Coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon is crowned Emperor of the French at Notre-Dam on December 2, 1804, painting by Jacques-Louis David
Napoleon is crowned Emperor of the French at Notre-Dam on December 2, 1804, painting by Jacques-Louis David

Historical Context

By the time of his coronation in 1804 Napoleon was on the way to becoming the dominant figure in Europe. In the previous year he had ushered in the Napoleonic Wars, which would bring France to dominate the continent, and in the previous decade had reorganized the French Republic and declared it an Empire.

Napoleon was crowned as Emperor of the French at a lavish ceremony in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Various dignitaries attended, including Pope Pius VII. Described as a "masterminded piece of modern propaganda", Napoleon wanted to strengthen his new monarchy, nobility and future dynasty.

The new Emperor would last another ten years before being forced to abdicate when the Sixth Coalition of European nations defeated his army. He would briefly rise in 1815 for the famous Hundred Days after escaping captivity on the island of Elba, before being decisively defeated at the Battle of Waterloo and exiled to the South Atlantic island of St Helena. Napoleon's Empire had fallen.

Photo Info


Photographer: Jacques-Louis David
Location taken: Paris, France

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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  • 1804-12-02 General Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned Emperor of the French at the Notre Dame de Paris in a ceremony officiated by Pope Pius VII

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