Stock Photo - Attempt to assassinate Napoleon, 24 December, 1800 ...
. The most serious - and very nearly successful - attempt on his life took place on Christmas Eve in 1800 when a massive bomb exploded near his carriage as he went to the opening night of Haydn's opera Creation. Royalist plotters had positioned a horse and wagon bearing a barrel filled with gunpowder and shrapnel on the Rue Saint-Nicaise and lit the fuse as Bonaparte's carriage neared.The speed of the vehicle - Bonaparte (1769-1821) had ordered his driver to go quickly because he did not want to be late to the opera - and the poor quality of the gunpowder led to the bomb exploding seconds after the First Consul had passed. An estimated 52 people were killed or wounded by the device - known as the Infernal Machine - including Bonaparte's stepdaughter Hortense Beauharnais, who was cut on the wrist by flying metal. The Royalist leader and chief planner, Georges Cadoudal (1771-1804), was captured and executed.
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