Jacob had worked as librarian for Jérôme, Napoleon's youngest brother and king of Westphalia, in Kassel. Following the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813 German territories had been liberated from imperial troops. Now the anti-Napoleonic alliance was chasing the French emperor in his own country. On their way many crowned heads - among them the Austrian Emperor Franz, the Russian Tsar Alexander, and the Prussian King Wilhelm - and their armies were in town, a heavy burden for Freiburg. The poet and professor at Freiburg's university Johann Georg Jacobi however hailed the friendly invasion on his deathbed: Now I shall gladly die, for I am dying as a free German (Gern will ich nun sterben, denn ich sterbe als freier Deutscher).
Jacob Grimm had been nominated by his old and new ruler, the elector of Hesse, once Wilhelm had returned from his exile in Prague, legation councilor of a commission that was sent to Paris to track down art objects Jérôme fleeing Kassel had stolen from his residence Napoleonshöhe (now renamed Wilhelmshöhe). In fact, the Bonaparte kin had looted the museums in Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands and accumulated the objets d'art in the French capital. The most notorious theft from Germany was that of Johann Gottfried Schadow's Quadriga from top of the Gate of Brandenburg in 1806. The Prussian general Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher returned the four horses and the goddess of victory to Berlin in 1814.
|Contemporary political cartoon: Napoleon himself stealing the Quadriga|
|Restored Quadriga: Victoria displaying a laurel wreath |
surrounding the Iron Cross topped by the Prussian eagle
Their only hope is that they will return to Austrian rule and the Government of Baden is regarded as pressure and tyranny, taxes are monstrous ... and I heard reasonable people movingly complain how stepmotherly Carlsruhe is treating this province (Übrigens Stadt und Land (das Breisgau) noch herzöstreichisch, Kaiser Franz ist mit Wonne eingeholt worden. Bei seinem Einzug in die Stadt hatten die Bürger versucht, die kaiserliche Kutsche zu ziehen, und als er sich das Ziehen verbat und deswegen aus dem Wagen auf ein Pferd gestiegen war, sollen sie sich an das Pferd gebunden haben.
Auch ist ihre einzige Hoffnung, daß sie wieder zu Österreich kommen und die badische Regirung wird wie Druck und Tyrannei betrachtet, die Auflagen (Steuern) sind ungeheuer ..., und ich habe brave und vernünftige Leute ordentlich rührend klagen hören, wie stiefmütterlich man von Carlsruhe aus diese Provinz behandelt).
Red Baron is looking forward to reading the full text of Jacob Grimm's letter in the yearbook of the Breisgau Geschichtsverein being published this fall.