Scene Arch of triumph
The day after Austerlitz (2ndDecember 1805), in his proclamation to his soldiers, Napoleon had written: "I will take you back to France. You will return to your homes only under triumphal arches".
But it was only by a decree of 18thFebruary 1806 that Napoleon officially decided to build an arch.
The architects Chalgrin and Raymond were commissioned to draw up the plans. These were clearly inspired by the Arch of Titus in Rome, thus recalling Napoleon's interest for imperial Rome.
After much hesitation as to the location of this work (Bastille, Concorde), the first stone was laid on 15thAugust 1806 (the Emperor's Day) on the Place de l'Etoile, which enhanced beautiful perspectives.
However, the construction site was chaotic, notably with the death of Chalgrin in 1811.
At the time of the fall of the Empire (1814), the Arch was only 19 metres high and its construction was stopped for about ten years.
In 1824, work was resumed under the impetus of Louis XVIII's government. The latter wished to reconcile the various political parties and eras. The Arc was dedicated not only to the Grande Armée but also to the French campaigns from 1792 to 1815.
In 1830, Louis-Philippe continued the work by extending the dedications to the Revolution. In 1836, the Arc de Triomphe was finally inaugurated, almost 30 years after the laying of the first stone.
In 1840, 400,000 people attended the return of Napoleon's ashes. The funeral and grandiose procession stopped under the Arc.
On the monument, the names of the commanders of the 1805 campaign (an idea first inspired by Napoleon) appear. This theme was extended with names of battles of the Empire and Revolution on the shields of the attic, and the piedroits.
Today, all the inscriptions engraved on the Arch pay tribute to the fallen and glorify the French armies from the Revolution to the conflicts of the 20th century. 660 surnames and 128 battle names are inscribed on the walls of the monument.