First French Empire

The First French Empire, officially the French Republic,[lower-alpha 2] then the French Empire (French: Empire Français; Latin: Imperium Francicum) after 1809, also known as Napoleonic France, was the empire ruled by Napoleon Bonaparte, who established French hegemony over much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. It lasted from 18 May 1804 to 11 April 1814 and again briefly from 20 March 1815 to 7 July 1815.[7]

French Republic[1]
République Française

French Empire
Empire Français
Motto: Liberté, Ordre Public[2]
("Liberty, Public Order")
Anthem: Chant du départ
("Song of the Departure") (official)

Veillons au salut de l'Empire
("Let's ensure the salvation of the Empire") (unofficial)
The First French Empire at its greatest extent in 1812:
Common languagesFrench (official)
Latin (formal)
Catholic Church (State religion)
Judaism (Minority religion)
Napoleon I
Napoleon II (disputed)[lower-alpha 1]
Sénat conservateur
(until 1814)
Chamber of Peers
(from 22 April 1815 onward)
Corps législatif
(until 4 June 1814)
Chamber of Representatives
(from 22 April 1815 onward)
Historical eraFrench Revolutionary Wars
Napoleonic Wars
18 May 1804
 Coronation of Napoleon I
2 December 1804
7 July 1807
24 June 1812
11 April 1814
20 March – 7 July 1815
1812[4]2,100,000 km2 (810,000 sq mi)
44 million[5]
CurrencyFrench franc
ISO 3166 codeFR
Preceded by
Succeeded by
French First Republic
Kingdom of Holland
Ligurian Republic
Kingdom of France
S. Principality of the United Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
Grand Duchy of Tuscany
Principality of Elba

Although France had already established a colonial empire overseas since the early 17th century, the French state had remained a kingdom under the Bourbons and a republic after the French Revolution. Historians refer to Napoleon's regime as the First Empire to distinguish it from the restorationist Second Empire (1852–1870) ruled by his nephew Napoleon III. The First French Empire is considered by some to be a "Republican empire."[8]

On 18 May 1804, Napoleon was granted the title Emperor of the French (Empereur des Français, pronounced [ɑ̃.pʁœʁ de fʁɑ̃.sɛ]) by the French Sénat conservateur and was crowned on 2 December 1804,[9] signifying the end of the French Consulate and of the French First Republic. Despite his coronation, the empire continued to be called the "French Republic" until 1809. The French Empire achieved military supremacy in mainland Europe through notable victories in the War of the Third Coalition against Austria, Prussia, Russia, Britain and allied nations, notably at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805.[10] French dominance was reaffirmed during the War of the Fourth Coalition, at the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt in 1806 and the Battle of Friedland in 1807,[11] before Napoleon's final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

A series of wars, known collectively as the Napoleonic Wars, extended French influence to much of Western Europe and into Poland. At its height in 1812, the French Empire had 130 departments, ruled over 44 million subjects, maintained an extensive military presence in Germany, Italy, Spain, and Poland, and counted Austria and Prussia as nominal allies.[5] Early French victories exported many ideological features of the Revolution throughout Europe: the introduction of the Napoleonic Code throughout the continent increased legal equality, established jury systems and legalized divorce, and seigneurial dues and seigneurial justice were abolished, as were aristocratic privileges in all places except Poland.[12] France's defeat in 1814 (and then again in 1815), marked the end of the First French Empire and the beginning of the Bourbon Restoration.

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