The legacy of Napoleon - the empire after the emperor - is a well-established field of study that has seen a flourishing of contributions investigating the enduring impact of Napoleonic administrative reforms and the vital fascination of the Napoleonic imaginary. Scholars have also underlined that the Napoleonic empire was a ‘collective enterprise’, thus opening the study of its legacy outside French borders and beyond Napoleon (as a historical and exceptional figure) himself. It is well known that already in his lifetime Napoleon was a true celebrity, so significant that he became a mythical figure for subsequent generations: however, the role of economic discourse in the myth and reality of Bonaparte and Bonapartism has not yet been investigated. This chapter analyses Napoleon’s attempts to enforce economic reforms as a positive counterpart to his continental blockade and to the loss of Haiti. At the core of such economic projects was Bonaparte’s system of free ports (i.e., port cities without duties and characterized by a higher degree of social liberties) in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. How these attempts were discussed by his contemporaries and how then these very same ideas were reshaped in different post-Napoleonic European and Latin American contexts reveal the spatial pervasiveness (and temporal survival) of Napoleon’s image as a transnational authority and celebrity. Up until mid-nineteenth century Napoleon’s name would become the justifying or damning principle on which to build or destroy economic reforms able to redesign urban spaces and transnational trade. Celebrity and myth turned economic debates into mainstream discourses.

Free Ports, Free Trade, Freedom: Napoleon’s Manifold Legacy in Institutions and Images

Giulia Delogu
2023-01-01

Abstract

The legacy of Napoleon - the empire after the emperor - is a well-established field of study that has seen a flourishing of contributions investigating the enduring impact of Napoleonic administrative reforms and the vital fascination of the Napoleonic imaginary. Scholars have also underlined that the Napoleonic empire was a ‘collective enterprise’, thus opening the study of its legacy outside French borders and beyond Napoleon (as a historical and exceptional figure) himself. It is well known that already in his lifetime Napoleon was a true celebrity, so significant that he became a mythical figure for subsequent generations: however, the role of economic discourse in the myth and reality of Bonaparte and Bonapartism has not yet been investigated. This chapter analyses Napoleon’s attempts to enforce economic reforms as a positive counterpart to his continental blockade and to the loss of Haiti. At the core of such economic projects was Bonaparte’s system of free ports (i.e., port cities without duties and characterized by a higher degree of social liberties) in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. How these attempts were discussed by his contemporaries and how then these very same ideas were reshaped in different post-Napoleonic European and Latin American contexts reveal the spatial pervasiveness (and temporal survival) of Napoleon’s image as a transnational authority and celebrity. Up until mid-nineteenth century Napoleon’s name would become the justifying or damning principle on which to build or destroy economic reforms able to redesign urban spaces and transnational trade. Celebrity and myth turned economic debates into mainstream discourses.
From the Napoleonic Empire to the Age of Empire. Empire after the Emperor
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5011622
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