 1840.
The people of St Helena opposed the removal because it represented this island’s only claim to fame, realizing that the removal could not be prevented, they organized a large funeral procession, and had a special hearse built.

On 15 October 1840, after the exhumation of the body, it was placed in a coffin made up of six separate coffins of tin, mahogany, two of lead, ebony and oak each inside the other. An elaborately decorated hearse carried the coffin while the British 91st Regiment marched on each side with the arms reversed. A pall of purple velvet, embroidered with gold bees, bordered with ermine, and with an “N” at each corner, crowned and embossed with a silver cross, was brought from France and covered the coffin.
The 13p shows the funeral procession arriving at Jamestown Wharf at 5.00 p.m.. The soldiers removed the enormous coffin, weighing 1,200 kilos, to an awaiting launch. The shore batteries boomed a salute while the military band struck up funeral music. A huge French tricolour flag covered the launch, while another silk flag embroidered with a regal “N” by the ladies of the island floated from its masts. Two dinghies from La BELLE POULE are seen at the dock and in the far background are five ships in the harbour, which are depicted in close-up in the 20p value.
The Prince de Joinville took the tiller of the launch, and with no sound but that of 20 oars striking the water, began the trip to La BELLE POULE.
Two dinghies from La FAVORITE lighted the way for the launch under the setting sun. Four dinghies from La BELLE POULA, two on either side of the launch, acted as escort, while two dinghies from L’ORESTE closed the rear, their sailors bareheaded and with crepe bands on their arms.
La BELLE POULE and La FAVORITE sailed off on 18 October, while on the return voyage to France, La POULE heard rumors that war had broken out between England and France. Fearing the worst, Prince de Joinville ordered unneeded furnishings thrown overboard and partitions between cabins removed to lighten the ship, and threatened to sink her rather than let Napoleon’s remains be taken from France. But all went well, and La BELLE POULE reached the port of Cherbourg on 30 November 1840.
This city owed its port and arsenal to Napoleon, so he was much loved there.
Within a week, 100,000 people came to kneel beside the catafalque supporting the coffin.
At 08.00 a.m. on 8 December 1840, a mass was said aboard La BELLE POULE. Pouring rain disturbed the ceremony which was witnessed by the city’s population massed at the docks. So many came that there was not enough room and some rented small boats to view the ceremony from the harbor. A thousand guns from all forts and ships in the harbor saluted the Emperor’s return to his native land. With the aid of a sloping bridge, the catafalque was lowered onto the quarter deck of the paddlesteamer La NORMANDIE, and was protected from the inclement weather by a dome supported 12 colums and covered in embroidered velvet. The transfer of the coffin from La BELLE POULE to La NORMADIE is depicted on the 38p.
There were lamps and a gilt cross on the altar forward of the mizzen-mast which was enhanced by silver eagles. The flag made by the ladies of St Helena floated from the main-mast.
La NORMADIE carried the coffin as far as the mouth of the River Seine, where it was transferred to the small ship La DARADE 3, which would take it to Courbevoie, a suburb of Paris. On 15 December 1840 Napoleon’s remains were transferred with great ceremony to the Invalides in Paris, where he still rest today.

The St Helena stamps were designed after images in the album “Retour de France des depouilles mortelles de Napoleon” the album was printed in Paris in 1840.
Built as a wooden first class frigate at the Navy Yard at Cherbourg for the French Navy.
01 April 1828 Laid down.
26 March 1834 Launched as the La BELLE POULE one of the Surveillante class.
Displacement 2,558 tons, dim. 54 x 14.50 x 6.59m, 3.80m, draught.
Armament 32 – 30 pdr. 4 – 8 pdr Paixhans and 24 – 30 pdr carronades.
Crew 513.
06 June 1839 commissioned.

The class was designed by M.F. Boucher.
The La BELLE POULE was named after the daughter of noble family Paule de Viguier from the Languedoc.
The girl of 15 years was chosen by the people of Toulouse to speak out the welcome speech on the arrival of King Francis I in the town in 1533.
The King charmed by her beauty did give her the name La Belle Paule, and by the different dialects of that time, the name was quickly corrupted to La Belle Poule (the beautiful chick).
Paula de Viguier baroness of Fontenilles died in 1610 of the old age of 90 years.
The BELLE-POULE was an Surveillante class 60-gun first rank frigate of the French Navy. She achieved fame for bringing the remains of Napoléon from Saint Helena back to France, in what became known as the Retour des cendres.
Although construction was started in 1828, the BELLE-POULE was launched only in 1834. She was one of the first ships to be built in a covered shipyard, which allowed the builders to delay construction while the political and financial circumstances were not favourable. Her design was inspired by the USS CONSTITUTION cruiser class. She was commissioned in July 1835, and displayed very good sailing properties.
On 1 August 1839, under command of the Prince of Joinville, third son of King Louis-Philippe, she left Cherbourg to join the Eastern fleet of Admiral Lalande. She was back in Toulon on 21 December 1839.
On 27 July 1840, she set sail with special equipment for Saint Helena to bring back the remains of Napoleon. She had been painted black for the occasion. On 30 September, she arrived back in Cherbourg, where, on 8 December, the Emperor's remains were transferred to the steamship NORMANDIE . The NORMANDIE transported the remains to Le Havre and up the Seine to Rouen, for further transport to Paris.
The transfer of the remains from BELLE-POULE to NORMANDIE in the road of Cherbourg was executed in much ceremony, and became a subject of choice for marine and romantic painters.
In 1841, the BELLE-POULE cruised along the Canadian coast, landing in Halifax, and visited New York, where the Prince of Joinville visited the President of the USA. The BELLE POULE was back in Toulon on 14 July 1842.
In 1844, Joinville, then vice-admiral, was sent to Morocco to support the action of General Thomas Robert Bugeaud in Algeria, with the SUFFREN, the JEMMAPES, the TRITON, and the frigate BELLE-POULE. Tanger came under attack on 6 August, and Mogador was taken on15 August.
Afterwards, the BELLE-POULE cruised the Indian Ocean, where a cyclone left her with serious damage. She was repaired in Sainte-Marie de Madagascar, and returned to Brest.
She took part in the Crimean War, mostly as a transport; she stayed in the East until August 1856, and sailed back to Toulon on 1 September.
In 1859, she was used to transport ammunition, and was decommissioned on 19 March 1861. She was still used to store gunpowder until 1888.
Equatorial Guinea 1976 1pta sg?, scottMi903. St Helena 1990 20p 38p sg583/84, scott546/47. 1998 £2 sg776, scott? St Pierre & Miquelon 1968 15fr sg452, scott380.
Comores 2008 3000 fc sg?, scott?

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