Can you recommend any good books on Napoleon’s legacy?

My son is working on an A-level project on the legacy of Napoleon in France. Can you recommend any books in French on this? J.B.

22 November 2017
By Oliver Rowland

The Emperor Napoleon had a remarkable impact (mainly for the good) on France, considering he spent so much time involved in wars. 

Many institutions set up under him – what he called his masses de granit (granite slabs) – are still going strong, including prefects, the Trésor Public, the légion d’honneur, the Conseil d’Etat, the Cour des Comptes, the courts, the gendarmerie... and even the official status of the Comédie Fran­çaise and a law protecting the savon de Marseille.

Here are three books which help to understand his achievements, recommended to us by le Souvenir Napoléonien, Europe’s largest Napoleonic organisation, which aims to make sure the importance of his period is not forgotten, especially by the young.

L’œuvre de paix de Napoléon, Alain Pigeard: explains his accomplishments in ‘civil’ life, with 200 sections in alphabetical order; it is described as clear and comprehensive, with plenty of interesting anecdotes.

Dictionnaire des institutions du Consulat et de l’Empire, Thierry Lentz : also detailed but accessible, is arranged as a dictionary, ranging across the institutions created or modernised under Napoleon.

For a lighter look at his legacy, aimed at young people, the society recommends: Napoléon expliqué à mes enfants, Jacques-Olivier Boudon. It addresses his legacy as part of a wide-ran­ging look at Napoleon – who he was and the mark he left on France, showing why he is still acclaimed by some people today and hated by others.

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
Moving to and Living in France Guide 2018
Featured Help Guide
164 pages of essential information covering a range of subjects to take you through the basics of the practical side of life in France. Ideal for people looking to move to France as well as those who are already here. The information has been researched by our journalists, who have all made the move here, and compiled with the help of experts.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now