First Empire of France

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The First French Empire at its hight in 1812.

The First Empire, or the Great Empire, was the empire ruled by Napoleon I. It was the dominant power in Europe for the first part of the 19th century. Its roots stretched back to the expansion started during the French Revolution and it officially began in 1804, when Napoleon officially became the emperor of France. Napoleon abdicated in 11 April 1814. The Empire was briefly restored during the Hundred Days period in 1815 until Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. It was followed by the restored monarchy of the House of Bourbon.


The territorial expansion of France began during the French Revolution in the 1790s. During this time "sister republics" were established in surrounding nations, and France also invaded and occupied the surrounding areas.[1] Napoleon led several of these invasions, and he was eventually crowned French emperor in 1804.[2]

The Grand Empire

The First Empire of France was centered on the actual empire, the lands legally belonging to France, surrounded by semi-independent satellite states and independent allies.[2]

The Empire reached its peak around the time of Napoleon's failed invasion of Russia in 1812.[3] Napoleon abdicated from the throne on April 11, 2014 and went into exile on the island of Elba only to take control of France again on March 20, 1815.[3] After his defeat in the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon abdicated on June 22, 1815 for the last time.[3] France's borders were mostly reverted to before the territorial expansion and the empire ended.[3]


  1. Sister Republics - France. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Campaigns and conquests, 1797-1807" (and section further down in article). Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Timeline of Napoleon's Empire (1798-1821). Retrieved October 26, 2016.

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