Delve deeper into Napoleonic history here in our section on the history of the two empires. Alongside a section for those just starting, there are many articles, images with commentary, close-ups and special dossiers for the serious Napoleonic enthusiast.

Latest updates :

Timelines : The Mexican Campaign, 1862-1867
Dossier thématiques : A close-up on: the Mexican campaign, 1862-1867
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Napoleonic libraries, or libraries containing a substantial collection on the First and Second Empire

Marmottan Library

Paul Marmottan (1836-1932), heir to a coal-mining company, devoted his life as a historian to collecting documentation on Napoleonic administration and presence in Europe. His considerable library, which is added to on continual basis, is open to the public, in what used to be his country residence at Boulogne-Billancourt.

Address : Public entrance: 7, place Denfert-Rochereau - 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt - France

Telephone : +33 (0)1 41 10 24 70

Opening hours : Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 2pm-6pm
Saturday: 9.30am-midday and 2pm-5pm guided tours

Access : Open to the general public

Métro : Boulogne Jean Jaurès
Bus : 52 (get off at the Denfert-Rochereau stop)

Website : http://www.marmottan.com/fr/informations/bibliotheque_marmottan.asp

Online catalogue : no


Thiers Library

The Thiers library is part of the Dosne-Thiers Foundation. Since it was set up, in accordance with the wishes of its founder Félicie Dosne, it has also been attached to the library of the Institut de France. This specialises in the general, political, military, social and administrative history of France from 1789 to 1900.
It preserves one of the largest collections on the history of the First Empire.

Address : 27, place Saint-Georges - 75009 Paris France

Telephone : +33 (0)
Fax : +33 (0)

Opening hours : Library: Thursday and Friday from midday to 6pm.
Summer closure: for the entire month of August.

Access : Entrance limited

Métro : line 12 station Saint-Georges
Bus : 74
Parking by appointment in rue de Clauzel (50 spaces) and in the car park of Église de La Trinité (10/12 rue Pigalle)

Website : http://www.institut-de-france.fr/bibliotheques/thiers.htm

Online catalogue : no

Library of the Musée de l'Armée

Established at the beginning of the century, largely from donations and bequests (La Sabretache, Duc de Guise, Prince de la Moskova, certain garrison libraries etc), the collection is still being added to through purchases, exchanges and donations by individuals, authors and publishers. A large part of the collection from the old library at  the Hôtel des Invalides has, for its part, been handed over to the library of the École Supérieure de Guerre (École Militaire).

Address : Musée de l'Armée,
Hôtel national des Invalides
129 rue de Grenelle
75007 Paris France

Telephone : +33 (0)1 44 42 38 38

Opening hours : Closed for restoration work

Access : Entrance limited 

Métro : line 8 stations La Tour-Maubourg or Ecole Militaire, line 13 stations Varenne or Saint-François-Xavier
RER : line C station Invalides
Bus : 28, 49, 63, 69, 82, 87, 92

Website : http://www.invalides.org/

Online catalogue : no

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National Libraries

Bibliothèque nationale de France – Mitterrand site

National Collections :

Address : Quai François-Mauriac
75002 Paris

Telephone : +33 (0)1 53 79 59 59

Opening hours :
Open every day, except Mondays

Annual closure: September


Access : Haut-de-Jardin (Reference library) :
Open to all those 16 years and over

Rez-de-Jardin (Research library): entrance limited to accredited users, 18 years and over.

Three reader’s card rates: 1-day card, 15-day card, annual card 

Métro : line 6 (Quai de la gare), 14 (Bibliothèque François Mitterrand)
RER : line C (Bibliothèque François Mitterrand)
Bus : 62, 89 et 132

Website : http://www.bnf.fr

Online catalogue : yes, Bn-Opale-Plus (monographs, periodicals, printed and manuscript music scores, graphic documents, audiovisual material, cartographic documents, performing arts)


Bibliothèque nationale de France – Richelieu Site

National collections: maps and plans, prints and photographs, Eastern and Western manuscripts, performing arts.

Address : 58, rue de Richelieu
75002 Paris

Telephone : +33 (0)1 53 79 59 59

Opening hours : Open every day, except Mondays

Annual closure: September


Access: entrance limited to accredited users, 18 years and over

Three reader’s card rates: 1-day card, 15-day card, annual card

Métro : line 3 (Bourse), 1 et 7 (Palais Royal), 7 et 14 (Pyramides)
Bus : 20, 29, 39, 67, 74, 85

Website : http://www.bnf.fr

Online catalogue : yes, Bn-Opale-Plus (monographs, periodicals, printed and manuscript music scores, graphic documents, audiovisual material, cartographic documents, performing arts)


Bibliothèque nationale de France –Library of the Arsenal

The library of the Arsenal, located in the Bastille district, is the former residence of the  Grand Master of the Artillery who built up a vast and encyclopaedic collection of books, manuscripts, prints and so forth at the Arsenal, which he opened to scholars and men of letters.
Confiscated during the Revolution, and declared a public library in 1797, the library of the Arsenal was made part of the Bibliothèque nationale in 1934.
The collections comprise ancient manuscripts, a rich and encyclopaedic collection of medieval and modern manuscripts, prints, inherited from the Master of the Artillery and resulting from confiscations made during the Revolution.
From 1880 on, a modern collection of printed material and periodicals has been orientated towards history and literature.
In more recent years, it has focused on French literature (texts, history and literary criticism) of the 16th-19th centuries, and on the history of the book.

Address : 1 rue Sully
75004  Paris

Telephone : +33 (0) .

Opening hours : Open every day, except Mondays

Annual closure: September


Access: entrance limited to accredited users, 18 years and over

Three reader’s card rates: 1-day card, 15-day card, annual card

Métro : line 7 (Sully Morland)
Bus : 67, 86, 87

Website : http://www.bnf.fr

Online catalogue : yes, Bn-Opale-Plus (monographs, periodicals, printed and manuscript music scores, graphic documents, audiovisual material, cartographic documents, performing arts)


British Library

Official site, online catalogues

Website : http://www.bl.uk

Online catalogue : yes


German National Library (Deutsche Nationalbibliothek)

Access to the catalogues of the libraries of Frankfurt and Leipzig.

Website : http://www.ddb.de

Online catalogue : yes


Swiss National Library

Official, multilingual site

Website : http://www.snl.ch

Online catalogue : yes


Royal Library of Belgium

Official site: history of the library, the different collections, and online catalogues

Website : http://www.kbr.be

Online catalogue : yes


National Library of Florence (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale Firenze)

One of two Italian national libraries (the second is in Rome).

Website : http://www.bncf.firenze.sbn.it

Online catalogue : yes


National Library of Spain (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

The site gives access to all practical information concerning access to the library and allows consultation of the general catalogue.

Website : http://www.bne.es

Online catalogue : yes


National Library of Portugal (Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal)

This site gives general information on the National Library of Portugal and allows online consultation of its catalogues.

Website : http://www.bn.pt

Online catalogue : yes


Library of Congress

The library of the American Congress, copyright library for the USA, is one of the largest libraries in the world.

Website : http://www.loc.gov

Online catalogue : yes


The New York Public Library

Encyclopaedic collection in every language

Website : http://www.nypl.org/index.htm

Online catalogue : yes

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Historical libraries

Catalogue of specialised municipal libraries in the City of Paris

Online catalogue regrouping: Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris (BHVP), Bibliothèque administrative de la ville de Paris, Bibliothèque des Archives de Paris, Bibliothèque des Arts graphiques, Bibliothèque du Cinéma, Bibliothèque Forney, etc.

Some of these libraries are in the process of being computerized.

Website : http://bspe-p-pub.paris.fr/Portail/Website /ParisFrame.asp?lang=FR

Online catalogue : yes


Genealogical Library of France

This association’s site makes it possible to consult the library’s catalogue: publications, specialist genealogical periodicals, studies and family files. To go into more depth and consult other resources (marriage registers, parish records etc) it is necessary to obtain a reader’s card.

Research is possible only via the website, there is no consultation available on-site. The association will send out photocopies to order, for a fee.

Website : http://www.bibgen.org

Online catalogue : yes

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Collective library catalogues

CCF –Collective catalogue of France

The CCF makes it possible to consult three catalogues at once: bn-Opale-Plus (catalogue of the Bibliothèque nationale de France), Système universitaire de documentation (French university libraries and libraries of other higher educational institutions in France) and the Base patrimoniale (other French libraries), as well as the catalogues of municipal libraries.

Country : France

Website : http://ccfr/bnf/fr


SUDOC – Système universitaire de documentation

This is both a collective catalogue and directory of resource centres, which regroups French university libraries, and the libraries of higher educational and research institutions.

This portal makes it possible to locate monographs and periodicals anywhere throughout France.

Country : France

Website : http://corail.sudoc.abes.fr


The European Library

Official site of European national libraries. This portal gives access to the online catalogues of 43 national libraries in Europe. It makes it possible to consult nine national catalogues simultaneously (Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy [Rome and Florence], Finland, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom).

Country : Europe

Website : http://www.theeuropeanlibrary.org/portal/index.html


KVK – Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog

This service, designed by the University Library of Karlsruhe (Germany), makes it possible simultaneously to consult several dozen national collective catalogues, the catalogues of national libraries, and commercial booksellers’ catalogues online. There is an English-language user interface.

Country : Europe, Northern America, Australia

Website : http://www.ubka.uni-karlsruhe.de/kvk/kvk/kvk_fr.html



C'est un catalogue collectif international, créé par l'OCLC, qui regroupe quelques 9 000 bibliothèques participantes à ce réseau d'échanges de notices. L'orientation est plutôt anglo-saxonne.

Country : Amérique du Nord, Australie, Europe,

Website : http://www.worldcat.org



Portal permitting simultaneous consultation of the computerized catalogues of the United Kingdom’s university libraries, as well as the catalogue of the British Library and of the National Library of Scotland.

Country: United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland

Website : http://www.copac.ac.uk



Collective catalogue of the public libraries of Spain. It is possible to consult the catalogues all at once, or separately, by region.

Country: Spain

Website : http://www.mcu.es/bibiotecas/index.html


ICCU – Catalogo Unico delle Biblioteche Italiane e per le Informazioni Bibliografiche

This collective catalogue regroups most of the major libraries of Italy. It is split into three sections: modern books (after 1830), old books (pre-1830) and music.

Country: Italy

Website : http://www.internetculturale.it/moduli/opac/opac.jsp


CHVK – Swiss Virtual Catalogue

Collective catalogue of the Swiss libraries. Multilingual consultation.

Pays : Switzerland

Website : http://www.chvk.ch/vk_schweiz_fr.html

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Digital libraries

Fondation Napoléon: Books online

Digitalised works placed on line by the Fondation Napoléon, from the collections.

Website : http://digitalbooks.napoleon.org/book/index_eng.html


Bibliothèque nationale de France : Gallica

France’s richest digital library: more than 150,000 references.

Website : http://gallica.bnf.fr/


Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM) : CNUM

The Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers has put online part of its specialist collection on the history of science and technology, under the name CNUM (Conservatoire Numérique des Arts et Métiers)

Website : http://cnum.cnam.fr


Bibliothèque InterUniversitaire de Médecine (BIUM) ! Medic@

More than 4,000 works (in particular theses), unabridged.

Website : http://www.bium.univ-paris5.fr/histmed/debut.htm

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National archives

Occupying three sites, these archives are designed to preserve, classify and disseminate the documents produced by the government and central administration of the French State.
The Paris site holds the archives of the institutions of the Ancien Régime and those after the French Revolution, as well as the drafts of Parisian lawyers and private archives.
The Fontainebleau site contains the archives of the central organs of the State since the beginnings of the Fifth Republic.

The Pierrefitte-sur-Seine site, under construction, is due to open in 2010. It will house the entire archives post-dating the French Revolution.

General address : 60 rue des Francs-bourgeois
75003 Paris

Telephone (switchboard) : +33 (0) 1 40 27 64 19

Opening hours :

Access : Entrance to the reading room of the Archives of the Armée de Terre is by appointment only.

Métro : line 1 et 11 (Hôtel de Ville)
Bus : 29 (Rue Vieille du Temple), 75 (Archives – Rambuteau)

Website http://www.archivesnationales.culture.gouv.fr


SHD - Service Historique de la Défense

In a collection dating from the 17th century on, the historical defence archives form a huge resource available to researchers. They comprise several sections : Ground, Air, Sea and Police force.
But beware, the SHD is located in several different cities: Vincennes, Cherbourg, Brest, Lorient, Rochefort, Toulon, Châtellerault and Caen.

General address : Service historique de la défense
BP 166
00468 Armées

Telephone (switchboard): +33 (0)1 41 93 22 57

Opening hours : the reading rooms have variable opening times: http://www.servicehistorique.sga.defense.gouv.fr/

Access : Entrance to the reading room of the archives of the Armée de Terre is by appointment only.

Métro : line 1, (Château de Vincennes)
Bus : 46, 56, 114, 118, 124, 210, 318, 325

Website : http://www.servicehistorique.sga.defense.gouv.fr/





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