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Cartoons about Napoleon

  • Napoleon is one of the best known and most discussed figures in history. Even now the interpretation of his deeds and his legacy as first emperor of France are under debate. This was no different in Napoleon’s own time, making him a very suitable subject for cartoons.

    The cartoons in this collection were all made between 1797 and 1815, meaning they were created during Napoleon’s lifetime and at the height of his fame. The cartoons originate from five major European countries: Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Spain. The general image they paint of Bonaparte is hardly that of a mighty general and emperor. 

  • What all these cartoons have in common, is that they are based on significant historical events. There are for example cartoons about Napoleon’s Russian campaign, his concordat with the Pope and the continental system devised to blockade trade with Britain. Furthermore the cartoons make use of symbols. We see among others: John Bull, Atlas, crows and several Christian symbols

    Satire is also a widely used in these cartoons. For example: Napoleon is depicted as a child jumping a rope that is swung by the British general, the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian Field Marshal, Gebhard von Blücher. We also see Napoleon dancing to the will of two Russian peasants. Napoleon is also depicted as a wild gunslinger on his return from Elba. Like most cartoons these stereotypical images bear some truth in them but they are also exaggerations of reality.

  • This collection of cartoons about Napoleon is not only entertaining and instructive to look at; it also offers a valuable entry to many episodes in the history of Europe which involved Napoleon.