Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

The Imperial Eagle


Bonaparte premier consul. 1800-02.  Dessiné d'après nature, par Chataignier., Digital ID 1642661, New York Public LibraryAt the dawn of the nineteenth century, one man’s name was on everyone’s lips. Napoleon Bonaparte had seized power in France with a coup, transforming himself into a living juggernaut. At first, he paid lip service to the Revolution, but there were many who were rightly suspicious of his motives. His time was the Romantic Era, when the cult of the individual first developed. This was the precursor to our contemporary world’s cult of the celebrity. Napoleon’s fame spread hope among those in Europe who were disillusioned with traditional monarchy. Even Beethoven worshipped at that shrine before becoming disenchanted with his hero. Napoleon’s grab for the imperial throne disappointed those who’d previously idolized him.    Bonaparte Premier Consul (tapisserie des Gobelins)., Digital ID 1167883, New York Public LibraryYet despite his attempt to control all things around him, just like King Louis XIV, the new Emperor was a failure at fashion. He lost his lankiness to the good life that came with being a ruler. A short man, he preferred breeches to trousers, although they didn’t suit his thickening form. His generals, known as Marshalls of France, made up for his shortcomings. They flaunted the most dandified extremes of dress, including horsehair plumes, scads of gilt braid, and brightly colored jackets. A number of English opponents would offer laconic remarks in their journals about how this made it so much easier to aim for them on the battlefield.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

My family actually owns a

My family actually owns a shield and two swords that were owned by Napoleon Bonaparte himself. I posted some close up photos and a short video on my blog in case you’re interested. Take care - Bob

Post new comment