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2003-2004 Visiting Fellows

Michael Broers
University of Aberdeen

I. Context & Purpose of the Fellowship. The main purpose of my award was to explore the holdings of the manuscript collection of the Eugène de Beauharnais Archive (C0645), in connection with a monograph I am writing, to be published by Palgrave-Macmillan, in the Fall, entitled The Napoleonic Empire in Italy, 1796-1814. Eugène de Beauharnais was Napoleon's step-son, and he was entrusted with the role of Viceroy of Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy, centered on modern day Milan, Bologna and Venice, and the surrounding countryside. Eugène spent most of his time in Italy, while Napoleon visited only briefly and intermittently, making the Viceroy probably the most senior figure in northern and central Italy. (The south was ruled as a separate kingdom.) Therefore, any study of Napoleonic Italy should include consultation of the Beauharnais Archive, although I am often surprised at how few actually have done so.

II. The research targets of the Fellowship. My own research targets in the Beauharnais Archive were very specific, because of the nature of my project. My monograph is not about the Kingdom of Italy, as such, but covers that considerable part of Italy annexed directly to France: Liguria, Parma, Tuscany and the Papal states. These were not the regions Eugène was directly responsible for; however, as the senior figure in Napoleonic Italy, Napoleon put him in indirect control of the annexation of each of these areas. Therefore, the French officials in charge of these annexations wrote directly to Eugène, in the first months after annexation. To this end, I targeted two sections of the archive: Correspondence and Military Reports. Both yielded important findings, but the former held more than the latter. My main sources were the letters written to Eugène by the following French officials: Menou, Reille (both for Tuscany), Radet (Tuscany and Parma), Moreau (Parma), Miollis (Tuscany and Rome), Mejean, Pino (general security matters). Of the military reports, I concentrated on those periods when the French faced disorder and revolts in Parma and Tuscany: 1805-1808. In the time the Fellowship gave me, I was able to cover all this ground, thoroughly and without haste, and to absorb the findings into the main body of my research with great profit. It was an entirely successful research trip.

III. The findings in the context of the wider project. Sources Consulted: (I) Correspondence: Boxes 8, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19 (II) Military Reports: Boxes 37, 38, 47 The Beauharnais Archive proved an extremely valuable source for The Napoleonic Empire in Italy; no time was lost or wasted, and virtually every box yielded something not only of interest, but of direct relevance. It must be stated, however, that the nature of the sources - correspondence directed at one person - would not have seemed as valuable as it was, at an earlier stage in my research. The Correspondence, especially, gave me important insights into the early stages of French rule in each of the areas occupied: Parma: This region saw a serious peasant revolt at the very start of French rule. Eugène was charged with investigating its causes, and the letters to him from Radet, Moreau, Pino and Mejean were excellent. Those from Radet, in particular, gave me fresh insights into a problem I have been studying for some time. In the Military Reports, I discovered an account of the outbreak of the revolt that I am quite sure does not exist anywhere else. Tuscany: The sources here were not quite as valuable as I had hoped, but I can now say definitively, that certain assertions made about the early occupation are not grounded in the sources. There were still some valuable facts gleaned from it, however, about the problems within the administration the French inherited. Rome: The Miollis letters were an excellent source on the first weeks of the French occupation, offering a blow-by-blow, day-by-day account in some detail, of the orchestrated campaign of passive, non-violent resistance organized by the Pope, in protest at the French occupation. This evidence has proved very important, in my analysis of this phenomenon, and provided important background for the research I have already done on its later manifestations. I now know about its roots. Over all, the Beauharnais Archive has made a very important contribution to my monograph, and many of its sources will be cited in the notes and the text. The timing of the visit, in the final stages of my project, was perfect, given the nature of the sources.

Summary It remains for me to thank the Friends of the Library for their kind generosity, and to thank the staff of the Manuscripts section for all their help, friendliness and professionalism. This is one of the best organized, friendliest and most efficient archives I have ever had the privilege to work in. My targets were met, and the precise ordering of the archive and its Search Guide, were exemplary, and speeded my work greatly.

September 2003


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