Button Talk: L’Aiglon

The French word “aiglon” means eaglet.

Once, a long time ago, before you were born, there was a man named Napoleon—oh yeah, that Napoleon.  You can read about his armies and  battles and exiles and the role he played in the history of France.  Quite fascinating.  Read about him from the French point of view—then the English point of view–and then the Russian point of view . . .  become a history buff!

The symbol of France was a splendid coat of arms featuring the Eagle and the Bee.  Napoleon was often referred to in battle as The Eagle.

Today I want to show you a special button I bought at the Titusville Button Show (see my post on Titusville Button Show May 20th . . .)

L’Aiglon ©booksandbuttons

Napoleon was married to Josephine–you knew that.  But together they didn’t produce an heir to the throne.  Later N. married Marie-Louise and on March 20th, 1811 a baby boy was born.  They named him Napoléon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte.

He was adored by the entire country of France and became known as L’Aiglon—-the little eaglet.  Cute.

Years later, Edmond Rostand, yes, the author born on April 1st and known for writing  Cyrano de Bergerac, met the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt.  They were a twosome for a while.  Rostand had always been fascinated by the whole idea of young Napoleon and the “eaglet” idea—-and whipped up a PLAY called L’Aiglon for Sarah to star in.

Well, big success!  I mean big success.  (Always say things twice you want people to remember.)  It was huge in France and then in the United States.  Savvy merchants sold souvenirs to commemorate the play, L’Aiglon, and Sarah Bernhardt.  Among the souvenirs were BUTTONS!  And I have one!

It is brass and “white metal” with a raised design—and see the eagle on the edge?  And here is a photo of the back:

reverse of L’Aiglon button ©booksandbuttons

because I know you’re wondering if it’s backmarked (isn’t).  It’s about the size of a 50 cent piece—remember those?

And, the current National Button Bulletin has a great article by Carole Adrian about Sarah Bernhardt, Edmond Rostand and L’Aiglon.  It’s in the May 2012 issue.  Fun.

I’m going to keep my eye out for other things Napoleon-related.  Maybe I’ll get out my copy (well, I have a couple) of War and Peace and leave the page open so that Napoleon’s name is showing—just for a day or two.  When was HIS birthday?  (Homework.)

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