Conquest and Incorporation: Pays Conquis or Pays Réunies?

Martijn van der Burg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This chapter investigates how the (nominally) independent states in the Netherlands and Northwest Germany were slowly but surely seized by French troops, and subsequently incorporated by imperial decree. The conquest and incorporation of the northern lands brought about radical political changes, as well as dilemmas. How were new territories to be fitted in: as dependencies taken by force (pays conquis), or as new departments on equal footing (pays réunies)? And to which extent did ‘on equal footing’ mean eradicating regional diversity within the Empire? Whether uniform structures were imposed too promptly, or not, was contested. The Emperor sent confidants northbound, to investigate existing conditions. Vice versa, Northerners visited Paris, to exert influence on the status of their projected departments. For Dutch and German dignitaries it was of the utmost importance to acknowledge Napoleon’s droit de conquête, while lobbying for an integration form that did justice to local circumstances. Eventually, both areas were given a full status within the Empire, taking into account national peculiarities to a certain extent, but only as long as that did not harm the interests of Old France.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNapoleonic Governance in the Netherlands and Northwest Germany
Subtitle of host publicationConquest, Incorporation, and Integration
EditorsMartijn van der Burg
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-66658-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-66657-6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Publication series

SeriesWar, Culture and Society, 1750-1850


  • Conquest
  • Imperialism
  • Incorporation
  • Right of war


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