The Best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: The Chevalier de Trelern.
De Trélern, Chevalier. The Chevalier de Trélern was created by “Jean d’Agraives,” the pseudonym of Frédéric Causse, and appeared in the French pulp L’Aviateur de Bonaparte #1-22 (1926). In the late 18th century the Chevalier de Trélern is a brilliant, patriotic French inventor. Although he is an émigré, living in Austria, he is devoted to Napoleon’s cause, and so creates for Napoleon a flying machine, the Vélivole, a propeller-driven dirigible. With the help of Vélivole Napoleon conquers most of Europe. De Trélern’s activities attract the hostile attention of Austria, specifically the “Sept de Prique,” Austria’s top spy. The Sept’s pursuit of de Trélern is eventually foiled by the French policeman Jourdain, who reveals that the Sept’s superior is actually the Vicomte D’Erlande, a foul, wicked Fantômas-like genius who also inspired the Comte d’Antraigues to betray the Treaty of Tilsit to the British cabinet.
French steampunk from 1926. Pretty cool, eh?