AbstractThe multiple roles, images and interpretations of Napoleon make it difficult to develop a scholarly consensus about the nature of his rule. The essence of Napoleonic rule derives from a triangular relationship between Napoleon Bonaparte, the post-revolutionary French state and the Napoleonic Empire. Recent scholarship highlights the nature of the post-revolutionary French state and the impact of the Grand Empire on Europe. Even so, Napoleon remains central. His relentless warmongering required massive conscription, the cutting edge of the modern state, and produced the main contradictions of the Empire. No wonder the nature of his rule remains controversial.