Yale Fetes Napoleon at Bicentennial of his Coronation

The French department and Whitney Humanities Center of Yale will hold an international conference December 3-4 to commemorate the bicentennial of the coronation of Napoleon, which took place at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on December 2, 1804.

Titled “Napoleon’s Legacies: 1804-2004,” the conference will gather eminent scholars from diverse disciplines to examine the lasting cultural, socio-political and legal impact of the French Emperor from a global perspective.

Revered as an enlightened statesman and reviled as a ruthless conqueror, Napoleon I left a legacy stretching beyond the boundaries of his empire, which endures to this day. The Napoleonic Code enforcing ideals of the French Revolution has influenced legal systems throughout the world. The standardized system of education Napoleon established has been a model for democratic societies. His granting full equality and freedom to Jews is an historic milestone of religious tolerance. The “Empire Style,” which has come back in fashion several times since the Napoleonic era, is still visible in furniture, public monuments and the layout of major cities-notably, Washington, D.C.

Participants in the conference include experts in the fields of literature, law, music, history and art from France, the UK and Canada, as well as the United States. The two days of panel discussions and related events will be centered around specific themes: “Napoleon’s Legacies in European History and Law,” “Napoleon, Colonialism and Slavery,” “Napoleon and French Literature,” “Napoleon and the Visual Arts” and “The Making of the Napoleon Legend.”

An exhibition in conjunction with the conference will be on display in Sterling Memorial Library, 120 High Street, from late November through the end of January. Drawing on collections within Yale’s library system as well as the Yale University Art Gallery Numismatic Collection, the display illuminates Napoleon’s contributions to military history and theory; French politics; law and administration; exploration and science; and the arts, literature and culture. It also explores the cult of Napoleon.

The conference, which is free and open to the public, will take place at the Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall Street. To find out more, contact Agnes Bolton at (203) 432-4900. For a full schedule of events, visit the website http://www.yale.edu/french/Napoleon.htm

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345