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Napoleon’s bicentenary: Why celebrating the French emperor has become so controversial

By Clare Siviter, Lecturer in French Theatre and Performance, University of Bristol
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Napoleon Bonaparte may have died 200 years ago, but the vast ramifications of his rule can still be felt – and not only in France. This year marks the last in a series of bicentenaries since 1969, the 200th anniversary of his birth, but the chance to give the most famous emperor in French history another send-off is proving distinctly tricky – and not only because of COVID-19 restrictions.

This isn’t the first time that commemorating Napoleon or the events of his reign has posed a problem. In 2005, the then president of France, Jacques Chirac, and his prime minister, Dominique de Villepin…


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