Introduction: Napoleonic Governance and the Integration of Europe

Martijn van der Burg*

*Corresponding author for this work

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


This study is concerned with the ways in which the present-day Netherlands and Northwest Germany were integrated into the Napoleonic Empire, by replacing local institutions and traditional governing practices with French ones. This process of running the Empire is referred to as Napoleonic governance. Traditionally, little attention was given to the dynamics of French rule in conquered Europe. Nationalistic tendencies long obstructed a neutral view of Napoleon’s treatment of conquered Europe, certainly when it came to the Dutch and Northwest German regions. It was assumed French reforms were accepted unconditionally by local populations. Recent research shows that in newly acquired lands, officials often had to proceed differently. However, the northern periphery of the Napoleonic Empire is not yet fully explored. The premise of this study is that a (trans)regional perspective can lead to new interpretations. Napoleonic governance is analyzed by distinguishing between the phases of conquest, incorporation, and integration. In a broader sense, the study aims to gain a better understanding of the difficulties that have been inherent to workings of the Napoleonic Empire.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNapoleonic Governance in the Netherlands and Northwest Germany
Subtitle of host publicationConquest, Incorporation, and Integration
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9783030666583
ISBN (Print)9783030666576
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

SeriesWar, Culture and Society, 1750-1850


  • Empire-building
  • Historiography
  • Napoleonic governance
  • Netherlands
  • Northwest Germany


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