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Bonaparte, First Consul of the French Republic

Bonaparte, First Consul of the French Republic

From the beginning it was clear that Napoleon’s political support was closely tied to his fortunes in war. This engraving celebrates the victory over the Austrians at the battle of Marengo in Italy, June 1800. In fact, he almost lost this battle, but government propaganda rarely mentioned any such problems.

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Image of the King’s Departure

Image of the King’s Departure

This engraving depicts the King, his wife, and his children meeting at half–past midnight on 21 June 1791, about to board a carriage in which they will flee secretly from Paris toward the border. The King and Queen were poorly disguised as servants to a German noblewoman.

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Return from Varennes, Arrival of Louis Capet in Paris

Following his arrest, Louis and his family are returned to Paris. Large, silent crowds looked on disapprovingly.

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Thumbnail of the king's arrest by the guards

Fleeing by Design or the Perjurer Louis XVI

Another engraving of the King’s arrest portrays the guard apprehending Louis and his family in their flight from Paris in June 1791. From Varennes, the royal family is brought back to Paris accompanied by three deputies of the National Assembly, armed guards, and a sometimes angry crowd.

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Thumbnail of the king's flight

Louis XVI Stopt in his Flight at Varennes

This romantic English painting of the King’s flight suggests only a few feet separated the King from escape.

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Arrest of the King at Varennes, 22 June 1791

These images, all engraved and widely circulated years after the event, show four different moments of the arrest. Each successive image renders the scene increasingly dramatic. The first, a woodcut executed shortly after the event, shows the postman alone recognizing the King.

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Bonaparte, First Consul, Putting Away His Sword after the General Peace

Bonaparte, First Consul, Putting Away His Sword after the General Peace

The engraving celebrates the peace treaties of 1801 and 1802. The lack of perspective in this image reflects the vision that Napoleon wanted the French to have when they thought about his actions. Making peace proved to be one of Napoleon’s more popular decisions.

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Battle For and Taking of Ratisbon

Battle For and Taking of Ratisbon, April 23, 1809

The general peace agreement lasted a scant two years after the treaty of 1801. Although unable to seriously threaten an occupation of the British Isles, Napoleon was very successful on the continent, launching major wars into Austria, Prussia, Spain, and Italy until overreaching into Russia in 1812. The attack on Ratisbon was a key part of a struggle against Austria.

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Sire, They Are My Sons and My Wife

Sire, They Are My Sons and My Wife

Napoleon cultivated the intense personal loyalty of his troops with engravings like this one, which suggests a personal interest in the ordinary soldier.

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Meeting of the Emperors at Tilsit

Meeting of the Emperors at Tilsit

In July 1807, Napoleon and Alexander agreed to cooperate. Napoleon used this strategy to prevent his enemies from forming an alliance against him.

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