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Daily History

December 2 1804 Napoleon declares himself Emperor of France


On December 2nd 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte became the first Emperor of France in a thousand years. The previous Emperors were Charlemagne‘s Carolingian Dynasty during the 8th and 9th centuries AD. Napoleon Bonaparte declared himself Emperor Napoleon I at the Notre Dame in Paris.

Napoleon had served as First Consul to France, and effective French leader, since November in 1799, during which time he reformed French society through several sets of laws, and extensive attempts to create peace with neighbouring provinces and countries, Austria and Italy among them. In January of 1804, Bonaparte’s security discovered an assassination plot against him, sponsored by long-running opponents and previous French ruling family, the Bourbons. In fear of another uprising from the Bourbons, Bonaparte restored the notion of a French hereditary monarchy, crowned as the first Emperor by Pope Pius VII.

After this, Napoleon declared himself King of Italy in 1805 and established rule in several states before joint attempts by Austria and Russia to dethrone him. In 1814, Napoleon abdicated from the throne in light of approaching invasions from a Coalition army of Russia, Prussia, Spain, Portugal and the British. Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to the island of Saint Elena in 1815, before dying on May 5, 1821.

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