Nicknamed by his soldiers “le petit corporal” or “le petit tondu”, Napoleon measured five foot, two inches and three lines tall, equivalent to 1,686 metres. By today’s standards, he would be considered on the small side; however, this was not the case in his day. Then, the average height of a Frenchman was about 1.60 m. And infantry conscripts at the time were between 1.65 and 1.69 metres tall. Napoleon was therefore of average height for his time, a fact which paintings of him do not account for since he was always represented surrounded by generals and soldiers (the grenadiers of the guard were never less than 1,76 m) wearing tall hats with plumets. Neither, in his later years, would the Emperor’s expanding waistline have the effect of increasing his stature. It has to be said that his authority lay elsewhere. Napoleon knew how to dominate men without having to resort to wearing heel lifts.
Bullet Point #15- Was Napoleon small?
Author(s) : LENTZ Thierry
Each “Bullet Point” will confront a question related to the First Empire. My remarks are designed to form the basis for debate and, I hope, research.
(Thierry Lentz, July 2018, translation RY)