On This Day in Napoleonic History – 8 January 1802

Napoleon and Josephine depart for Lyon

In Lyon the First Consul would be offered presidency of the new Italian Republic, made up of Cisalpine Republic and the provinces of Italy taken from Austria by the Treaty of Lunéville.

Napoleon’s two-week stay at Lyon was marked by parties, parades and receptions. On January 25 he was elected Chief Magistrate of the Italian Republic. Although the Italian nationalists were humbled by the fact that the new Republic had to be founded in France where Talleyrand could keep an eye on the proceedings, it was the first time that the word Italy had appeared in the political lexicon of Europe since the collapse of Rome in the 5th century AD.

Napoleon wrote a constitution for the new Republic with elective power resting in the hands of clergy, merchants, academics and land owners.

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