Category: Books

Napoleon’s Buttons – The Disintegrating Tin Buttons

I just started reading Napoleon’s Buttons, a book I’m reading for school in 8th Grade. It’s about an interesting thing that happened to Napoleon’s Grand Armée, and that’s where the buttons come in. All the buttons on all the soldiers were made of tin, and when tin gets cold, it starts to disintegrate. This book says that all the buttons on the soldiers in the wintertime disintegrated, and that they all looked like they were “beggars wearing rags”. Now, no one knows if this is true, but I think not, as Wikipedia says “None of the many survivor’s tales mentions problems with buttons”. Although this tin disintegration, or “Tin Pest”, as officially called, is an interesting uh, phenomenon? I guess? , I doubt it actually happened. What I’m really wondering is what the 370 page book is going to tell me about it….

Tin Pest is a cool thing, I kinda want to witness it myself. Apparently, as Wikipedia says, a long time ago in Europe, tin pipe organs in the church started decomposing due to tin pest, and once started, the process only accelerated. I hope I’ll get to experiment one day with tin, because I will definitely try this!

Chaucer: The Franklin’s Tale

Once there was a franklin named Arveragus,who married a woman named Dorigen. They wanted to have equal status in the marriage, but they agreed in public, Averagus would make the decisions. Averagus leaves for Britain to seek fortune, leaving his wife in France. While he is gone, a man name Aurelius seeks to marry Dorigen, against her will.

He doesn’t stop bugging her, so she says if he can make ALL the rocks on the seashore disappear, she would marry him. Now he goes to a ‘magician’, and asks him to remove all the rocks. He consents, for 10,000 pounds. Aurelius agrees, and the magician takes him to the shoreline, where he ‘magically’ makes the rocks disappear, with the tide. Now Aurelius goes to Dorigen and tells her that he has made the rocks disappear. She is heartbroken at this, but in the next week, her husband comes home. She tells him the trouble, and he talks to Aurelius. Aurelius, seeing the love between them, decides to back off. The magician is told the story, and agrees to not hold Aurelius to the 10,000 pounds owed to him.

Chaucer: The Clerk’s Tale

Once there was a marquis, who lived in Italy. His name was Walter, and all the people loved him. They only wanted one thing of him, and that was that he should get himself a wife. He decided to go to one of the poorest men in town’s house. He asks to marry his daughter. The man replies that he couldn’t refuse if he wanted, but consents. They are married the next day. Now the woman that he married, Griselda, is very submissive and kind, knowing that she doesn’t deserve to live in the palace, and sees the whole thing as a privilege.


Walter decided to test his wife, to see how devoted she really is to him. When she has a daughter, he tells her he will have it killed. She submits, and gives him the baby. He tells one of his generals to take it to his sister and hide it there. Griselda is sad, but nonetheless, she submits to her husband and keeps her peace. 5 years later, she has a boy, and Walter does the same thing, telling her that he is going to kill the boy, and tells his general to take the boy to his sister.

His wife, again submitting to her husband, gives up her child. He decides to put his wife to one more test. He tells her he is re-marrying, and that she must prepare for his wedding. He brings his daughter and son, and says that he’s marrying his daughter. Right before it happens, he’s on the stage, and tells her that the whole thing was a trick, and that these are her children. She cries tears of joy, hugging and kissing her children, shortly before fainting. And that’s the end of the story. His daughter marries a rich prince, and his son becomes his successor