Author Topic: How tall was Napoleon  (Read 14860 times)

Roran

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Re: How tall was Napoleon
« Reply #15: March 15, 2014, 01:38:38 AM »
Disregarding the huge necro here:

During a recent lesson in my university by a guest professor we learned about a single regiment of the 'Chasseurs à Cheval' because of a sort of diary saved by the great-great grandfather of the professor.


In any case, recruitment for Napoleon's Grande Armée was done through drawing of lots of the commonfolk. If you had bad luck you'd be recruited. There were regulations as to who was and wasn't allowed t draw lots. In order to be eligible you had to be at least 21 years and not have a brother already in the army. (and some other details I can't remember)

Then, the recruits would be tested on physical condition at a recruitment center, where they were checked for any physical deficiences that'd prohibit combat. And they were measured. Any recruit shorter than 1.53m was immediately rejected. The shortest allowed recruits would join the infantry, the tallest would be sent towards the cavalry. The great great grandfather of our guest-professor was 1.72m, relatively tall, and was as a result sent to the light cavalry. (On an unrelated sidenote: of the 300 recruits that left Brabant with him, 15 returned, including our main character, hence the reason our guest-professor exists)

Now, to add perspective to this, and just because I like drama, about 1/3rd of the recruits was rejected for being too short. That'd mean the average lenght in that time would be somewhere around 1.60m - 1.65m , which'd mean Napoleon was a pretty tall guy.


Now I'm here wondering how I would have looked as a cuirassier, being 1.92m tall.


------------------------------------------


I'm not entirely sure about the age correctness, perhaps it only applied to the Brabantian recruits at that moment., as I found records of many younger soldiers. On the other hand, about soldier lenght, I found this:

Quote
The small but agile horses required shorter and lighter riders. Thus the hussars and chasseurs were the shorterst of all cavalrymen. The minimum height requirements were: for carabinier 179 cm, cuirassier 173 cm, dragoon 170 cm, and for the chasseur and hussar only 160 cm.

The actual average height of cavalrymen :
for 400 cuirassiers - heavy cavalry   
172.5cm
for 400 dragoons
168.0cm
for 300 chasseurs - light cavalry
167.0cm
for 600 hussars - light cavalry
165.0cm

Thus the average chasseur was 2 cm taller than the average hussar. However, the hussars more readily accepted the very tall and the very short (but physically strong) recruits than the chasseurs and dragoons. In terms of height the hussars were a mixed bag.
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« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 11:29:19 AM by Roran »

Golradir

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Re: How tall was Napoleon
« Reply #16: March 18, 2014, 03:43:27 PM »
Cool story rory, didn't know about that.


Both the English and French at the time of the Napoleonic War used different standards for an inch, I believe. It was something to do with that.
As far as I know, it was this. Atleast, so I've heard from my brother who studies history.

vonGenf

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Re: How tall was Napoleon
« Reply #17: March 18, 2014, 04:12:39 PM »
I never tire of linking to this practical chart that showcases how rational and useful imperial units are each time they are discussed. Note this is only for english units, of course, with each country (or city) having its own slightly different version, for improved practicality.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/English_length_units_graph.png
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Indirik

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Re: How tall was Napoleon
« Reply #18: March 18, 2014, 04:58:15 PM »
The exact length of any individual unit was also arbitrary, as well. Everyone used their own standard, not just from country to country, but from person to person. Napoleon's time was during the time when the French were experimenting with various units of measure, including things like decimal-based time systems. IIRC, they completely redefined their entire system of measure on a regular basis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_units_of_measurement

"The names of a many pre-metric units were reintroduced, but were redefined in terms of metric units. Thus the toise (fathom) was defined as being two metres with six pied (feet) making up one toise, twelve pouce (inches) making up one pied and twelve lignes making up one pouce. Likewise, the livre (pound) was defined as being 500 g, each livre comprising sixteen once and each once eight gros and the aune as 120 centimetres."

So, two meters was six feet, and one kilogram was two pounds. :P
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vonGenf

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Re: How tall was Napoleon
« Reply #19: March 18, 2014, 05:41:17 PM »
So, two meters was six feet, and one kilogram was two pounds. :P

It still is, informally. In markets I often see things like weighting 480g of fruits only to be told "Should I complete the pound?".
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Buffalkill

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Re: How tall was Napoleon
« Reply #20: March 19, 2014, 07:19:47 AM »
I never tire of linking to this practical chart that showcases how rational and useful imperial units are each time they are discussed. Note this is only for english units, of course, with each country (or city) having its own slightly different version, for improved practicality.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/English_length_units_graph.png


Nice. +1

Indirik

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Re: How tall was Napoleon
« Reply #21: March 19, 2014, 05:13:21 PM »
As odd as they seem, Empirical units are very practical for the purposes which they served. They were quite useful to the people that used them, at the time they were used.  If they weren't useful, they wouldn't have been used.

They were also not all used by the same people, for the same purpose. People who measure in points and picas are not going to use nautical miles for measuring the same things. For those same reasons, the relationship between the two units, although it can be defined, is irrelevant and useless.
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vonGenf

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Re: How tall was Napoleon
« Reply #22: March 19, 2014, 06:34:50 PM »
As odd as they seem, Empirical units are very practical for the purposes which they served. They were quite useful to the people that used them, at the time they were used.  If they weren't useful, they wouldn't have been used.

Actually, I agree with that. The metric system, on the other hand, was designed with universality in mind. It's quite easy to find an application where they are not ideal, but they can easily be translated back and forth between applications, and scales can be grasped more easily.
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Indirik

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Re: How tall was Napoleon
« Reply #23: March 19, 2014, 09:53:57 PM »
Metrics do make math and science easier. No question about it.
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Buffalkill

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Re: How tall was Napoleon
« Reply #24: March 20, 2014, 06:30:43 AM »
I guess one advantage of using feet and thumbs is that you have a built-in measuring stick.

Chenier

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Re: How tall was Napoleon
« Reply #25: March 20, 2014, 12:15:19 PM »
Metrics do make math and science easier. No question about it.

Hell yes. A measure of unit greater is 10 times greater. It's predictable.

How many inches in a foot? Uh... 12. How many of those in a yard? 3... How many of those in a mile? 1760...? Say, how much is an oz of honey? Uh, is that a weight measure, or a volume measure? Alright, so let's add up the following measures: 1½"+2'¾"+½"+...

If you grew up in it, you've probably learned it by heart over time. However, it's completely arbitrary and those who did not grow up in the system cannot anticipate how much the next unit of measure will represent. Using fractions also adds a level of complexity, especially for those not particularily skilled at mental calculations.

I hate the imperial system. Ask me how tall I am, though, and by force of habit I couldn't tell it to you in metric to save my life. :P
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Deprived_silhouette

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Re: How tall was Napoleon
« Reply #26: September 10, 2020, 07:48:18 AM »
Yeah, he was never short, it was just British propaganda that went way too seriously for a propaganda