Forum on Napoleon (1999)

Edited by David Kammerling Smith

For historians of France, the year 1999 marked a transition.  One series of 200th anniversaries draws to a close and another series arrives.  Yet it would seem unlikely that the anniversaries beginning with and following 18 Brumaire would be celebrated with the same festive spirit as that exhibited in 1989.  One hardly could imagine the French National Orchestra performing Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony with the same passion as Jessie Norman’s rendition of La Marseillaise.  Nor would one expect that the anniversaries associated with Napoleon will prompt one of the United States’ foremost historians of France to produce two books critiquing the celebrations and the academic and historiographical battles fought alongside them, although one hesitates to underestimate Steven Kaplan’s prolific pen.

Nevertheless, over the course of the next decade plus, we can anticipate conferences and congresses that will shed light on the Napoleonic years.  It is in this spirit that H-France has brought together four scholars whose work has and continues to influence our understanding of the Napoleonic era:

Malcolm Crook, Keele University
Isser Woloch, Columbia University
Annie Jourdan, The University of Amsterdam
Howard Brown, Binghamton University (SUNY)

Each has written an original essay for this forum and prepared a response essay to the essays written by the other panelists.  The topics and approaches in the four original essays differ, and the panelists find areas of both agreement and disagreement with each other.  In larger terms, the goal in this forum is two fold.  First, it is hoped that research specialists in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras will find these essays provocative and insightful — as effective think-pieces rather than archival research.  And second, it is hoped that those whose research specialties lie elsewhere, and who often have little time to follow diverse historiographical debates, will find these short essays and the exchange which follows a useful and effective means to see some of the current issues and controversies about a topic of clear importance to the history of France.

Initial Essays:

The Myth of the 18 Brumaire
Malcolm Crook, Keele University

Why Napoleon?
Isser Woloch, Columbia University

Napoleon et Ses Images
Annie Jourdan, University of Amsterdam

Brumaire in Napoleonic Legend and Legacy
Howard G. Brown, Binghamton University (SUNY)

Response Essays:

Malcolm Crook

Isser Woloch

Annie Jourdan

Howard G. Brown

Further Responses to Napoleon Forum