This excerpt from a Prussian police proceeding from 6 May 1815 is indicative of the reaction of Prussian authorities to Napoleon’s return from exile. Here, a judge named Kleemann from the Saxonian town of Cönnern is being placed under investigation for supposed Francophilia (Franzosenfreundlichkeit) after associating with French prisoners of war.
While the unnamed writer acknowledges that the evidence is extremely flimsy, he proposes that the judge, who was known to be of a liberal political persuasion, should be replaced anyway. This pattern was repeated numerous times in what would subsequently become the Province of Saxony, and doubtless elsewhere too. Grounds for being charged with Franzosenfreundlichkeit included collaboration during the French occupation, sympathies with revolutionary ideology or, as in this case, mere contact with prisoners of war.
These investigations might be seen as evidence of Prussian officials’ concern at Napoleon’s return; equally, his return may simply have provided them with an opportunity to dispose of politically suspect public servants.
This research was completed with funding from the University of Warwick Undergraduate Research Support Scheme.