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The Napoleon Series > Government > Almanacs




By Tom Holmberg

The beginning of 1810 saw the French Empire at its apogee. The battle of Wagram had put an end to the Fifth Coalition against France. One British army had been forced from Spain and another from Walcheren. Even the British victory at Talavera was an empty one, with the eventual British withdrawal to the frontiers of Portugal and the Spanish defeated at Ocaa. By the end of 1809 Napoleon had divorced Josephine and was soon to marry Marie Louise, a daughter of the Austrian Emperor. The parvenu Napoleon had joined the concert of Kings.

The volume of the Almanach Imprial presented here reflects the French Empire at its height. Here is the broad extent of the civil and military establishment of Napoleon's Empire. It is an important and unique source on the organization and personnel of the Empire.

Under the ancien rgime the official almanac, which began publication in 1700 was known as the Almanach Royal (the name it was published under after the Restoration). During the Revolution it was transformed into the Almanach National de France. From 1804 to 1813 it was the Almanach Imprial. Interestingly, the publishing firm of Testu published issues of all three post-ancien rgime titles.

Under the ancien rgime almanacs, besides the "official Almanach Royale, were published in many diverse forms, astrological and those presenting the church and civil calendar were joined in the 17th century by almanacs featuring poetry, rebuses, and puns. Later burlesque and erotic almanacs appeared, as well as those featuring genealogical, military or administrative subjects, and those intended to aid farmers and gardeners. With the Revolution appeared the political almanacs serving as propaganda for different the faction. The most famous of which was the Almanach de Pre Grard, work of Collot d'Herbois. Collot d'Herbois's almanac was the winner of a contest held by the Jacobins for a work to explain the new Constitution to the peasantry in the countryside. On average 50 to 60 almanacs were published between 1789 and 1794, but only from 20 and 30 between 1795 and 1799.

So even the publication of almanacs had political implications. On October 20, 1807 Napoleon wrote to Champagny, the French Foreign Minister, complaining that Almanach de Gotha listed "the comte de Lille [the exiled future Bourbon King of France, Louis XVIII] and all of the princes of the Confederation as if there had not been made any change in the constitution of Germany." In the future, Napoleon ordered, the Almanach de Gotha must list "the House of France as in the Almanach Imprial."

Using the Almanac.

We have chosen not to translate the Almanach into English. Since it consists mainly of names, places, titles and dates, even those without even a rudimentary knowledge of French should be able to navigate their way through the book armed only with a good French-English dictionary. All names, titles and places are, of course, given in their French versions. In order to most accurately reproduce possible original work, we have also decided to preserve the peculiarities of the French of the day such as the 'oi' instead of 'ai' as in 'pouvoit' or the plural of 'ent' in the form 'ens' as in 'dpartemens.' We have not corrected errors of the editors such as the misspelling 'Wasington' or the sometimes odd transliterations of foreign names.

Common abbreviations found in the Almanach include:

S.M. = Sa Majest

S.M.I.R. = Sa Majest Impriale et Royale

S. Exc. = Son Excellence

Where ellipses () are placed instead of a name, the information was blank in the Almanach Imprial, indicating the position was unfilled or the holder was unknown at the time of publication.

The names of public servants, who were also members of the Legion of Honor, are listed in the Almanach followed by these signs:

Grand Officers decorated with the Grand Eagle, (G.A. ).

Grand Officers, (G. ).

Commandants, (C. ).

Officers, (O. ).

And Knights, .

Titles granted by His Majesty the Emperor of the French, and the promotions made to Legion of Honor during the printing this Work, could not be indicated this year.

Bibliographic Record:

Almanach Imprial, pour l'Anne M. DCCC. X, prsent a s. m. l'Empereur et Roi, par Testu. Paris, Chez Testu et cie, 1810.