G – Patterns of integration and transregional dynamics in and across empires

Patterns of integration and exclusion in the Napoleonic Empire

Event Details

  • Date

    Saturday, 27 June - 8:30–10:30

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    G – Patterns of integration and transregional dynamics in and across empires
Convenor
  • Alan Forrest (University of York)
Chair
  • Evguenia Prusskaya (State Academic University for the Humanities)
Commentator
  • Matthias Middell (Leipzig University)
  • Megan Maruschke (Leipzig University)
Panelists
  • Andrey Mitrofanov (University for the Humanities, Moscow)
  • Alexander Tchoudinov (University for the Humanities, Moscow)
  • Alan Forrest (University of York)

Papers

  • Andrey Mitrofanov
    Resistance to integration and the unification of Italy in the Napoleonic era’

    Resistance to integration and the unification of Italy in the Napoleonic era’

    This paper examines the resistance of populations across the Italian states to the modernization that was imposed by France between 1800 and 1814 and the attempt to integrate Italian territories into a single European polity. It raises important questions. What was the principal trigger for resistance in the various regions of Italy? What forms did this resistance take? And how far did it succeed? The paper examines specific case studies of a resistance movement commonly known as the Insorgenze (in the Kingdom of Naples, the Papal States, the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Ligurian Republic), that throw light both on their common characteristics and on their more specific regional identities.
  • Alexander Tchoudinov
    The Christian minorities in French Egypt, 1798-1801: an exception to the usual order of things

    The Christian minorities in French Egypt, 1798-1801: an exception to the usual order of things

    Bonaparte, coming to Egypt, declared himself a friend of the Muslims. However, in fact, the occupation administration preferred to rely on the Christian minority: the Copts were engaged in collecting taxes and contributions, the Greek Bartolomeo supervised the police, Christian women brightened up the leisure of the French. The social status of Christians in occupied Egypt increased accordingly. Although Bonaparte, seeing the dissatisfaction of the Muslims, tried then to contain the growing ambitions of the Christian minority, the balance was already broken. Such breaking of the traditional order of things exposed Christians to the hatred of the Muslim population and led to their persecution after the departure of the French.
  • Alan Forrest
    Ethnic minorities, political pressure and the re-establishment of slavery in the French Caribbean

    Ethnic minorities, political pressure and the re-establishment of slavery in the French Caribbean

    In 1802 Napoleon sent an army to Saint-Domingue to reimpose French rule over its former colony and restore both slavery and the slave trade, which had been abolished under the Revolution in the face of invasion and insurrection. In France’s Caribbean colonies minorities had conflicting interests, and they were inevitably defined in terms of freedom and slavery, race and ethnicity. But why did Napoleon seek to restore slavery here or in neighbouring Guadeloupe? Was this part of a new geopolitical outlook, or as a recognition of the economic price of abolition? Or was he simply giving in to the demands of the white minority and their representatives in the Atlantic ports of France?

Abstract

Napoleon’s idea of Empire had much in common with modern colonialism. It had at its core a vision of a Greater France, a transnational empire which would be governed on common French principles and which would succeed where previous world empires, from Persia to Rome, had failed. Its guiding principle was service to the state. Napoleon declared himself unconcerned by a person’s past, his loyalties to kings or revolutions, provided only that he was now committed to serving the Empire. His political philosophy was integrationist; those who were prepared to serve could hope to be immediately integrated. The legacy of the Revolution extended thus far. But lying behind the political discourse of the Empire, other, often longstanding distinctions and prejudices can be detected, and some groups remained excluded, or at best were marginal to the imperial enterprise. In this panel we shall examine the patterns of integration and exclusion that became transparent during the Empire, drawing distinctions between those who could be treated as dependable citizens, to be entrusted with the duties that were expected of Frenchmen, and those who could not. Within Europe there were clear distinctions in the territories France annexed, seen most clearly, perhaps, in Italy, in the different treatment reserved for Naples and Milan. And beyond Europe the distinctions were only more glaring. Could the peoples France encountered in north Africa and the Middle East be adequately integrated, for instance, or were they condemned to be dismissed as an alien ‘other’, to be distrusted and colonized and firmly excluded from power? The role of minorities was often critical here, showing up the contrasts in Napoleon’s responses. In the presentations that follow, the issue of integration and exclusion is examined in contrasting contexts which illustrate its complexity and suggest that many different issues and forms of stereotyping, involving national sentiment, religious confession and questions of race and ethnicity – played their part in determining whether particular groups could be integrated into the Empire or risked exclusion and rejection.