Franz, the duke of Reichstadt, called L’Aiglon, Na-poleon’s son, a weak and idealistic youth. He dreams of returning to France as emperor, but he is in delicate health. He plans an escape from his ever-present guards, but his plot is discovered, and he is stopped while trying to get away. He realizes that he is not strong enough or brave enough to make the sacrifices necessary to become another Napoleon. Death from pulmonary tuberculosis soon overcomes him.
Prince Metternich, the Austrian statesman who is Franz’s official jailer. He makes it his business to keep Franz closely guarded at all times and discovers his plan to escape. He provides tutors for Franz who never speak Napoleon’s name in any of their lessons. He taunts Franz by pointing out to him how unlike his father he is.
Seraphin Flambeau (say-rah-FA[N]-flahm-BOH), an old soldier in Napoleon’s army. He encourages Franz in his dreams of returning to France and helps him in his plan to escape. When the plan is discovered, he kills himself rather than face a firing squad.
Marie-Louise, the mother of Franz and daughter of the Austrian emperor. She does not greatly regret her husband’s death and would be very happy in the Austrian court if Franz were not so grief-stricken.
Countess Camerata (ka-mehr-AH-tuh), Franz’s cousin, who appears in Austria as a fitter from Paris. She is an accomplice in the plot for Franz’s escape. She wears a uniform exactly like his to a fancy dress ball and, when she and Franz exchange cloaks, the guards follow her instead of him, temporarily allowing him to escape.
The archduchess, Franz’s aunt, who makes Franz promise that he will ask the emperor to allow him to go back to France before he makes any plans with his friends.
Emperor Franz, Franz’s grandfather, who, when Franz appears in a disguise at court and asks permission to go to France, grants it to him without realizing who Franz is.
Thérèse de Lorget
Thérèse de Lorget (teh-REHZ deh lohr-ZHAY), Franz’s beloved and a French exile.
Fanny Elssler, a dancer who helps in Franz’s escape plot.
Count Sedlinsky, who is in charge of the police guard that spies on Franz.