Napoleon's trousers tell secret of how he died

4th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

GENEVA, May 3 (AFP) - Even the death of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Corsican who rose from obscurity to become emperor of France, has been the stuff of legend. But Swiss researchers are now debunking the story of the French icon's poisoning.

GENEVA, May 3 (AFP) - Even the death of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Corsican who rose from obscurity to become emperor of France, has been the stuff of legend. But Swiss researchers are now debunking the story of the French icon's poisoning.

At the end of his life Napoleon suffered from stomach cancer. Those who argue that he was poisoned say before his death he had an abnormal weight gain for someone with cancer.  

The Swiss study, however, compared nine paris of trousers worn by Napoleon both before and after his exile on the island of Saint Helena.

They concluded that the emperor lost more than 11 kilos (24 pounds) during the last five months of his life.  

When Napoleon died on May 5, 1821, he weighed 75.7 kilos at a height of 1.67 meters (5 feet 5 inches).  

According to the study, there is no dispute that the French emperor suffered from a malignant gastric tumor in 1820. His health deteriorated progressively with bleeding in his digestive tract complicating the cancer.  

As for the presence of arsenic in his hair, which was the source of the poisoning theory, the Swiss scientists say it was due to the winemakers' custom at that time of drying their casks and basins with arsenic.  

Napoleon was said to be an amateur vintner.  

The theories don't end there. An American researcher Steven Karch last year put the blame for Napoleon's death on his doctors. To relieve the imperial stomach pains, they gave Napoleon strong enemas which led to a loss of potassium and triggered fatal cardiac problems.  

The Swiss study was led by Alessandro Lugli, a specialist in anatomical pathology at the university hospital in Basel in collaboration with the institute of medical history at the University of Zurich. 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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