Like everyone else, but apparently not as much as the those in power here in France, we hope that the museums and conference halls will soon be open so that the public can discover what organisers have been cooking up (sometimes years in advance). Let’s hope that the time is near. And while we wait, let’s spend the time online, viewing, reading and sharing our knowledge.
We just found out – ten days ago to be precise – that the President of the French Republic will participate in the bicentenary, in a way that is yet to be determined.
This obviously important participation provides confirmation that, contrary to what we sometimes hear, the French State has not turned its back on Napoleon. For the moment, the Musée de l’Armée, the Archives Nationales, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Malmaison, Fontainebleau, several prefectures and embassies, to name a few… have planned events, ceremonies, conferences and exhibitions (indeed the list of partners to “2021 Année Napoléon”, on fondationnanpoleon.org is expanding daily). These institutions and “decentralised services” are an integral part of the “French State” and have been acting for months with the agreement of their governmental and other superiors. It is true that, at times, backstage there are some murmurings or sudden reluctances. And there is surely going to be one of those famous pronouncements using the expression “but at the same time” so beloved of Emmanuel Macron, when the highest authorities have finally to open their mouths. But the fact remains: Napoleon will be ‘grandly’ commemorated throughout this “Année Napoléon”, this Year of Napoleon. And the associations, the municipalities, semi-public institutions, most television channels and, let us say, a large part of the Nation, will also be there.
The framework is there. Everything else now depends on us. In the end, are not the historians, the enthusiasts and the simply curious also “France”?
So let’s get on with the Year of Napoleon!
Thierry Lentz is director of the Fondation Napoléon.