Louis Bonaparte’s Le Vrai Hollandais: A Tool of Cultural Propaganda

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Between 1806 and 1810, Napoleon’s younger brother Louis Bonaparte (1778–1846) reigned as King of Holland, a kingdom that encompassed the northern part of the present-day Netherlands.1 Unhappy with the Dutch commitment to the French imperial cause, Napoleon established the Kingdom of Holland by appointing his brother Louis as king on 5 June 1806. This move shocked the revolutionary Batavian Republic (a république sœur), which had been formed by the Netherlands in the previous decade.

Apart from political-theoretical objections to hereditary power, no historical precedent existed for the Kingdom of Holland. Following his ascension to the throne, Louis was not instantly accepted by the Batavian Republic and would go on to face issues of legitimacy throughout his entire reign.2 In this article, I will focus on an instrument of cultural propaganda which Louis used to assert his authority, namely the periodical Le Vrai Hollandais.

Louis Bonaparte’s policies cannot be separated from his family history. When Corsica declared formal secession from France in 1793, forcing the Bonapartes to flee, Louis was only fourteen years old and barely educated. Napoleon decided to raise Louis himself and train him as a soldier. Although Louis studied the philosophes and learned French, mathematics and geography from his brother, he never completed his education as he had to accompany Napoleon on his military campaigns in Italy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5–9
Number of pages5
JournalFrench Studies Bulletin
Issue number164
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2022


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