Not So Criminal: New Understandings of Napoléon’s Foreign Policy in the East
2007, French Historical Studies
This article proposes a revision to the historiographical consensus that Napoleon's foreign policy was a boorish and uncompromising, even "criminal," enterprise. the east lured Napoleon all his life, not least because of the mania for the East and the heroes of classical antiquity during the enlightenment and because of the connected belief that victory in the east was the most glorious of military achievements. Strangely, however, after his failed campaign in Egypt in 1798 - 99 Napoleon never mounted any of the grand projects he continued to envisage for the East, most notably his various schemes to attack British India. Whereas historians tend, erroneously, to dismiss these ventures as unfeasible dreams, a close examination of Napoleon's diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire, Persia, and Russia reveals a self-restraint and a more conventional approach to his relations with these states, both attitudes of which Napoleon was supposedly incapable.