On This Day in Napoleonic History – 5 June 1806

louis-bonaparte-1Napoleon appoints his brother, Louis Bonaparte, as the King of Holland

Louis identified with his new subjects and tried to be a good monarch. He continued the unification of the country from federated provinces, abolished ancient guilds in 1808 and rationalised justice system in 1809. ‘From the moment I set foot on Dutch soil, I became Dutch,’

Louis once said. He went as far as putting the interests of Holland before those of France, which led to an increasingly deep conflict with his brother Napoleon that lasted four years, up until Louis’ forced abdication. Napoleon wrote hundreds of letters to Louis, reprimanding him for being too good-natured and demanding that Louis become a tough, uncompromising monarch that Napoleon needed: ‘If you continue to govern by whining, if you allow yourself to be bullied, you will be even less use to me than Grand Duke of Baden is. You tire me needlessly. Your ideas are narrow and you have little interest in common cause. Only women cry and complain. Men take action.’

Considering Napoleon’s low opinion of his brother’s leadership ability, it is surprising that Louis stayed on the throne for as long as he did.