La bataille du sucre ou la défaite méconnue de Napoléon Ier
Artefact, 2018, p. 35-56
Napoleon was often portrayed as a promoter of sugar beet during the British embargo of 1806 but in reality his role could be summed up as political communication. In fact, support for sugar beet production originally came from the Prussian kings in the 18th century. At the start of the 19th century, some did produce sugar beet in France, especially in Lille, but the imperial rulers didn’t really care. Very much later, in March 1811, the Emperor became interested in sugar beet production, which up until then had largely been ignored by the French political authorities. He charged Montalivet, Home Secretary, to run a fully-fledged sugar campaign, but it turned out to be a failure, with the exclusion of the Lower Rhine, the Meurthe, the North and around Paris. Chaptal took over the job from Montalivet the following year but was no more successful. In 1813, few months before the fall of the Empire, due to military defeat, sugar beet production nearly disappeared from the country entirely.