The Trial of
A Mock Trial for APEH
The purpose of this trial is to judge the actions of Napoleon Bonaparte. Was he a
great leader and patriot, or was he a power-hungry dictator? The year is 1815
and his last 100 days as a general have ended on the fields of Waterloo. What are
we to do with this man? Our task is to examine his life and produce a verdict on
the charge of "crimes against humanity," a charge later used against the Nazis. Be
careful, because the Congress of Vienna - which is sponsoring this trial - may not
be completely innocent!
THE CAST OF CHARACTERS/STUDENTS
The Judge: _________________________
The Lawyer(s) for the Quadruple Alliance: _________________________
The Lawyer(s) for the Defence: _________________________
The Court Clerk/Sheriff: _________________________
Witnesses for the Prosecution (representing the Quadruple
Prince Metternich of Austria: _________________________
Czar Alexander 1st of Russia: _________________________
Lord Castlereagh of Great Britain: _________________________
Prince Talleyrand of France: _________________________
The Duke of Wellington of Great Britain:_________________________
A Prussian Nationalist Soldier: _________________________
A Dutch Soldier who fought for Napoleon in Russia, but who fought against
Napoleon at Waterloo: _________________________
A British Merchant and Trader: _________________________
Family Members of soldiers killed by Napoleon’s armies (2)________________
Witnesses for Napoleon:
The Chief Justice of the French Court: ____________________________
A French School Teacher: ____________________________
A French Colonel who fought for Napoleon at Austerlitz: ____________________
Loyal, veteran French Soldiers (2): ____________________________
French Peasants (2): ____________________________
An Italian Nationalist: ____________________________
Preparation and Expectations For The Participants:
A. The chief responsibility of the judge and clerk/sheriff is to be familiar with
courtroom procedures. They will be responsible for conducting the trial and
making sure all participants are following proper legal procedure.
These two members must complete, before the trial, a minimum two-page
summary of their respective duties in a trial. A summary can be done by
each person, but it is recommended that the summary is completed jointly;
this summary should follow the suggested order of trial listed below. The
judge and clerk/sheriff are expected to cover what their characters will say
and how they will deal with lawyers and witnesses during the trial. You can
talk to the teacher for references about these duties.
This summary must be typed or neatly written; it will be distributed to the
rest of the class before the trial to help facilitate the smooth operation of the
B. The lawyers must
1. understand how each witness (their own or the hostile witnesses) will
contribute to their legal strategy.
2. Each legal team must complete an introductory speech which outlines:
the witnesses they will call in their favour; the weaknesses of the
opposing side’s case; and the major arguments of their own case.
3. They will also write a closing statement which: summarises the
arguments in favour of their case; explains the weaknesses of the
other side’s arguments and witnesses; and a recommendation on
sentencing. Lawyers should write this conclusion before the trial by
anticipating what will happen, but they should also leave room on the
conclusion to add details, which may emerge during the trial.
4. Finally, the lawyers will write up at least 6 questions for each of their
own witnesses which highlight their witnesses’ title and position,
experience regarding Napoleon, and their opinion about Napoleon.
They will need to share their questions with each witness, and reach a
consensus on the best questions. The lawyers will also need to create
two or three questions for their cross-examination of hostile witnesses.
These questions should put the witness on the defensive and reinforce
the arguments of the cross-examining lawyers.
C. Each witness must prepare a 200 to 300 word summary of his or her
character. The summary should include their character, upbringing, position,
general political beliefs and opinions toward Napoleon. Those witnesses
who are not specific historical characters may have to create much of their
character, as long as it is within reasonable limits and nothing inaccurate
about Napoleon is said. The witness must also create 6 to 10 likely questions
they would face from both legal teams. An appropriate answer for each
question will be required. These will be shared with the lawyers on their
Suggested Order For The Trial Of Napoleon Bonaparte
1. Opening the Trial:
1. The entry of the Judge.
2. The opening statement by the Clerk/Sheriff.
3. The entry of the prisoner.
2. Taking Pleas:
1. The introduction of the lawyers.
2. The reading of the charge against the accused.
3. The plea of the prisoner.
3. The Case for the Prosecution:
1. The opening statement of the prosecution lawyers.
2. The examination of the prosecution witnesses, with cross-examination
4. The Case for the Defence:
1. The opening statement of the defence lawyers.
2. The examination of the defence witnesses, with cross examination and
5. Summations by Counsel:
1. Defence Lawyers.
2. Prosecution Lawyers.
6. The Verdict:
1. The decision of the jury regarding guilt and sentencing.
7. Closing the Trial:
1. The exit of Napoleon and the Judge.
NOTES TO THE TEACHER:
1. Like any mock trial, many things will have to be improvised. Each witness,
for example, may have to create many elements of his or her character. As a
teacher, youíll have to decide for yourself about selecting roles, costuming,
timing, etc. This can be stressful, but it's also very creative!
2. You will need many resource books for this project. Ask your librarian well
ahead of starting time to pull all of the available books. A particularly good
resource, and one which helped me create this mock trial, is Charlie and
Cynthia Hou's The Riel Rebellion: A Biographical Approach (Lesson Aid
2072A). The Teacher's Guide (Lesson Aid 2072B), in particular, has some
excellent ideas on the roles of the Judge, the Clerk/Sheriff and the lawyers.
Another good legal resource is a Law 12 textbook, All About Law (3rd
edition). Chapter 7 is especially helpful with trial procedure. Incidentally,
even though this trial is supposedly set in 19th century Europe, the
courtroom procedures I've employed are from modern Canadian criminal
3. Preparation is very important; it can be tedious but it makes a world of
difference for the actual trial. You should read through the expectation and
suggested order pages with the entire class and make sure everyone knows
what to do. This and the library research may take 3 to 5 one-hour classes.
The trial and wrap-up should take 2 classes
4. I recommend that a very responsible and out-going student is selected as the
judge. You should also have strong students acting as lawyers. They will
have to be resourceful, thorough and be able to interact with others
(especially when creating questions). Finally, avoid hassles - don't have a
separate jury, because they tend not to do much. Let the whole class decide!