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Farewell to the Old Guard Speech | Study Guide

Napoleon Bonaparte

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Course Hero. "Farewell to the Old Guard Speech Study Guide." December 1, 2019. Accessed November 30, 2022.


Course Hero, "Farewell to the Old Guard Speech Study Guide," December 1, 2019, accessed November 30, 2022,



Napoleon Bonaparte

Year Delivered



Primary Source


History, Speech

At a Glance

  • On May 18, 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) became emperor of France.
  • For the next decade Napoleon would wage war on other European nations in a quest to build France into a great empire.
  • Napoleon's downfall began with a disastrous campaign against Russia in 1812. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers died under his command.
  • Defeat at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 left Napoleon in a politically vulnerable position.
  • By 1814 Napoleon's European enemies had formed a powerful alliance against him, and a large part of the French people had turned against their leader.
  • In early April 1814, Napoleon abdicated, or stepped down, and was ordered into exile.
  • On April 20, 1814, Napoleon gathered his most loyal soldiers, the Old Guard, around him to bid them farewell.
  • Napoleon's brief speech to the Old Guard signals his acceptance of his defeat and of his fate in exile.
  • The speech highlights the glory of the Old Guard, also conveying the idea of Napoleon's own glory and greatness.


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