"I Am The Throne!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, was from 1799-1815 the central figure of European history. His brilliant career resulted largely from his ability to seize or create opportunities, and his utterly unscrupulous methods to attain dominance. "Power," he said, "is never ridiculous." Few people in history have approached him in genius for action and administration, in fashioning circumstances and directing men for the object he had in mind. His first major defeat occurred in Russia in 1812. With his downfall near at hand in late 1813, the Allies virtually appealed over his head to the French people. To the Legislative Body, which Napoleon brusquely adjourned for conciliatory tendencies toward the enemy, he delivered a scathing denunciation. The statement "L'état c'est moi" ("I am the state"), commonly attributed to Louis XIV, was apparently first ascribed to him by Dulaure in his Histoire de Paris (1863). Both this unauthenticated remark and Napoleon's "Le trône c'est moi" symbolize the attitude of the two rulers toward absolute monarchy. In part, Napoleon said:

I am alone the Representative of the People. Twice have 24,000,000 . . . French called me to the throne: which of you durst undertake such a burden? . . . What, who are you? nothing–all authority is in the Throne; and what is the Throne? this wooden frame covered with velvet?–no, I am the Throne!