International Napoleonics Wargaming Club (iNWC)




200th Anniversary of the Kingdom of Westphalia and Jerome Bonaparte Exhibit

(Submitted by Wolfgang St. Johanser)



This is a special exhibit of images taken by one of our own members when he visited the a museum exhibit on the Kingdom of Westphalia and Jerome Bonaparte. These are scanned images from the pamphlets of many uniforms, portraits and other items from that time. All things are authentic.

The writing is in German but a general caption of what the image is are available.

A BIG Thank You to Wolfgang!!


~General Notes~

The Kingdom of Westphalia (1807-13):

There is currently some very interesting 200 year anniversary exhibitions in the capital cities of the former Rheinbund Principalities here in Germany. One of the most interesting was the one in Cassel, the capital of Napoleon's youngest brother Jerome and his Kingdom of Westphalia.

It is interesting to note that the displays portrayed Jerome and French rule in a better light, which is not often afforded to them in German history and culture.

The exhibition and the very interesting exhibition catalogue is titled "König
Lustik" (translated "King Funny"). It is said that Jerome's only words in broken German that he could speak were: "Morgen wieder Lustig?" (translated is something like: "will we have fun again tomorrow?". There are many such stories that were spread during his last month of his reign and after his flight in October 1813 to make a fool out of him who wasted all the money of his country, for his court and his many mistresses. Another story is that he only bathed in wine. After that he sold the wine to the local wine traders. Another tale says that during his flight in Oct 1813, he took his last wine bath on German soil and was almost caught by a patrol of Cossacks. He had to flee in his underwear but escaped, because the Cossacks got drunk from the wine in the bathtub and did not pursue him.

The positive aspects of Jerome's rule were almost forgotten and denied by the
more anti-French and growing German nationalistic mood in Germany after 1806. It is surprising that the Wesphalian rule was so unpopular if you remember that the citizens and common people endured the stupid and brutal Old Regime for so many centuries.

But from the beginning, the financial crisis, the ruthless and effective taxation system and the enormous costs for the about 25,000 soldiers of the Westphalian Army and the French garrisons on Westphalian soil, impoverished almost the whole country. The military conscriptions, the unpopular "French Wars" in which they often had to fight against their "German brothers", the loss of almost the whole Army in Russia in 1812 and the Peninsular, led to countless outbreaks of violence & uprisings, especially in the lower classes. In September /October 1813 with the arrival of the advance guard of the Allied Armies, law & order completely broke down and the King had to flee the Country.

A most important positive aspects are:

-introduction of a remarkable (for their time) modern constitution and the "Code Napoleon"

-the abolishing of the all remnants of the mediaeval serfdom

-the full emancipation of the Jews

- the medieval restrictions to choose a profession freely were abolished

-Army life for the common soldier was much better then it was under the rule of the Landgraves (Landgrafen) of Hessen-Cassel, the Dukes of Brunswick or the Prussians. (for example no Officer or NCO was not allowed to beat a common soldier)

-Under the Old regime the Landgraf of Hessen-Cassel sold his Soldiers to the British King to serve in America and a Prussian NCO or Officer Candidate could beat a simple soldier for any small offense until he was crippled or dead



Chapter 1: Jerome's early years.

Chapter 2: Westphalia under the Old Regime.

Chapter 3: 1806: Jena, Breslau, the Treaty of Tilsit & the creation of the Kingdom of Westphalia.

Chapter 4: Westphalia - Napoleon`s model German state.

The Royal Marriage

The Making of a King

Chapter 5: The year 1809.

Chapter 6 : The year 1813, Leipzig and the downfall of the Kingdom of Westphalia.

Chapter 7: Jerome's life after 1815 & his death - his role during the times of the 2nd French Empire & and his death.


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