Ireland buys Napoleon family memorabilia

28th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

DUBLIN, Nov 28 (AFP) - The Irish government said Monday it was funding the purchase of papers, memorabilia and paintings of an historic family with close ties to France and its former emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

DUBLIN, Nov 28 (AFP) - The Irish government said Monday it was funding the purchase of papers, memorabilia and paintings of an historic family with close ties to France and its former emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Bonaparte Wyse Collection deals with the only Irish Catholic merchant family to retain their lands and religion from at least 1375 throughout the centuries of British colonial rule into the 21st century.

Describing it as an important collection for the nation, heritage minister John O'Donoghue said he was providing EUR 100,000 to help the Waterford Treasures Museum in the southeast of Ireland to buy it.

The museum was lent the collection by the family in 2001.

It was given first refusal when the collection came onto the market after the death of Olga Bonaparte Wyse in September.

One member of the family, Sir Thomas Wyse (1791-1862), was the second Catholic elected to the British parliament from Ireland.

He married Laetitia Bonaparte, Napoleon's niece.

O'Donoghue said an important part of the collection is the gold and jet mourning cross given by Napoleon's mother to the female members of the family on the emperor's death in 1821.

"This is the only one of the original 12 crosses known to survive.

"The collection also includes authenticated locks of the hair of the emperor and of his mother," O'Donoghue said.

One member of the family, William Charles Wyse, was aide-de-camp to General Charles de Gaulle, the French World War II leader and later president.

Part of the collection is a petition, dated 1691, to British king William III. Signed by a Thomas Wyse and five other merchants, it asks that the king keep his promise and not molest the Catholics of the city of Waterford.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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