Annie Jourdan (Ed.): Louis Bonaparte, roi de Hollande (Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland)

2010jourdanlouisLouis Napoleon was, for the greater part of his youth, an obedient brother in awe of his more famous sibling. His unhappy relationship with the brilliant but superficial Hortense de Beauharnais simply reinforced Louis’ rather uninspiring image given to him by posterity’s extremely harsh critique of the Bonaparte family. Opposite the great Napoleon in all his genius and glory Louis the Melancholic certainly cuts a decidedly sad figure. The most passionate period of his life – his appointment to the Dutch throne by an emperor desperate to impose his system on Europe and defeat the British might – has almost been forgotten.

Named to the throne in spring 1806, Louis overcame his natural character to show himself a true Bonaparte. Much like his older brother, he was authoritarian – even autocratic -, a tireless worker, was of an inquisitive and enlightened disposition and sought to know, control and do everything. But Napoleon did not mean for Holland to be independent. Torn between his fraternal obligations and his duties as sovereign, Louis rallied the Dutch public to Napoleon’s regime and became known as a “good king”, attentive to his subjects’ needs.

About the editor: Annie Jourdan is an associate professor in European Studies at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. Specialist in the history of the Revolution and the First Empire, she has published a number of works, including notably Napoléon. Héros, imperator, mécène (Aubier, 1998), L’Empire de Napoléon (Flammarion, 2009), Mythes et légendes de Napoléon (Privat, 2004) and La Revolution : une exception française ? (Flammarion, 2004).

Paris: Editions of the Fondation Napoléon – Nouveau Monde Editions, 2010, Series Biographies, 510 pages.

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