December 2 - 1804 - The Coronation of Napoleon

By 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte was already the head of government in France, and had been for five years. Yet he wanted to elevate his status in the nation, as being the First Consul for Life in the French Republic did not confer the power he sought. Napoleon rose to power by being the best general in the Revolutionary French Army, then helping out a coup in 1799 to overthrow the Diretcory, and the taking control of the three person French Consulate. Still, he took a larger step. First, a referendum was placed before the French people, asking if they wished to have Napoleon as Emperor of the French, a brand new office. His coronation ceremony showed both how much Napoleon was seeking to continue revolutionary ideals, while also emphasizing the traditional aspects of monarchy. He was crowned in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in the presence of Pope Pius VII; French Kings were traditionally crowned by the Archbishop of Reims in Reims Cathedral. Napoleon emphasized the role of religion and his fealty to the Catholic Church, but made a point to place his crown (a brand new creation he called "The Crown of Charlemagne") on his own head. Most importantly, Napoleon created a new office for himself that had all the trappings of traditional authority.

William Floyd