Napoleon lived like an emperor even in exile

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ELBA, Italy -- Napoleon's will to succeed even in exile and defeat has been revealed with the first full restoration of his two villas on the island of Elba.

The French despot was banished to the island, 12 miles off the [Tuscany] coast, in 1814 after abdicating following his defeat by Britain and her continental allies.

Lord Liverpool, the prime minister, said Napoleon's exile had hit the Corsican "as hard as one can, and in the most vulnerable place". He tried committing suicide but failed, while one witness described him as a "wild animal in a cell" in his first months on Elba.

However, his delusions of glory and grandeur were swiftly recreated. During his nine-month stay he declared himself emperor of the island and set about building roads, passing laws and redesigning his residences.

Now, a £1 million restoration project on his two villas has stripped back layers of paint to reveal astonishing frescoes hailing Napoleon's victories at the head of the French armies.

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