First French Empire

empire of Napoleon I of France (1804–1815)

The First French Empire[1][2], also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France. It was the main power of most of continental Europe during the early 19th century.

French Empire [1][2]
Empire Français
1804–1814, 1815
Anthem: Chant du Départ[3]
"Song of the Departure"
The French First Empire in 1812 (green), with its client states in light green
The French First Empire in 1812 (green), with its client states in light green
Common languagesFrench
Roman Catholicism
• 1804–1814/1815
Napoleon I
• 1815
Napoleon II[4]
Corps législatif
Historical eraNapoleonic Wars
18 May 1804
2 December 1804
7 July 1807
24 June 1812
11 April 1814
20 March – 7 July 1815
1812[5]3,000,000 km2 (1,200,000 sq mi)
• 1812
CurrencyFrench Franc
ISO 3166 codeFR
Preceded by
Succeeded by
French First Republic
Holy Roman Empire
Kingdom of Holland
Ligurian Republic
Kingdom of Spain
Kingdom of France
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
Neutral Moresnet
Kingdom of Sardinia
Austrian Empire
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Grand Duchy of Tuscany
Kingdom of Spain
Today part of Andorra
  Vatican City  Montenegro



Napoleon became Emperor of the French on 18 May 1804. He was crowned Emperor on 2 December 1804. This ended the time of the French Consulate. He won early military victories in the War of the Third Coalition against Austria, Prussia, Russia, Portugal, and allied nations. The Treaty of Tilsit in July 1807 ended two years of bloodshed on the European continent.

The next wars, known as the Napoleonic Wars, grew France over much of Western Europe and into Poland. At its biggest in 1812, the French Empire had 130 départements, ruled over 90 million people, and had a large military in Germany, Italy, Spain, and the Duchy of Warsaw.[6] The introduction of the Napoleonic Code through the continent increased legal equality, made jury systems, and legalized divorce.[7] Napoleon placed relatives on the thrones of several European countries. He gave many noble titles, most of which went away after the empire fell.

Napoleon abdicated in 11 April 1814. The Empire was briefly brought back during the Hundred Days period in 1815 until Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. It was followed by the Bourbon Restoration monarchy of the House of Bourbon. Louis XVIII of France became the new ruler.


  1. 1.0 1.1 But still domestically styled as French Republic until 1808: compare the French franc minted in 1808 [1] and in 1809 [2], as well as Article 1 of the Constitution of the Year XII, which reads in English "The Government of the Republic is vested in an Emperor, who takes the title of Emperor of the French."
  2. 2.0 2.1 The official bulletin of laws of the French Empire
  3. Le Chant du Départ, Fondation Napoléon, 2008, retrieved 16 May 2012
  4. According to his father's will only. Between 23 June and 7 July France was held by a Commission of Government of five members, which never summoned Napoleon II as emperor in any official act, and no regent was ever appointed while waiting the return of the king. [3]
  5. Rein Taagepera (September 1997). "Expansion and Contraction Patterns of Large Polities: Context for Russia". International Studies Quarterly. 41 (3): 501. doi:10.1111/0020-8833.00053. JSTOR 2600793. Retrieved 2021-08-20.
  6. Martyn Lyons, Napoleon Bonaparte and the Legacy of the French Revolution. p. 232
  7. Martyn Lyons p. 234-236