The Death of an EraEdit
"It is with great sadness today that this publication reports the death of the most monumental figure in European Civilization. Yesterday, at his home in Paris, Caesar Napoleon I passed into the arms of the Heavenly Father at the age of 66. Born on August 15th, 1769, to a Corsican family of minor nobility, Caesar, christened at birth as Napoleone di Buonaparte, attended the famed École Militaire in Paris. After serving a short time in the French Royal Navy, Napoleon became more interested in artillery, and from there out, his story is well known by all the world."
-Lyons Gazette, January 5th, 1835
"At his death, he was comforted by his wife, Her Imperial Highness, Caesarina Marie Louise, his son, Emperor Napoleon of Spain, his younger brother Jerome, several of his closest private friends, and his dear friend French Prime Minister Michel Ney. The cause of his death is not yet confirmed, but it is widely assumed that it was a combination of bronchitis, stomach ulcers, and a heart condition." -Imperial Times (Paris), January 5th, 1835
"The French Ministry of Public Affairs states that, due to his declining condition being well known as of late, other nations already had sent ambassadors to give their best to the Imperial Family during this time of sorrow. England's King Edward was, ironically, the first to send such an emissary."
-Rheinbund Allgemeine Zeitung (Confederation of the Rhine General Newspaper), January 7th, 1835
"The French Embassy in Copenhagen claims Napoleon of Spain, "L'Aiglon," is to take the French Crown next month. There is much excitement amidst the sorrow as to how the 24 year-old Caesar Napoleon II will rule. Speculation is also rampant that the young monarch will form an official union between France and Spain."
-Berlingske Tidende (Berling's Times) (Copenhagen), January 11th, 1835
"Rumors swirl of assassination by poison being the cause of Caesar Napoleon I's death. While these have not been at all substantiated, this version of events allegedly originated with a servant at the Imperial Palace." -London Times, January 13th, 1835
"Accusations of the Corsican being poisoned has interrupted the planned coronation festivities (scheduled for February 18th), and Napoleon II is apparently taking these theories seriously enough to be fearing for his own life. Security for the coronation has been tripled." -Berlin Zeitung, January 20th, 1835
As seen in the newspaper excerpts above, there was a witch-hunt going on in Paris in mid-January to stamp out an alleged conspiracy to take the lives of the Imperial Family. The coroners were reporting that Napoleon I had showed symptoms of arsenic poisoning. Questions immediately arose as to who would do such a thing, with many suspecting a member of his inner circle, perhaps a general or marshal wanting to attempt a coup. Servants at the Imperial Palace were thoroughly interrogated, and a few were held as suspects. Chief among them was 31 year-old former Grand Army drummer Wilhelm Lukas Hofmeister, one of Caesar's chief butlers and servants.
On January 21st, Hofmeister, an ethnic Hessian, was arrested by Paris Police. They gutted his small house on the Imperial Palace grounds for evidence and found nothing too incriminating. Just as it looked like he would walk free, a sharp-eyed constable spotted a shovel next to the house had fresh dirt and footprints around it. The officer grabbed the shovel, followed the prints, and discovered recently disturbed earth. He started digging and quickly came up with three bottles of arsenic, several medical books on poison, and a large tome entitled "The Anarchist Way," by Meinrad Beutel, a prominent riot-inciter in the Confederation of the Rhine. By the next day, all known anarchists in Paris had been imprisoned. Ethnic Hessians were also put under surveillance by the secret police. Several dozen suspected anarchists were lynched and murdered across Europe as the news spread. Even in countries rival to France, the murder of a monarch was unsettling.
Hofmeister refused to confess, discuss possible members of a cell, or even talk to authorities, knowing he would be executed anyway. The police swiftly turned to torture, but still, they could not get any information. Jourdain Roux, lead investigator into the plot, wrote in his diary on January 24th, "The Hessian cretin refuses to break. He withstands every measure we use against him. He must break. I must break him. The Empire is not safe until he talks." The next day, following brutal torture, Hofmeister died in custody. But while he was dying, he screamed something deliriously about "rooftops."
Immediatelt, the French Army started a massive sweep of all the rooftops in the city.