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The Napoléon-Year 2021

Napoléon - former Emperor of the French - died on May 5th, 1821. The bicentennial of his death is commemorated in France, where 2021 is declared the Year of Napoléon.
The Napoléon-Year 2021

Emperor Napoléon
Photo: Wikipedia

To commemorate the event, several cultural activities have been set up, including presentations and concerts. At the same time, a fierce debate is taking place. Is it to commemorate the Emperor or to commemorate the Empire? Is it acceptable to commemorate a person who opposed the women's rights introduced during the Revolution and who - as First Consul - legalized slavery? The latter happened on May 20th, 1802.


The previous day, the First Consul had instituted a new civilian and military order, the Legion of Honour, after the system of orders had been abolished after the Revolution. The Legion of Honour has since survived all the various forms of government in France and remains the most prestigious order of the country. The Legion of Honour served as a model for the institution of orders in many countries. In Denmark, King Frederik VI reformed the Order of Dannebrog in 1808, inspired by the Legion of Honour.


As King of Italy, Emperor Napoléon instituted the Order of the Iron Crown on June 5th, 1805 - probably to get support for the new kingdom from the elite. Without going into details, the Order of the Iron Crown later became an Austrian order. Finally, on October 18th, 1811 in Amsterdam, Napoléon instituted the Imperial order of the Reunion. It was meant to replace the Order of the Union, instituted by Napoléon's brother Louis as King of Holland. The Order of the Reunion was also meant to limit the number of awards of the Legion of Honour.