King's College London
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The nearest run thing you ever saw: the Battle of Waterloo

Napoleon in power

Portrait of Napoleon in his coronation robe, holding a staffNapoleon I, Emperor of the FrenchBy 1802 Napoleon had instituted widespread reforms covering the legal and educational systems, the church and the economy. Meanwhile, a second successful military campaign in Italy culminated in the Treaties of Lunéville (1801) and Amiens (1802) which secured peace in Europe.

This combination of war, peace and reform brought the unity and stability to France that it so badly needed after years of political volatility. Thus, Napoleon was able successfully to consolidate his popularity and power, becoming first consul for life in a plebiscite of 1802 and Emperor in 1804. 

Napoleon’s governance in these capacities was characterised by the moulding of an increasingly centralised, hierarchical state, in which more and more of the decisions were taken by Napoleon alone, with the advice of fewer and fewer trusted experts. When required to justify this authoritarian regime Napoleon most often claimed it represented the best interests of the nation.

The image on display, from a painting by fashionable portrait artist Robert Lefevre (1755-1830), shows Napoleon in his coronation robe, and can be seen as an example of the glorified, magnificent image of himself, and of France, that Napoleon was keen to encourage.

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