Napoleon and the British

TitleNapoleon and the British
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsSemmel, Stuart
Number of Pages354
PublisherYale University Press
CityNew Haven, CT

What did Napoleon Bonaparte mean to the British people? This engaging book reconstructs the role that the French leader played in the British political, cultural and religious imagination in the early nineteenth century. Denounced by many as a tyrant or monster, Napoleon nevertheless had sympathizers in Britain. Stuart Semmel explores the ways in which the British used Napoleon to think about their own history, identity, and destiny. Many attacked Napoleon, but worried that the British national character might not be adequate for the task of defeating him. Others - radicals and reformers - used the Napoleonic example to criticize the British constitution. After his surrender to British forces, the imperial captive was portrayed by some as an Everyman whose treatment at the hands of authorities served as a test of the liberties of the British people themselves. Semmel mines a wide array of sources, from political pamphlets and astrological almanacs to caricatures and sonnets. The book uncovers a host of neglected journalists and pamphleteers, casts canonical Romantic writers in a new light and reveals surprising corners of late Hanoverian politics and culture.

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