Ministers on Demand: French Senior Government Officials as Transnational Agents of Modernity in Napoleon’s Brother Kingdoms

Research output: Chapter in book/volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


In six French satellite states, Holland, Westphalia, Berg, (Northern) Italy, Naples, and Spain, Napoleon placed his kinsmen on the throne to ensure the administrative, financial and social reforms necessary to supply men and money for the imperial war effort. In most of the brother kingdoms, French bureaucrats played a major role in implementing this modernisation process as senior government officials. They were either asked for by the Napoleonids or sent over by Napoleon, each of them applying different ways of recruitment. For the Emperor specialist knowledge and previous achievements were usually the deciding factor, while his royal relatives preferred to look for suitable candidates primarily in their personal entourages. Most friends and acquaintances of the Napoleonids proved to be expert and experienced administrators, but there were a few notorious exceptions. In general, French senior government officials in the brother kingdoms enjoyed a large measure of autonomy in the performance of their duties, thus enabling several of them not merely to implement policy but to shape it. As both the Emperor and his crowned siblings were keen to select moderate liberals, it was this specific political creed that marked the way modernisations were introduced abroad.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Early Modern State: Drivers, Beneficiaries and Discontents
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honour of Prof. Dr. Marjolein 't Hart
EditorsPepijn Brandon, Lex Heerma van Voss, Annemieke Romein
Place of PublicationAbingdon / New York
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9780367544683
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Early Modern History


  • Napoleonic Empire
  • bureaucracy
  • Napoleonic Europe
  • Kings and rulers
  • civil servants
  • modernisation
  • political transfer


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