Research Grants 2008


  • Florence LE BARS:The French and the Archaeology of the Kingdom of Naples during the decennio francese (1806-1815): the example of ancient ceramic discoveries
    PhD thesis supervised by Agnès Rouveret and Carlo Gasparri, Paris X Nanterre and Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II

    In 2008, Naples is currently commemorating the bicentenary of the arrival of Joachim and Caroline Murat in the city. French presence between 1806 and 1815 is not remembered as oppressive but rather as a period when their city was the capital of one of the most flourishing kingdoms in the southern Mediterranean. It was also a state that underwent modernisation, a process that was driven by reforms inspired by Napoleon and France, and that blew away the feudal traditions that until then had dominated society. Among the many areas reformed by Napoleon’s family, the preservation of heritage and archaeology have received very little study from French and Italian researchers. And yet Joachim and Caroline Murat (and before them, Joseph Bonaparte) were extremely aware of the immense historical heritage that came with the Neapolitan crown. The new sovereigns had some of the greatest French and Neapolitan scholars in their entourage, and they established one of the most innovative archaeological policies in Europe. The aim of this thesis is to study the practical details of this policy and above all the reconstitution of the intellectual ties that existed between Paris and Naples from 1806 to 1815, thus making it possible to understand better the cultural context of the period. Archaeological discoveries, in particular, antique vases and their iconography, played a major role not only in the development of our knowledge of antiquity, but also in the formation of society’s liking for antiquity during the period. This thesis on the history of archaeology between 1806 and 1815 will thus complement our vision of the First Empire and its cultural history, revealing Joseph Bonaparte and the Murats as informed art-lovers.

  • Fabien MENANT: The “députés” of the Corps Législatif during the Consulate and the Empire 1799-1815
    PhD thesis supervised by Jacques-Olivier Boudon, Paris IV Sorbonne

    The Corps Législatif has long been seen as the poor relation of the Napoleonic institutions. Indeed it was thought of as an institution manned seemingly by “tired unknowns” and dismissed as a “corps des muets” (“the house of mutes”). How could an institution that held only the power to vote on laws but not to discuss them have had any influence on government in the period 1799 to 1815? This institution thus remains today one of the least-studied and least-understood of French parliamentary history. Its interest however is two-fold, both juridical and social. This yearly meeting of three-hundred notables (whose mission was to represent the Nation) is of key importance for the understanding of the creation of the idea of imperial ‘notability’. The history of the Corps Législatif is that of an alliance established in Brumaire Year VIII between Bonaparte and the notables. The 1,476 ‘députés’ who sat on the Corps Législatif represent an excellent cross-section of imperial society and as such give a window on the makeup of imperial elites encouraged by Napoleon. The ‘notables’ saw their appointment to this assembly as recognition of their economic and social power. The aim of this thesis is to attempt to show the many ways in which the Corps legislative was the precursor of the assemblies of the early 19th century. In his attempt to reduce the influence of the assemblies, Napoleon unintentionally contributed to the emergence of the political personnel of the Parliamentary Monarchy. Though the last of the revolutionary assemblies, the Corps Législatif was in fact the first French assembly of notables.

  • Michel ROUCAUD: Operational military intelligence during the Consulate and the Empire (1799-1805)
    PhD thesis supervised by Bernard Gainot, Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne

    The present thesis aims to give an assessment of French military intelligence, in it operational sense, during the Consulate and Empire. Was it badly organised, based on personal initiative and conducted by non-specialists? Or was it conducted by well-briefed men, working within a structured framework? The principal sections will deal with intelligence gathering, the men and their methods, and how the intelligence was transmitted, by which bodies the intelligence was interpreted, and who made the final decisions. The principal sources used will be, on the one hand, the archives of the Service Historique de la Défense (Série C, archives des opérations du Consulat ; Sous-séries 1M, mémoires et reconnaissances, archives du génie, places françaises et places étrangères) and, on the other hand, the Paris Archives Nationales (Sous-série AF IV, Secrétairerie impériale et O2, Maison de l’empereur).


  • Xavier MAUDUIT: The ‘maison du prince-président’ and the ‘maison de l’empereur’ 1848-1870
    PhD thesis supervised by Christophe Charle, Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne

    During the Second Empire, the last institutionalised court of France came into being. Under the emperor Napoleon III it was a sumptuous affair, taking on the image of a ‘fête impériale’, which served not only to reinforce criticisms emanating from the regime’s opponents, but also feed the public’s fascination and feeling of nostalgia. In a society where power and the sacred were so closely linked, physical proximity to the head of state conferred an undeniable prestige. Thus it was that what became known as the imperial court grew up around the emperor, populated by the men and women close to him. In order to bring order to this imperial court ‘populace’, a tradition associated with previous monarchies was reinvented: the ‘maison du souverain’. Napoleon III’s ‘maison de l’empereur’, which had its roots in the ‘maison du prince-président’, was at the heart of imperial power. It was also an administrative tool whose task it was to lend legitimacy to the regime by imbuing the pomp of the court with an image of power, with the goal of captivating the people and attracting the elites. The ‘maison’ differed from the imperial court in that it comprised two distinct entities. The first was founded on prestige, with honours and grand dignitaries, such as grand aumônier, grand chambellan, grand maréchal du palais, grand maître des ceremonies, grand veneur and grand écuyer. The second was founded on domesticity and the personnel of the ‘maison’: thousands of men and women in the service of the imperial glory. After 1870, and unlike the imperial court, the ‘maison’ of Napoleon III was not seen as archaic. Having, in effect, descended from the royal ‘maisons’, it had successfully cemented its role in presenting an image of power, of which the Third Republic would later take advantage.

  • Michaël VOTTERO: Genre painting in France during the Second Empire and the initial years of the Third Republic (1852-1878)
    PhD thesis supervised by Barthélémy Jobert, Paris IV Sorbonne

    The Second Empire coincided with a moment of important transformation and combination in pictorial categories at the Salon. Historical painting became rare and was replaced more and more by genre scenes. Opinion was thus divided between the decadence of the Ecole française and the glory of contemporary creation. The genre scene, as an evocation of daily life, was linked to the trend for realism with its taste for the anecdotic and the picturesque. These works, traditionally considered ‘minor’, were ‘ennobled’ by state-purchases in 1848, and then by purchases made by the imperial couple, and such major patrons bear eloquent witness to the public’s passion for amusing, moving and sometimes edifying scenes. Genre scene painters, influenced as they were by contemporary social sciences, political reforms and literature, gave a new vision of daily life. For many critics the genre scene, since it was a true reflection of its time, was the example par excellence of Second Empire art, the only medium capable of preserving for posterity the image of the period. Since the painters of genre scenes had freed themselves from the constraints of history and of religion, they had greater freedom in tackling the pictorial technique, and indeed, were to revolutionise it just as impressionists did with their representations of everyday life. Furthermore, the genre scene of the Second Empire was not only as a reflection of period tastes but also evidence for the commercialisation of the art world; in fact the art business was enjoying an unprecedented boom. The close links between the genre painting and the regime under which it experienced its greatest success can also help to explain the reaction that follows 1870 and the French defeat. Historical painting re-emerged and the ‘easy’ subjects that dominated the previous regime were abandoned. This thesis thus aims to rehabilitate the works of the genre scene that have been forgotten, but which serve to help us to understand the taste of a period, that of the Second Empire.


  • Stéphane FAUDAIS: Adolphe Niel (1802-1869). A Maréchal de France and his struggle against the illusion of a ‘victorious’ France
    PhD thesis supervised by Hervé Coutau-Bégarie, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE), Paris-Sorbonne

    There is no “Niel legend”. His name is only known because of the eponymous law. The considerable amount of work he performed as Minister of War resulted in a double defeat, one which was both dramatic and paradoxical. On the one hand, it was as a result of the vote on the Niel Law that France believed herself ready to repel an attack; and on the other, he died in 1869, on the eve of war. And yet he was not lacking in military success; in deed he was the Second Empire’s most active Marshal, having participated in the most military campaigns. However he was well aware that the “small victories” won by the French expeditionary forces in Italy and the Crimea gave but an illusory picture of the army’s real capacities, both material and moral. As a graduate of the École Polytechnique in Paris, an engineer and a siege specialist, Niel was not in the traditional and hieratic mould of the French officer, particularly in terms of his command style and his interest in culture. A man of letters, a keen painter and a practising Catholic, he became close to Emperor Napoleon III through their shared belief in the notion of ‘innovation’. The key question is thus: if Niel had not died in 1869, would France have won the war in 1870? A priori, it would seem not. Niel had not had the time necessary to “storm the Bastilles” of the status quo and entrenched opinion. The modern army, symbolised by the machine gun and camouflage uniform of which Niel was an advocate, found in him its forerunner.

  • Raphaël LAHLOU: “The Abbatuccis: a Corsican political and military family in the wake of the Bonapartes (1750-1880)”
    PhD thesis supervised by Jacques-Olivier Boudon, Paris IV Sorbonne

    This thesis is a study of the Abbatucci family. It is divided into three parts. The first part covers the chronological period 1750/1794 and studies (in three sections) the career of Jacques-Pierre Abbatucci (1724-1813), a French Paolist general. Section one recounts the years up to the first break between Paoli and the Abbatucci family (1763). Section two describes the period up to the aftermath of the battle of Ponte Novo. And section three deals with the epoch of struggle against the British alongside the Bonaparte family, with whom they had been close allies for many years. In the second part, the thesis recounts the life of the family from the end of the Revolution up to 1830. It is centred on the sons of Jacques-Pierre Abbatucci. The eldest was Don-Jacques-Pierre-Pascal-Nicolas Abbatucci (1765-1851), father of Napoleon III’s minister. He is little known but he took part in certain Revolutionary events, was an important Napoleonic diplomat and played a significant role both during 18 Brumaire and at Waterloo alongside Jérôme and his Westphalians. He also supported the Napoleonids in exile and played an active part in the crisis of 1830. The final part covers the period 1831-1880 and is centred on the Second Empire and its conquest and exercise of national power. Here are studied in detail the works and actions of Napoleon III’s Justice Minister, Jacques-Pierre-Charles Abbatucci (1791-1857) and two of his sons, namely: Jean-Charles (d. 1885), député and Councillor of State during the Second Empire and afterwards; and Paul-Séverin (d. 1888), member of the Corps législatif). Also considered is the career of their brother, division general Antoine Abbatucci (d. 1878).