At the Congress of Châtillon, the allies draw up plans for France’s frontiers to be restored to those of 1791. Napoleon refuses this, despite advice to the contrary. In Paris Talleyrand and Fouché (the former head of police) are planning a coup against him; at last Napoleon sees through Talleyrand. In spite of Napoleon’s victories, morale in France is low and many towns and cities surrender without resistance. Paris is poorly defended and the royal household and friends retreat to Blois. Paris falls without a struggle. Roberts says there is no evidence ‘that Parisians were willing to burn down their city sooner than cede it to their enemies, as the Russians had burned Moscow.’ Why doesn’t that surprise me?
Talleyrand launches his coup and begins negotiating with the allies. The emperor is to be deposed and the Bourbon heir Louis XVIII declared king. Napoleon has the option of abdicating, which he does, after a failed suicide attempt. Under the terms of the agreement, he is to be given the island of Elba and an annual pension. Many of his troops remain loyal and some even shoot their officers. Roberts quotes de Gaulle saying that, ‘those he made suffer most, the soldiers, were the very ones who were most faithful to him.’ Napoleon sails for Elba, accompanied by a British officer, Sir Neil Campbell. He was appointed by Castlereagh, who told him that Napoleon was to have complete freedom on Elba. The allies now assemble at the Congress of Vienna, which is supposed to resolve all disagreements over territory and establish a permanent peace. They reckon without Napoleon.