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.