Napoleonic Titles and Heraldry

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Contents


Napoleon Ier, in coronation robes. by François Gérard. Note the collar of the Légion d'Honneur. (France, Ministry of Culture, Base Joconde)

Napoléon Bonaparte (himself of a noble family) ruled France from 1799 to 1804 as First Consul, and from 1804 to 1814 as Emperor of the French (as well as a 3-month period in 1815, called the Hundred Days).

Napoléon found a number of ways to reward and distinguish those who served his regime well. The first institution was the Légion d'Honneur, created on May 19, 1802. Although the grand-fiefs were created in Italy, outside of the French Empire, in 1806, the restoration of titles and of heraldry, which had been abolished in 1790, did not come until a statute of March 1, 1808. Technically, it was not a restoration of nobility, which Napoleon had sworn never to tolerate, and which would have been characterized by inequality before the law. In fact, the words "nobility" and "noble" are never used in the statutes, and the law on majorats(see below) explicitly states that the majorats confer no right or privilege whatsoever (Senatus-consulte of Aug 14, 1806, art. 6; confirmed by statute of March 1, 1808, art. 74). In 1814, when monarchy was restored, the Charter used the term "new nobility" when referring to the Napoleonic titles, but again specified that nobility conferred no exemption from the burdens and duties of society. In practice, the term of nobility is nowadays sometimes used as a short-hand to designate the collection of titles granted during the Empire.

A decree of May 17, 1809 extended the right to arms to cities, corporations and associations which applied for them.

Napoléon's Titles

French Empire

Creation of the Empire

(See also the page on the title of emperor.)

The First French Empire lasted from 1804 to 1814 (and was briefly restored from March to June 1815, a period known as "the Hundred Days").

It resulted from the transformation of the French Republic, in existence since 22 Sept 1792, into an Empire.  Strictly speaking, the Republic remained in name.  The French Senate voted a law on May 18, 1804 whose first article reads: "The government of the Republic is vested in an Emperor, who takes the title of Emperor of the French." The second article read: "Napoléon Bonaparte, currently First Consul of the French Republic, is Emperor of the French." The law was proclaimed on May 20, 1804. No contradiction was seen between France being a Republic and it being governed by an Emperor. Indeed, until 1808, French coins bore "République Française" on one side and "Napoléon Empereur" on the other, pursuant to a decree of June 26, 1804 that only modified the legend on the obverse, replacing "Bonaparte Premier Consul" with "Napoleon Empereur". The legend on the reverse was only modified by decree of October 22, replacing "Republique Française" with "Empire français" as of Jan 1, 1809). This was a return to the Roman use of the word Emperor (Augustus was officially only the first citizen of the Roman Republic).

A referendum took place in late May 1804. It did not bear on either the imperial dignity or its bestowal on Napoleon, but rather on the question of heredity of the imperial dignity. The text of the referendum was: "the people want the imperial dignity to be hereditary in the direct, natural, legitimate and adoptive line of Napoléon Bonaparte and in the direct, natural and legitimate line of Joseph Bonaparte and Louis Bonaparte, as provided by the law of [May 18]."

Napoléon's official style was: "Napoléon, par la grâce de Dieu et les Constitutions de la République, Empereur des Français". Several other titles were added: "Roi d'Italie" (1805), "Protecteur de la Confédération du Rhin"(1806), "Médiateur de la Confédération Helvétique"(1809).

The arms of the French Empire are described elsewhere.

The territories of the French Empire already exceded the boundaries of 1789 France, as a result of annexations: Comtat-Venaissin (1791), Savoie (1792), Belgium and Germany up to the Rhine (1795), all of which were confirmed by the peace of Lunéville in 1801.  The territory increased further as a result of other annexations:

  • Kehl, Cassel, Wesel, Flessingen (21 Jan 1808)
  • Parma, Piacenza, Tuscany (24 May 1808)
  • Netherlands (9 July 1810)
  • Rome and the Papal states (17 May 1809, 17 Feb 1810)
  • Valais (12 Nov 1810)
  • various German territories (13 Dec 1810)

Law of Succession

The rules on inheritance of the imperial dignity are described in detail in the law of May 18. Women and their issue were excluded forever. Napoléon could adopt a son or grandson of one of his brothers Joseph or Louis, if he had no children of his own. No other adoptions were allowed. Joseph and Louis and their issue were in line after Napoléon's own issue. Princes were forbidden from marrying without prior consent, on pain of losing their succession rights and excluding their issue; but if the marriage ended without children, the prince would recover his rights.

A decree of March 30, 1806 defined the status of the imperial family. It was composed of (1) the princes apt to succeed as defined by the Constitution, their spouses and their descendance in legitimate marriage, (2) the sisters of Napoléon, their spouses and their descendants in legitimate marriage to the 5th generation included, (3) the adopted children of the Emperor and their legitimate descent. The decree laid down many rules on the behavior of the members of the family; the most predictable one was that formal written assent from the Emperor (in a closed letter sealed by the Chancelor) was required for any marriage to be legally valid; in the absence of consent, the marriage was null and void and any descent was illegitimate. Many other rules were also set down: the Emperor could exile members of his family, or exile people whose influence he disapproved of; he decided on their education, where they lived, etc.

End of the Empire

On April 1, 1814, the victorious Allied troups occupied Paris, and Czar Alexander I of Russia issued a proclamation to the effect that the Allies would respect the constitution that France would choose for itself, but that they would not deal with Napoleon or any member of his family. The Senate met the next day and proclaimed: "Napoléon Bonaparte est déchu du trône et le droit d'hérédité établi dans sa famille est aboli." The next day, the Corps Législatif signalled its agreement: "Le Corps Législatif [...] reconnaît et déclare la déchéance de Napoléon Bonaparte et des membres de sa famille." Napoleon himself formally renounced the thrones of France and Italy "for himself and his posterity" on April 11, 1814. This renunciation was enshrined in a formal treaty between himself on one hand, Russia, Austria and Prussia on the other hand, signed at Fontainebleau on the same day. Great Britain acceded to the treaty of Fontainebleau on 27 April, the Provisional Government of France accepted it on April 11, and an official note by Louis XVIII's minister of foreign affairs of 30 May indicated the king's intention to abide the terms of the treaty. Thus, Napoleon's renunciation was an act of international law. The treaty gave him sovereignty over Elba, and gave Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla as hereditary domain for his wife and their son (the treaty of Vienna of June 1815, however, only gave Parma to Napoleon's wife for her life and left the details of reversion for another treaty; that treaty, signed in Paris on June 10, 1817, left Parma to the dynasty of Bourbon-Parma; for a short while, though, Napoleon's son was styled "principe di Parma"). The treaty of Fontainebleau also made other arrangements for Bonaparte family members.

Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba, off the coast of Italy; he was given sovereignty over the island for his lifetime (the arms of the island under Napoleon were argent on a bend gules three bees or). But Napoleon decided to take advantage of the fragility of the restored Bourbon regime in France, and returned to France. Upon landing at Golfe-Juan, on March 1, 1815, he resumed the imperial dignity. The defeat at Waterloo on June 18 left him with no choice but to abdicate, this time in favor of his son Napoleon II, who was proclaimed in Paris on 22 June 1815.  On July 1, 1815 the Bourbons returned to Paris and put an end to "les Cent Jours".

See a map of the French empire at its peak in 1811.

Kingdom of Italy

The kingdom of Italy resulted from the transformation of the Italian Republic, formerly known as the Cisalpine Republic, whose creation in 1796 was recognized by the Treaty of Campo-Formio of Oct 1797.

Napoléon was already president of the Italian Republic.  He was proclaimed king of Italy in Paris on March 16, 1805 by delegates of the Republic. Napoléon intended to leave the kingdom of Italy to a younger son of his and maintain France and Italy as separate realms: these intentions are expressed in the constitutional statute of March 17, 1805, which indicates that the two crowns could never be united, and that Napoléon's successors in Italy had to reside there; but that separation of the crowns would take place only once Sicily, Malta and the Ionian Islands had been joined to the kingdom, and a general peace prevailed in Europe. (See also the full texts in Italian).

When Venice was united to the kingdom of Italy on March 30, 1806, the title of "prince of Venice" was reserved for the heir presumptive to the kingdom of Italy (art. 9). A statute of June 5, 1805 defined the position of viceroy of Italy, to which Napoléon appointed Eugène de Beauharnais (1781-1824), son of his wife Joséphine from her first marriage. The Prince Eugène was adopted on 12 Jan, 1806 with no rights to the French succession, but he was given presumptive rights to the throne of Italy in the absence of a second son of Napoleon on February 16, 1806, and given the title of Prince of Venice on December 20, 1807.

The arms of the kingdom of Italy were:
Tierced per pale: 1) per fess a) Gules on a gonfalone two keys per saltire all or (Parma-Farnese) and b) Azure an eagle displayed argent, wings inverted, crowned and armed or (Modena-Este); 2) Argent a serpent erect per vert, crowned or, swallowing a child gules (Lombardia); 3) per fess, a) Azure the lion of Saint-Mark or (Veneto) and b) Gules on a cross argent a label or and in base sinister a tower of the second (Bologna). Overall an escutcheon bearing: or a crown radiant vert, on a bordure gules 8 plates. The shield encircled by the collar of the Legion of Honor on the breast of an imperial eagle or, within a mantle gules lined ermine, crowned by a royal crown.

The kingdom was enlarged with the annexation of Urbino, Ancona, Macerate and Camerino (part of the Papal states) on 2 Apr 1808.  The territories ceded by Austria on the coast of the Adriatic may have formed part of the kingdom.  They were collectively organized into the "Illyrian Provinces" on 14 Oct 1809 (comprising Villach, Carniola, Istria, Fiume, Trieste, Dalmatia, parts of Croatia).

When Rome and the remainder of the Papal states was united to the French Empire on February 17, 1810, Rome was given the rank of second city of the Empire, and the title of "roi de Rome" was reserved for the Prince Imperial ("art. 7: le prince impérial porte le titre et reçoit les honneurs de Roi de Rome"). It was subsequently born by Napoleon (1811-32), the Emperor's only son.

Le Roi de Rome, par Pierre-Paul Prud'hon.

Napoleonic Titles

Aside from the kingdoms and sovereign grand-duchies that Napoléon created as he rearranged the map of Europe, he also established a hierarchy of titles. The first batch of titles were created in 1806: these were territorial principalities ceded as "immediate fiefs of the crown", or "great fiefs of the crown" established in Italy on particular lands, a 1/15th of whose income was attached to the title as revenue. Furthermore, a statute of 1806 foresaw the creation of further titles.

This was carried out in 1808, by a decree of March 30, 1808 on titles. Napoléon created a full-blown hierarchy of titles: prince, duc, comte, baron, chevalier (each qualified as de l'Empire: prince de l'Empire, duc de l'Empire, etc). For some reason, Napoléon found the titles of marquis and vicomte ridiculous, and never bestowed them.

The titles were either life titles or hereditary titles. A hereditary title had to have an endowment called majorat attached to it. The endowment could be provided by the Emperor himself out of his personal estate (the domaine extraordinaire, resulting from conquests and confiscations) in the case of a majorat de propre mouvement or proprio motu, or it could be formed by the title holder.

The life titles of dukes, counts and barons were automatically conferred to the holders of certain offices or positions. To become a hereditary title, the recipient had to establish a majorat. The title of chevalier d'Empire was originally conferred on members of the Légion d'Honneur, although it ultimately became distinct from membership. Three consecutive generations of membership in the Legion conferred hereditary knighthood on the third member. It was the lowest rank (there was no écuyer d'Empire).

Napoléon also created titles at his pleasure, and endowed them totally or partially as he wished. In particular, he created a series of titles of princes and dukes for his generals, the "victory titles", in which the name of the title was derived from a particular battle. This was not an invention of Napoleon: the British had been doing so since 1693 (viscount Barfleur) and the Spaniards since the 1730s at least (e.g., marqués de Bitonto; Charles III of Sicily created the count of Montemar duke of Bitonto in July 1734). But there were no precedents in France, where until 1789 titles remained linked to land.

The titles which were automatic were the following (decree of March 1, 1808):

  1. Prince for the Grands Dignitaires of the Empire
  2. Duke for their eldest sons (only after formation of a majorat)
  3. Count for ministers, senators, life-councillors of State (conseillers d'Etat à vie), presidents of the Legislative House, archbishops
  4. Baron for presidents of electoral colleges (with minimum tenure of 3 sessions), First President of the Court of Cassation, First President and procureur-général of the Court of Accounts (Cour des Comptes), First Presidents and procureurs-généraux of the Courts of Appeal, mayors of the "bonnes villes" (37, later 52 major cities), bishops. All offices had to be held at least 10 years before the title became automatic. The titles could also be bestowed on generals, prefects, mayors, military and civilian officers, at the emperor's pleasure.
Titles of princes and dukes were given:
  • to all of the Emperor's siblings (except Lucien, whose title of prince of Canino was a pontifical title: Lucien and Napoléon fell out early on)
  • to all Grands Dignitaires of the Empire:
    • Grand-Électeur Joseph Bonaparte
    • Connétable Louis Bonaparte
    • Grand-Amiral Joachim Murat
    • Archi-Chancelier d'État Eugène de Beauharnais
    • Archi-Chancelier de l'Empire Cambacérès
    • Archi-Trésorier Lebrun
    • Vice-Connétable Berthier, prince de Neufchâtel (9 Aug 1807)
    • Vice-Grand-Électeur Talleyrand, prince de Bévévent (9 Aug 1807)
  • to most Grands Officiers of the Empire:
    • Vice-Grand-Électeur and Grand-Chambellan Talleyrand
    • Vice-Connétable and Grand-Veneur Berthier
    • Grand-Maréchal du Palais Duroc
    • Grand-Écuyer Caulaincourt
    • Governor of the departements beyond the Alps prince Borghese
    • Governor of the departements of Holland Lebrun
    • Grand-Aumônier Cardinal Fesch (Emperor's uncle): no title
    • Grand-Maître des Cérémonies Ségur: count
    • Grand-Chambellan Montesquiou (1809): count
    • Grand-Maréchal du Palais Bertrand (1813): count
  • to 14 out of the original 18 maréchaux d'Empire of 1804 (Brune and Jourdan were not titled under the Empire, although they both became dukes after the return of the Bourbons; Pérignon and Serrurier, promoted honorary maréchaux, were not titled either) and to 5 of the 8 subsequent maréchaux (Gouvion-Saint-Cyr, Poniatowski and Grouchy were not titled, probably for lack of time). In making dukes out of his maréchaux d'Empire, Napoleon was only perpetuating an Old Regime tradition.

  • See biographical information on Napoleon's maréchaux.
  • to 7 ministers (Régnier, minister of Justice; Decrès, admiral and minister of the Navy; Champagny, minister of Foreign Affairs; Fouché, minister of the Police; Gaudin, minister of Finances; Maret, secretary of State; Clarke, general, minister of War).
  • to 4 généraux (Arrighi de Casanova, Junot, Girard (posthumous), Savary).
  • to 2 special cases (former empress Joséphine, Dalberg).
There was a declension of titles: if a majorat had been formed, then the son of a prince was a duke, the son of a duke was a count, the son of a count was a baron. This innovation (inexistent under the Old Regime) was preserved by the Restoration for peers.

In addition to titles, there existed the rank of prince français, reserved for members of the Imperial family eligible to succeed to the throne.

In all, about 2200 titles were created:

  • Princes and Dukes:
    • sovereign princes (3)
    • duchies grand fiefs (20)
    • victory princes (4)
    • victory dukedoms (10)
    • other dukedoms (3)
  • Counts (251)
  • Barons (1516)
  • Knights (385)
There were 239 remaining families holding 1st Empire titles in 1975. Of those, perhaps 130-140 were titled. Only 1 title of prince and 7 titles of duke remain.

The Majorats

See the decree of March 1, 1808 creating the majorats and other related texts.

The peculiarity of Napoleonic titles was the necessity for a title to have an endowment (called a majorat) to which it was attached. Titles, whether automatically obtained by office or conferred by the Emperor, were life titles only, unless an endowment was created, either by the holder of the title out of his own estate (for automatic titles) or by the Emperor when he conferred the title. The endowment had to generate a minimum annual income (200,000F for a duke, 30,000F for a count, 15,000F for a baron, 3,000F for a knight).

The endowment could be formed of estates free of any liens (estimated on the basis of tax assessments and leases), government bonds, shares in the Bank of France. The composition of the endowment had to be approved by the Conseil du Sceau before the letters patent could be issued.

Once an endowment (or "majorat") had been created, the estates or securities which comprised it were exempted from the normal civil laws (the Napoleon Code), particularly from rules on division between heirs. The majorat remained whole, and was transmitted by male primogeniture to the legitimate issue (heir of body or adopted but with imperial approval in the latter case). Bishops and archbishops could appoint a nephew to inherit their title. The endowment could not be mortgaged, sold, or foreclosed. The majorat carried no privilege or tax exemption of any kind, however.

An oath of loyalty was required of the recipient of a majorat, within 3 months of reception: "I swear to be faithful to the Emperor, his dynasty, to obey the constitutions, laws and regulations of the Empire; to serve His Majesty as a good, loyal and faithful subject; to raise my children in the same feelings of faithfulness and obedience, to rise to the defense of the Motherland any time the territory is endangered or when His Majesty goes to head the army."

In case of extinction of the male line of the founder of the majorat, the title became extinct, the estates forming the endowment were freed and passed on to the heirs according to the normal rules of inheritance, unless the endowment had been provided by the Emperor with reversion clauses. The decree of March 1, 1808, does not say what happens if any of the requirements on recipients are not met.

The law of May 9, 1835 suppressed the requirement of a majorat to make titles hereditary, and specified that existing majorats were to become extinct after the second inheritance (that is, the estates became subject once again to ordinary inheritance laws). However, the law applied only to majorats created by individuals out of their own estates, not to majorats endowed by the Emperor, which continued to exist under their own regime. These last majorats were abolished by the finance law of April 22, 1905, pursuant to which the estates reverted to the State in exchange for an indemnity (negotiated by a bilateral commission; the total amount appropriated for these indemnities was capped at 15 times the revenue of all existing majorats).

A side effect of the law of 1835 was that, since it eliminated the requirement of creating a majorat, any original recipient who was still alive at that date and had not yet created a majorat saw his title become hereditary. This was significant, since creating a majorat was costly and few had done so, only 15% of recipients.

The Annuaire de la noblesse de France published in 1858 and 1859 lists of the two kinds of majorats, those endowed by the title holders themselves (majorats sur demande) and those endowed by the Emperor (majorats de propre mouvement).

Armory of the Principal Napoleonic Titles

This is an armory of the major Napoleonic titles (dukes and higher). In the following list, an asterisk marks those that are not extinct. The coats of arms are those of the individual to whom the title was granted; in most cases I have omitted the mention of the chief of prince of the Empire or duke of the Empire.

Arnaud Bunel has depicted most of these coats of arms.

Sovereign Titles

Kings

  • Naples and Sicily or Two-Sicilies:
    • Joseph, brother of the Emperor, was created king of Naples and Sicily by decree of 30 March 1806. He was recognized by Prussia and Russia at the Treaty of Tilsit (7 Jul 1807).Joseph ceded his rights back to Napoleon by the treaty of Bayonne, 5 July 1808.
    • Joachim Murat, brother-in-law of the Emperor, was made king of the Two-Sicilies by the treaty of Bayonne, 15 July 1808; he reigned until 20 May 1815, when his troops surrendered to joint Austrian-British forces. He had been formally recognized by Austria in a treaty of 11 Jan 1814.

    • See an official portrait of Joachim as king of Naples by the baron Gérard.


    Per fess: in chief per pale, Azure two cornucopiae per saltire or and Azure a dolphin argent for Naples; in base or a trinacria proper. Overall an escutcheon bearing Azure an imperial eagle or.Supports: two sirens, holding an oar and an anchor. Mantle gules with a bordure chequy argent and vert, lined ermine. Royal crown.

  • Holland :
    • Louis, brother of the Emperor, was created king of Holland by treaty of 5 June 1806 on 7 August Batavian Republic. A constitution was promulgated soon after, incorporating the rule of succession defined in the treaty. He was recognized as king of Holland by Prussia and Russia in the treaty of Tilsit of 7 July 1807.  Louis abdicated in favor of his two sons Napoléon Louis and Charles Louis Napoléon on July 1, 1810, and established his wife as regent (see the act in French and Dutch in Martens, Nouveau Recueil Général, 9:332; see also Pölitz, Europäische Verfassungen, 2:191).  This abdication was recognized in the Netherlands and a regency council formed on July 3, but Napoleon ignored the act. A decree of 9 July 1810 simply annexed Holland to the French Empire. Holland was evacuated by French troups in November 1813.

    • See an official portrait of Louis as king of Holland by the baron Gérard.


    Quarterly Gules a lion holding a sword and a thunderbolt all or, and Azure an imperial eagle or. (Arms defined by a law of 7 August 1806, quartering "the old arms of the State with the imperial eagle of France").

  • Westphalia :
    • Jérôme, brother of the Emperor, was recognized as king of of the yet-to-be-defined kingdom of Westphalia by Prussia and Russia at Tilsit on 7 July 1807. A constitution was promulgated on 16 Nov 1807. He reigned until 1813.

    • See an official portrait of Jérôme as king of Westphalia by François Kinson.
  • Spain:
    • The king of Spain Carlos IV, his son Fernando prince of the Asturias, and the other Infantes of Spain, had ceded their rights to the Crown of Spain to Napoleon by treaty of Bayonne of 8 May and 10 May 1808. Napoleon then ceded his rights to the crown of Spain and the Indies to his brother Joseph by treaty of Bayonne, 5 July 1808. A constitution was promulgated the next day. Joseph reigned until 1813, when Napoleon returned Spain conditionally to Ferdinand VII (treaty of Valançay, 13 Dec 1813) and French troups evacuated Spain.

    • See an official portrait of Joseph as king of Spain.


    Quarterly of 6, in three rows of two each, 1. Castile; 2. Leon; 3. Aragon; 4. Navarra; 5. Granada; 6. Indies (Azure, the old and the new world or between the pillars of Hercules argent). Overall an escutcheon azure an imperial eagle or.

  • Rome:
    • the purely honorary title of King of Rome was reserved for the heir apparent of the Emperor (Napoleon's son, from 1811 to 1814).

Sovereign Grand-Dukes and Princes (3)

Both the grand-duchies of Cleves-Berg and Frankfurt were fully sovereign states, members of the Confederation of the Rhine, and equal in status in international law to any other European state ruled by a relative or close ally of Napoleon. Tuscany was a purely honorary title. Lucca-Piombino was a principality formed from the pre-existing, independent republic of Lucca.

  • Cleves and Berg :

  • Transferred to Joachim Murat by decree of 30 March 1806. Murat ceded them back to Napoleon by the treaty of Bayonne, 15 July 1808. They were then granted by letters patent of 3 March 1809 to Napoleon-Louis, eldest son of Louis, king of Holland, who nominally held them until 1813 (laws in Berg and Cleves were promulgated by Napoleon himself under the title of grand-duke).
  • Frankfurt:

  • created for Eugène de Beauharnais (Napoleon's adopted son), in 1810, but only after the death of Archbishop Dalberg, prince-primate of the German Confederation.
    No arms were ever granted by Napoleon to Eugène.
  • Tuscany :

  • This was not properly a sovereign grand-duchy, since Tuscany formed part of the French Empire, but an honorary title. The kingdom of Etruria or Tuscany was created by the treaty of Aranjuez of 21 March 1801 between France and Spain, in favor of Lodovico I of Parma and his issue, with reversion to the Spanish royal family. It was ceded to France by the secret treaty of Fontainebleau of 27 October 1807 and united to the French Empire along with Parma and Piacenza by a decree of 24 May 1808 ("fera partie intégrante du territoire français"). On 2 March 1809, the (honorific) office of "gouvernement géréral des départements formant la Toscane" was raised to a "grande dignité de l'Empire," and it was granted on 3 March 1809 to Élisa Bonaparte (she held it until 1 Feb 1814).
    Quarterly Medici, Lucca, Massa-Carrara and Bonaparte, over all an escutcheon azure an imperial eagle or.
    The arms of the kingdom of Etruria had been: per pale Farnese and Gonzaga, the point per pale Lorraine and Austria. Overall an escutcheon quarterly Castile and Leon, on which an escutcheon per pale Bourbon and Medici.
  • Lucca-Piombino :

  • The principality of Piombino was ceded by the kingdom of Naples to France by the treaty of Florence of 21 March 1801. Napoleon ceded Piombino to Élisa Bonaparte and her husband the count Baciocchi by decree of 18 March 1805. Soon after, on 4 June 1805, the Council of Elders of the still-independent Republic of Lucca asked Napoleon, as king of Italy, to entrust the government of the republic to a member of his family and make it hereditary in the latter's natural issue. Accordingly, Napoleon chose Elisa's husband Felix Baciocchi, and the choice was ratified by Lucca on 14 June 1805. Baciocchi was named "prince of Lucca" by the constitution of 23 June 1805. In case of his death the principality was to pass to Elisa and after her to their male legitimate issue by order of primogeniture (Pölitz, Europäsche Verfassungen)

"Sovereign" Princes (3)

The status of these principalities is a little ambiguous, as the texts concerning them speak of "full sovereignty", yet (in the cases of Ponte-Corvo, Benevento, and Neufchâtel) an oath of loyalty to Napeolon was required, which makes them a little closer to fiefs. These statelets were presumably ruled much the way Monaco is today, formally independent but closely dependent on France. Guastalla was initially patterned on the same model but was immediately annexed by the kingdom of Italy and turned into a ducal title.

  • Neufchâtel :

  • Maréchal Berthier was granted the principality of Neuchâtel, formerly owned by Prussia, by decree of 30 March 1806
    Arms: see below under Wagram.
  • Guastalla:

  • Pauline, sister of the Emperor, was granted the principality of Guastalla, with title of princess and duchess of Guastalla, by decree of 30 March 1806. Her cession of the principality back to the kingdom of Italy was authorized by a sénatus-consulte of 14 August 1806; she retained the title of duchess. Her husband Camille Borghese was naturalized French on 7 Germinal XIII, and later given the office of the "gouvernement général des départements au-delà des Alpes."
  • Ponte Corvo :

  • (papal enclave in the kingdom of Naples, given Maréchal Bernadotte was granted the principality of Ponte-Corvo, a former papal enclave in the kingdom of Naples, by decree of 5 June 1806. He ceded it back to the Emperor in 1810. It was then given to Lucien, second son of Joachim Murat, in 1812, returned to the Papal States in 1815; the descendants of Lucien Murat use the title)
    Arms: Per pale, Or a sword azure in fess, and Azure on a shield a sabre in bend or sheathed sable.
  • Benevent:

  • Talleyrand was granted the principality, a former papal enclave in the kingdom of Naples, by decree of 5 June 1806. It was returned to the Papel States in 1815.
    Per pale Gules three lions or, armed langued and crowned azure (Talleyrand-Périgord) and Or a boar sable (Benevento), a chief of sovereign prince of the Empire.
  • Venice:

  • this is not a sovereign principality, but an honorary title. The title of the heir apparent to the kingdom of Italy was created by article 9 of the decree of March 30, 1806. It was conferred on Dec 17, 1807 to Eugène de Beauharnais, viceroy of Italy and adopted son of Napoleon I. It was not endowed, and functioned much like the title of king of Rome for the French Empire.

duchés grands fiefs de l'Empire

Since feudalism had been abolished in France, Napoleon could not satisfy his desire to surround himself with great feudataries. He did so by establishing "duchies great-fiefs" (duchés grands-fiefs) in the satellite dominions of Italy. A total of 16 duchies were created in March 1806. The peculiarity of these titles was that they were attached to a territorial basis, and received an income from public funds in those territories (either from general fiscal revenues of from the state's domains). This is different altogether from the majorat system, which are private estates attached after concession of the title by the grantee (even if the estates often proceeded from a gift of the emperor), and owned as private property, albeit subject to a special regime in civil law.

In the Kingdom of Italy (12)

Created by decree of 30 March 1806
  • Dalmatia:

  • for maréchal Soult (1808, ext. 1857)
    Arms: Or on an escutcheon gules three leopard's heads or.
  • Istria:

  • for maréchal Bessières (1809, ext. 1856)
    Arms: Quarterly: 1, Azure a lion or langued gules; 2, Argent an osprey soaring sable; 3, Or a tower azure, port, windows and masoned sable; 4, gules a fox passant or.
  • Frioul :

  • for the widow of general Duroc (1813, ext. 1829)
    Arms: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Or a castle with three towers gules, ports, windows and vanes sable; 2 and 3, Azure a cavalryman holding in dexter hand a sabre unsheathed, all argent; over all vert a mount or thereon a mullet of 5 points argent.
  • Cadore :

  • for amiral Nompère de Champagny (ext. 1893)
    Arms: Azure three chevrons split couped or.
  • Bellune :

  • for maréchal Victor (1808, ext. 1853)
    Arms: Per pale, Azure a dexter arm issuant from dexter armed and holding a sword argent, and Or on a lion sable a fess gules.
  • Conegliano :

  • for maréchal Moncey (1808, ext. 1842)
    Arms: Azure a hand or winged and holding a sword in pale argent.
  • Trévise :

  • for maréchal Mortier (1808, ext. 1912)
    Arms: Quarterly: 1, Or a horse's head contournee sable; 2, Azure a dexter arm or issuing from sinister, holding a sword argent; 3, Azure a dexter arm or issuing from dexter, holding a sword argent; 4, Or a horse's head sable.
  • * Feltre :

  • for general Clarke (ext. 1852, extended 1864)
    Arms: Gules three swords argent hilted or, set in fess.
  • Bassano :

  • for Maret, minister (ext. 1906)
    Arms: Per fess: 1, tierced in pale or, gules and argent; 2, Gules a hand winged or writing with a sword argent; over all Argent a granite column surmounted by an oak wreath proper, supported by two lions combatant gules.
  • Vicence (Vicenza) :

  • for general Caulaincourt, Grand-Écuyer (ext. 1896)
    Arms: Per pale sable and or, on the first a wild man gules leaning on a club sable and supporting on his dexter fist a rooster of the last.
  • Padoue (Padova) :

  • for general Arrighi de Casanova (24 April 1808, ext. 1888)
  • Rovigo :

  • for general Savary (ext. 1872)
    Arms: Azure a chevron or between two mullets pierced in chief and a cavalry sabre in base argent; over all an escutcheon quarterly argent a lion passant proper and argent a saltire gules.

In the Principality of Lucca-Piombino (1)

  • Massa et Carrara:

  • for Régnier, judge (ext. 1962)
    Massa and Carrara were separated from the kingdom of Italy by article 8 of the decree of March 30, 1806 and united to the principality of Lucca-Piombino by another decree of March 30, 1806. Arms: Ermine on a fess sable three alerions or.

In the Kingdom of Naples (4)

Created by decree of 30 March 1806.
  • Benevento (principality)
  • Pontecorvo (principality)
  • Gaete :

  • for Gaudin, finance minister (1809, ext. 1841)
    Arms: Or a pale azure chevronny of the field, on a bordure azure a semy of bezants and plates.
  • * Otrante :

  • for Fouché, minister of Police (1809)
    Arms: Azure a serpent entwined around a column or thereon five ermine spots 2, 2 and 1.
  • * Reggio :

  • for maréchal Oudinot (1810, main line ext. 1956, but special clause of the letters patent authorizing a substitution were applied)
    Arms: Per pale, Gules three helms in profile argent, and Argent a lion gules supporting a grenade sable inflamed of the second.
  • Tarente :

  • for maréchal MacDonald (1809, ext. 1912)
    Arms: Quarterly: 1, Argent a lion gules; 2, Or an arm dexter armed holding a cross crosslet fitchy gules; 3, Argent a galley sable, sails and banner gules, on a sea vert, therein a salmon of the field; 4, Argent a tree eradicated vert thereon an eagle displayed sable, on a terrace in base or a scorpio sable in bend; over all a crescent gules in fess point.

In the states of Parma and Piacenza (3)

Created by decree of 30 March 1806 in the states of Parma and Piacenza, ceded to France by the treaty of Aranjuez of 21 March 1801.  The territories were united to the French Empire on 24 May 1808.
  • Parme :

  • for Cambacérès, author of the Code, Arch-Chancellor (24 April 1808, ext. 1824)
    Arms: Or an arm dexter proper vested gules lined ermine issuing from sinister flank, holding the tables of the law sable, all between three lozenges of the last.
  • Plaisance (Piacenza) :

  • for Lebrun, Arch-Treasurer (24 April 1808, ext. 1926)
    Arms: Sable a she-wolf statant or beneath two billets argent.
  • Guastalla (ext. 1842)

Victory Titles

Principalities (4)

  • Eckmühl for maréchal Davout (1809, ext. 1853)

  • Arms: Or two lions rampant guardant gules, one in dexter chief and the other contourne in sinister base, each holding a Polish lance, all within a bordure gobony or and gules.
  • * Essling for maréchal Masséna (1810)

  • Arms: Or a winged victory proper holding in one hand a palm and the other an olive crown vert, in base a dog couchant sable.
  • Moskowa for maréchal Ney (1813, ext. 1969)

  • Arms: Or, on an escutcheon azure between two hands sable issuing from the center each holding a sword argent, an orle of the first, all within a bordure of the second.
  • Wagram for maréchal Berthier (1809, ext. 1918)

  • Arms: Per pale: 1, Or a dexter arm proper, vested azure semy of bees or and lined of the last, holding a sword sable and on the arm a shield purpure, thereon the letter W within an orle and the motto COMMILITONI VICTOR CAESAR, all or, and a chief of duke of the Empire (Berthier); 2, Gules a on pale or three chevrons sable, and a chief of prince of the Empire (Neufchâtel).

Dukedoms (11)

  • Elchingen for Ney (1808, ext. 1969)

  • Arms: Or on an inescutcheon azure between two hands addorsed sable holding scimitars proper, an orle or, all within a bordure azure.
  • Dantzig for maréchal Lefebvre (28 May 1807, ext. 1820)

  • Arms: Per pale: 1, Azure an arm dexter proper armed and holding a sword argent hilted or; 2. Or on a fess vert between two eagle wings addorsed in chief and a cross formy in base sable, two men each leading a woman argent.
  • Abrantès for maréchal Junot (1808, ext. 1859, extended in female line 1869, ext. 1985)

  • Arms: Quarterly: 1, Sable three mullets of five points set 2 and 1 between three crows set 1 and 2 all argent; 2, Azure a palm-tree or surmounting a crescent argent; 3, Azure a ship of three masts or on a sea argent; 4, Sable a lion or supporting a sword argent.
  • * Auerstaedt for Davout (1808, ext. 1853, extended to collaterals)

  • Arms: Or two lions rampant guardant gules, one in dexter chief and the other contourne in sinister base, each holding a Polish lance, all within a bordure gobony or and gules.
  • Castiglione for maréchal Augereau (1808, ext. 1915)

  • Arms: Azure a lion rampant guardant crowned or.
  • * Montebello for maréchal Lannes (1808)

  • Arms: Vert a sword in pale Or.
  • Raguse for maréchal Marmont (1808, ext. 1852)

  • Arms: Quarterly: 1 and 4, barry of 6 argent and gules; 2. Or on a standard gules shafted sable a patriarchal cross argent; 3. per pale, a. azure a patriarchal cross or, b. gules an arm proper issuant from a cloud in dexter and holding a sword argent, on a chief of this quarter vert a lion argent.
  • * Rivoli for maréchal Masséna (1808)

  • Arms: Or a winged victory proper holding in one hand a palm and the other an olive crown vert, in base a dog couchant sable.
  • Valmy for maréchal Kellermann (1808, ext. 1868)

  • Arms: Per fess: Gules a crescent inverted argent, and Argent three rocks vert on each a mullet of five points gules.
  • * Albufera for maréchal Suchet (1813)

  • Arms: Quarterly of 8 in two rows of 4: 1, Or on four pallets gules three lance's heads argent; 2, Argent a tower with three turrets sable; 3, quarterly gules a tower sable and or a tree vert; 4, argent three pallets undy azure; 5, azure a galley of six oars between the letters S A G in chief and a dolphin and an escallop in base, all argent; 6, or on four pallets gules a lily argent; 7, Azure a tower with three turrets sable on a terrace vert; 8, Or five mullets of five points azure. Over all Gules a lion guardant passant over a wooden bridge all or, supporting an olive branch argent.

Other Dukedoms

  • Dalberg for Emmerich de Dalberg, nephew of the prince-primate of the Confederation of the Rhine (14 Apr 1810)
  • Decrès for admiral Decrès, minister of the Navy (28 Apr 1813; ext. 1820)

  • Arms: Azure three crescents argent, on the one in base an anchor or.
  • Navarre created by Letters Patent of April 9, 1810 for Joséphine after the divorce from Napoléon (Mar 11, 1810), with reversion to a son of Eugène de Beauharnais (note that the senatus-consulte of 16 Dec 1809 dissolving her marriage let her keep "the title and rank of crowned empress-queen"). on her death in 1814, she was succeeded by Auguste (1810-35), then his brother Maximilien (1817-52). At the latter's death the heir was his son by a Russian Imperial princess, and the French government refused to allow him to inherit the majorat since he was member of a foreign ruling house and could not take the required oath (decision of the Ministry of Finance, 1853; upheld by a decree of the Conseil d'Etat, Aug 10, 1858). The title has been considered extinct as a consequence. Navarre was a castle in Normandy, near Évreux; it had been built by a count of Évreux, king of Navarre; in the possession of the La Tour d'Auvergne family until 1801, it had become property of the French state in 1809.

  • Arms: Quarterly, 1: Azure an Imperial eagle displayed or holding a thunderbolt, 2-3: Azure a fess beneath three martlets in chief sable (Beauharnais), 4: argent three pallets vert. The successors added a chief of dukes of the Empire.

Titles in the Kingdom of Italy

Within the kingdom of Italy, Napoléon also created a hierarchy of titles, parallel to the French hierarchy, but all titles were titles "of the kingdom" as opposed to titles "of the Empire". Presidents of the Electoral Colleges three times in a row were dukes, Grand Officers of the crown, ministers, senators, Counselors of State were counts, etc (7th Constitutional Statute of Italy, Sept. 4, 1808). Two dukes, about 100 counts and as many barons were created. In 1812, holders of titles of previous regimes were invited to petition for a grant of a new title. A complete list is in Bascapè and Del Piazzo (1983).

The canton of counts was vert instead of azure, but the heraldry was otherwise identical.

Italian Dukedoms

  • Lodi, for Francesco Melzi d'Eril, Chancellor and Keeper of the Seals (20 Dec 1807; ext. 1816).

  • Argent an wreath of oak leaves vert and or fructed azure.
  • Litta, for Arese Antonio Litta, Grand Chamberlain (28 Feb 1810; ext. 1820).

  • Chequy or and sable, a chevron or beneath five mullets of 5 points argent,and a quarter vert.
  • Visconti for Visconti di Modrone, chmaberlain of the Emperor (Jan 1813)

Titles elsewhere

Napoléon's brothers and relatives in Spain, Naples, Holland, and Westphalia also created titles. The list of titles created in Naples is in Bascapè and del Piazzo (1983).

Napoleonic Heraldry

Titles of the 2nd Empire (1852-70)

On December 2, 1851, Napoléon I's nephew Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, president of the French Republic, took power by force and dissolved the National Assembly. On January 24, 1852 he restored titles of nobility which the Republic had abolished in 1848. A senatus-consulte of November 7, 1852 restored "the imperial dignity" vested it in Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, and made it hereditary in his direct legitimate descent, by male primogeniture. As with Napoleon I, Napoleon III was allowed to adopt a son from among the descent of the brothers of Napoleon I, but this ability was denied to any successor. An organic decree of December 18, 1852 named Jérôme Napoléon and the direct legitimate male issue of his marriage with Catherine of Wurttemberg as collateral successors after the Emperor's descent. A statute of June 21, 1853 reestablished most of Napoleon's rules for the imperial family, defined as the legitimate or adoptive descent of the emperor, and the other princes with succession rights, their spouses and legitimate descent. A referendum ratified the restoration of the Empire. Napoleon III reigned 18 years (1852-70).

Under the 2nd Empire a few more titles were created, and many titles were confirmed (although 114 out of 296 confirmations were for "titres de courtoisie", that is, illegitimate titles which had been in use for some period of time):

  • Princes: 2 confirmations (Essling and Moskowa)
  • Ducs: 4 creations, 10 confirmations and 1 foreign family
  • Marquis: 1 creation and 48 confirmations
  • Comtes: 40 creations and 79 confirmations
  • Vicomtes: 1 creation, 17 confirmations
  • Barons: 75 creations, 116 confirmation, 2 foreign families
  • Chevaliers: 24 confirmations
The heir to the throne was the Prince Impérial (Napoleon, 1856-79); at some point the title of Roi d'Algérie was mooted but never adopted.

Four titles of dukes were created:

  • Malakoff for maréchal Pélissier (1856, ext. 1864),

  • Arms
  • *Magenta for maréchal de Mac-Mahon (1859),

  • Arms
  • Morny for the uterine brother of the Emperor, president of the Corps Législatif (1863, ext. 1943)

  • Arms
  • Persigny for Fialin, minister of the Interior (1863, ext. 1885)

  • Arms
The first two titles are victory titles (from the Crimea War and the Campaign of Italy respectively). If you're wondering about Magenta, yes, the color's name has the same origin: it was discovered about that time by a patriotic French scientist. Napoléon III also modified the remainders for several titles of the 1st Empire to extend them to collateral or female lines (Auerstaedt, Otrante, Feltre, Abrantès).

Napoleon III's style was "Napoléon, par la grâce de Dieu et la volonté nationale, Empereur des Français".

References

I don't know of any good source in English, most writers in that language being understandably uninterested in the topic. The material is covered in Pastoureau's Traité. A complete armory of the Empire is Révérend, which also contains the full texts of the relevant laws and decrees, and a large number of plates; see also Tulard. See Bascapè and Del Piazzo for the Italian aspects of Napoleonic heraldry. A book on the Bonaparte family which discusses their arms is Valynseele. See also the plates in Neubecker's Heraldry (well, at least in the French edition...).
  • Bascapè, Giacomo and Marcello del Piazzo: Insegne e Simboli:Araldica Pubblica e Privata Medievale e Moderna. Roma, 1983: Ministero per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali.
  • Pastoureau, Michel: Traité d'Héraldique. (2ndEd.). Paris, 1993: Picard.
  • Révérend, A.: Armorial du Premier Empire. Paris,1894-97.
  • Tulard, Jean: Napoléon et la Noblesse d'Empire. Paris,1979.
  • Valynseele, J.: Le sang des Bonaparte. Paris, 1954.



 
 
 

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