"Napoleon and the British" by Stuart Semmel

Napoleon and the British Stuart Semmel

Publication date:
11 Oct 2004
Yale University Press
368 pages: 235 x 156mm
14 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


What did Napoleon Bonaparte mean to the British people? This engaging book reconstructs the role that the French leader played in the British political, cultural, and religious imagination in the early nineteenth century. Denounced by many as a tyrant or monster, Napoleon nevertheless had sympathizers in Britain. Stuart Semmel explores the ways in which the British used Napoleon to think about their own history, identity, and destiny.

Many attacked Napoleon but worried that the British national character might not be adequate to the task of defeating him. Others, radicals and reformers, used Napoleon’s example to criticize the British constitution. Semmel mines a wide array of sources—ranging from political pamphlets and astrological almanacs to sonnets by canonical Romantic poets—to reveal surprising corners of late Hanoverian politics and culture.

Stuart Semmel is assistant professor of history at the University of Delaware.

'Semmel succeeds admirably in re-examining British opinions of Napoleon. On a historiographical level, he also gives a significant critique to the overemphasis on loyalist sentiment in early nineteenth-century Britain. ... The history of British opinions of Napoleon turns out to be less simple than we thought.' - Noah Shusterman,