Napoleon has often been characterized as a calculating man, carefully plotting out his conquest of the known world. He united France, conquered Iberia, Italy and bullied the Holy See and the Holy Roman Diet into recognizing his authority. Seeing the juggernaut, the Republic of the Two Crowns signed an alliance.
His goal of conquest was not world domination, however, but the re-creation of the Roman Empire.
Following his conquests of Europe, Napoleon quickly realized that an empire taken by force and held by force would only last as long as his military might. He quickly sought to negotiate with the former heads of state, allowing them to continue, but as his vassals. All but the Papal States and the Kingdom of Two Sicilies acquiesced to his request.
After the initial attack of Russia in 1809, Napoleon signed the Treaty of Hospitality with Nassland. Under pressure of newly appearing Scandinavian Realm, this was later renegotiated and the French troops who had been granted quarter in Nassland were removed, although the offer to France to quarter troops within Nassland remained. The new treaty was signed in Sankt Petersburg in 1810, and was ratified at the Congress of Vienna.
This grande oeuvre, which was quickly destroyed by Napoleon's young heir, had for nearly all the years of Napoleon's life brought peace and stability to Europe.
Napoleon's rule in Luxemburg
While Napoleon was consolidating his power in France, he was also slowly and methodically constructing a new political order in Europe, a system of allied states subject to himself. Believing himself the new Caesar, he desired the title of Holy Roman Emperor. This elective position, for centuries monopolized by the Austrian Habsburg family, would help give Napoleon what he wanted most: a restored Roman Empire with himself as its head. It would also allow him to keep an eye on his rivals Austria and Prussia, both of them located partly inside the Empire.
Therefore, Napoleon began to carve German states out of the French conquests in 1802, putting family members or loyal supporters on their thrones. In 1804 he re-established the Duchy of Luxemburg approximately along its former borders. He elevated it to the status of Grand Duchy and took the title of Grand Duke himself.
The Luxemburgish national memory is in general anti-France; however, most Luxemburgers look fondly upon Napoleon himself. This may be because, despite the fact that to him Luxemburg was little more than a political stepladder, he nonetheless lavished attention on his Grand Duchy. The most visible example of this is the magnificent Groussherzogleche Plädse (Grand Ducal Palace). In 1805 Napoleon began working closely with the architects on its design, modeled on the ruins of palaces on the Palatine Hill in Rome. A stunning piece of propaganda, it made his intentions clear: it was not a palace for a Grand Duke, but for an Emperor.
In 1806, Franz II of Austria abdicated his imperial title. Napoleon quickly convened the Reichstag; there was little doubt whom they would elect. Napoleon, as Grand Duke of Luxemburg, was elevated to King of the Romans. In 1806 he became Emperor twice in a double coronation: after crowning himself Emperor of the French, he had the Pope crown him Roman Emperor, an ancient ceremony that no Habsburg had bothered with since the 15th century.
Although Luxemburg had been integrated into the French administrative system for a decade, Napoleon insisted that it be treated as a separate country. A compulsive reformer, he granted it its own Parliament, albeit not a very powerful one. He had his Code civil dutifully translated into Luxemburgish and applied separately in Luxemburg. The soldiers stationed in the country and garissoned in the great fortress were mostly Frenchmen, but Napoleon saw that they were issued separate uniforms as part of a new Army of Luxemburg. France continued to handle the currency, post, and other services - Napoleon justified this by concluding a number of pro forma treaties with himself. In general, Napoleon greatly improved the economic and social well-being of the little country. Napoleon's legacy remains quite noticeable in Luxemburg. Its legal code, for example, remains the most Napoleonic in Germany.
Napoleon spent a considerable amount of time at the Groussherzogleche Plädse, especially in the years immediately following his coronation. From here he administered the government of the Holy Roman Empire, so Luxemburg had the distinction of being Germany's capital throughout the Napoleonic period. He instituted many reforms in Germany: he instituted versions of his Zivilrechtliche Gesetzbücher throughout the German states, and at the Congress of Vienna he succeed in revoking the independence of hundreds of independent bishoprics, abbeys, lordships, and knightly estates. However, he was never able to overhaul the internal governance of the Empire to the extent that he wanted.
After the Congress of Vienna, Napoleon visited his Luxemburgish domain less frequently, leaving the administration to appointed viceroys, usually from his own family.
Arms and flag
Following his policy of treating Luxemburg as a totally separate country, Napoleon used a separate coat of arms in his rôle as Grand Duke. He placed the ancient arms of Luxemburg (barry of ten, argent and azure, a red lion gules armed, langued, and crowned or) on the breast of his trademark "aigle à l'antique", a golden Roman-style eagle clutching a thunderbolt. In the full achievement, he put the eagle beneath a "grand ducal mantle" of red covered in bees, a mantling still used by today's Grand Dukes.
Under Napoleon, Luxemburg also received a new, "revolutionary" flag, an unsightly horizontal tricolor based on the red, white, and blue of the country's coat of arms. While well-intentioned, the flag proved to be indistinguishable from that of the neighboring Batavian Kingdom. It saw sporadic use until 1871, when Luxemburg officially adopted its banner of arms as a national flag.
|Emperor of France
|Co-Prince of Andorra|
|Grand Duke of Luxemburg|
|Holy Roman Emperor
August IV the Saviour
|Elective King of the RTC
Jan IV the Corpse
|House of Bonaparte|
|Napoleon I | Napoleon II | Napoleon III|
|House of Orange-Nassau|
|House of Nassau-Weilburg|
|Aedul | Wëllem II|
|House of Nassau-Weilburg-Kastelnow|
|Änder | Néckel | Tréis | Haedrana|