The cult of Napoleon as the "man of
destiny" began during his lifetime. In fact, he had begun to cultivate it during
his first Italian campaign by systematically publicizing his victories. As first
consul and emperor, he had engaged the best writers and artists of France and
Europe to glorify his deeds and had contributed to the cult himself by the
elaborate ceremonies with which he celebrated his rule, picturing himself as the
architect of France's greatest glory. He maintained that he had preserved the
achievements of the Revolution in France and offered their benefits to Europe.
His goal, he said, was to found a European state-a "federation of free peoples."
Whatever the truth of this, he became the arch-hero of the French and a martyr
to the world. In 1840 his remains were returned to Paris at the request of King
Louis-Philippe and interred with great pomp and ceremony in the Invalides, where
they still lie.
commemorating the crowning of Napoleon
Return to Les Invalides page
People and Places