2021 Année Napoléon > The Service Historique de la Défense (Historical Service of the French Army)

As part of the bicentenary of the death of Napoleon I in 1821, the SHD is planning several commemorative events.

Updated 24 December 2021.

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International colloquium > “The Napoleonic Wars in history: from 1815 to today, historiography and history of war”
30 November-1 December 2021
Amphithéâtre Austerlitz at the Hôtel National des Invalides.

International colloquium organised by the Service historique de la Défense (SHD), in partnership with the Fondation Napoléon, the Université Paris-I Panthéon Sorbonne and the Musée de l’Armée.

This colloquium aims to study the evolution of historiography on Napoleonic warfare over two centuries, as well as on Napoleonic thought or strategy (how concepts were forged), on the evolution of the way it is taught in military schools or more broadly through the contribution of role-playing games, on the evolution of its perception in painting, cinema, and through the object, and finally on the way in which the broadening of sources has influenced historiography over the past two centuries. Thinking, teaching and studying the Napoleonic Wars over the last two centuries: these are the issues at stake in these study days, which will bring together specialists in the period.

Full programme (in French)

Free entry subject to availability. Compulsory registration by email, please indicate the half-day(s) that you are interesed in ► shd-vincennes-conferences.resp.fct@intradef.gouv.fr. All participants will require a pass sanitaire (health pass) and a mask.

Study Day > “Contrôle et représentation du territoire” [Control and representation of the territory]
Spring 2022
Service historique de la Défense
Château de Vincennes
Details to be announced

Exhibition > “Les forteresses de l’Empereur. Napoléon et ses ingénieurs militaires dans l’Europe en guerre” [The Emperor’s fortresses. Napoleon and his military engineers in Europe at war]
16 February – 20 May 2022
Details to be announced



Study Day > « Contrôler, représenter et défendre le territoire à l’époque napoléonienne [Controlling, representing and defending the territory during the Napoleonic era] »
19 May 2022
Service historique de la Défense
Château de Vincennes
Les modalités d’accès ou d’inscription ainsi que le programme seront communiquées ultérieurement.

Nuits de la lecture 2021 [Reading Nights]: “Relire le monde” [Re-reading the world through the words of Napoleon’s soldiers]
21-24 January 2021

As part of the “Reading Nights” organised by the French Ministry of Culture, whose theme this year is “Re-reading the world”, the library of the Historical Service of French Army will offer a reading/re-reading of the world by Napoleon’s soldiers, based on testimonies or letters from the grognards, kept in the library’s collection.
Each of these “reading nights” had as its theme one of the Napoleonic Campaigns (Italy, Egypt, Russia, Germany). This exclusively digital content is online on a dedicated page on the SHD website: two audios (with an introduction) accompanied by a SHD treasure (notably from uniformological manuscripts or testimonies by grognards) will be available at the end of the Nights of Reading 2021.

Details of the readings:

Thursday 21 January – Theme : Italian Campaign

o   Lecture 1 : REINHARD Marcel, Avec Bonaparte en Italie, d’après les lettres inédites de son aide de camp Joseph Sulkowski, Paris, Hachette, 1946
o   Lecture 2 : DEMOULY Michel et TAURINES Patrick, Guillaume Alméras. Un Millavois, soldat d’Empire. 1803-1814, Millau, Association pour la promotion de l’histoire millavoise, 2013

Friday 22 January – Theme : Campaign of  Egypt

o   Lecture 1 : TORTEL Christian, CARLIER Patricia, Bonaparte de Toulon au Caire, d’après 19 lettres de François Bernoyer, témoin participant, chef de l’atelier d’habillement de l’Armée d’Orient [s.l.), éditions Armine-Ediculture, 1996
o   Lecture 2 : JOURQUIN Jacques, Journal du capitaine François dit le dromadaire d’Egypte, d’après le texte de l’édition originale établie par Charles Grolleau, tome 2, Paris, Tallandier, 1984

Saturday 23 January – Theme : Russian Campaign

o   Lecture 1 : BOUDON Jacques-Olivier, Lettres de la Campagne de Russie, 1812, Paris, Pierre de Taillac, 2012
o   Lecture 2 : JOURQUIN Jacques, Souvenirs du Mameluk Ali (Louis-Etienne Saint-Denis) sur la campagne de Russie en 1812, Paris, éditions SPM, 2012

Sunday 24 January – Theme : German Campaign

o   Lecture 1 : RILLIET Louis,  Journal d’un sous-lieutenant de cuirassiers, 1810-1814, présenté par Olivier Lapray, Bernard Giovanangeli, 2013
o   Lecture 2 : BOURACHOT Christophe (éd.), Baron Guillaume Peyrusse, En suivant Napoléon…Mémoires, 1809-1815, éditions AKFG, 2018


Other events at some of the SHD’s nine sites: workshops, teaching, European Heritage Days centres on the Napoleonic period, …

Château de Vincennes
Avenue de Paris, 94300 Vincennes
Téléphone : +33 (0)1 43 28 15 48

GENERAL Information

List of partners of “2021 Année Napoléon”.

Calendar of Events.

Follow the special Instagram account for “2021 Année Napoléon” events.

Follow the Fondation Napoléon’s Facebook page in English.

Follow the Fondation Napoléon on Twitter.

Consult the page of the partner publishers and their published or republished works
on the occasion of the bicentenary of Napoleon’s death.

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PrEsentation of the SHD, THE Service historique de la Défense

The French Army Historical Service (the SHD), keeper of the archives of the ministries in charge of military affairs, also has one of the richest specialist military libraries in France. It is also responsible for approving, listing and collecting elements of military symbolism (emblems and insignia) and contributing to work on the French army history .

The archive is a first-rate documentary resource; its collections (450 km of archives dating back to the 17th century, nearly one million inidividual items), represent a part of the Nation’s memory that the archivists, librarians, historians, scientific and technical staff of the SHD are working to preserve, transmit and share.

The Service historique de la Défense (SHD) is the heir to a long tradition that makes it one of the oldest national archive repositories., with its own specific structure and its holdings organised according to a complex system. For historians it provides details not only on the different aspects of the major conflicts that have shaped Europe and the world since the 17th century, but also on the main strategic and military issues of major international politics. For genealogists it provides sources that enable them to trace the careers of thousands of men and women who contributed to the defence of the country. As its name suggests, the Historical Service is not only a repository of archives but also a large library.

The SHD was founded on 1 January 2005 by grouping together the former army historical services. It is attached to the Directorate of Heritage, Memory and Archives (DPMA), one of the directorates of the General Secretariat for Administration (SGA) of the Ministry of the French Armed Forces. It is made up of three centres: the historical archive centre in Vincennes, the armament and civilian personnel archive centre in Châtellerault, the military personnel archive centre in Pau and the territorial network department at seven sites (Cherbourg, Brest, Lorient, Rochefort, Toulon, Caen and Le Blanc).

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