The Midget Conqueror

When Napoleon Bonaparte prepared the invasion of Britain in 1803, a veritable stream of anti-Napoleonic propaganda started flowing on the island. Through pamphlets, ballads and cartoons, a “black legend” was created in which Napoleon featured as a bloodthirsty and insatiable warmonger who committed numerous atrocities. From about 1810, caricature images of the French conqueror crossed British borders and were spread among European audiences. Cartoonists loved to portray Napoleon as a dwarfish man in a huge hat, making him look like a petulant child or a toy soldier that could not possibly be taken seriously. This strategy was so successful that the notion of Napoleon as a man of diminutive stature has lasted to this day.

Literature

• Jean Tulard, L’Anti-Napoléon: la légende noire de l’Empereur (Paris 1965)
• Simon Burrows, ‘British propaganda and anti-Napoleonic feeling in the invasion crisis of 1803’, in: Margarette Lincoln (ed.), Nelson & Napoléon (London 2005) 125-130
• Simon Burrows, ‘Britain and the Black Legend: the genesis of the anti-Napoleonic myth’, in: Mark Philp (ed.), Resisting Napoleon: The British Response to the Threat of Invasion, 1797-1815 (Aldershot 2006) 141-157

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