Introduction: Never the Twain Shall Meet

  • Michael Broers


This is a book about Europeans treating each other badly under the first Napoleonic empire, in roughly a third of what is modern-day Italy. It was an imperial relationship. To study France and Italy under Napoleon in this way seems sensible, and the definition of imperialism by George Lichtheim best encapsulates the forced, unnatural relationship that developed in Italy: ‘If a country is invaded by a stronger power and its political institutions are destroyed or remoulded, that country is under imperial “domination”, the corollary of which is “a primary division” between state and society.’1 The raison d’être of this oppressive condition was essentially ideological, and fits a wider pattern of imperialism. Frank Ninkovich believes of America, ‘… the ideology that underlay imperialism to be … actually much deeper and more durable in the end than the economic and geopolitical strategies of successive administrations’.2 Ronald Robinson, too, saw the limited applicability of economic motives to imperial expansion, even during its ‘classic’ phase.3 More often, the modernising or civilising mission fuelled the practical work of imperial officials, as in the Philippines under American rule,4 or in the missionary zeal that marked an earlier Spanish imperialism in the New World.5


Political Culture Civil Code Italian Society French Revolution Early Modern Period 
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© Michael Broers 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Broers
    • 1
  1. 1.OxfordUK

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