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"Empire of the French" and "Napoleonic Empire" redirect here. For the empire led by Napoleon III from 1852–1870, see Second French Empire.

The First French Empire (French: Empire Français), also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century.

On 18 May 1804, Napoleon was granted the title Emperor of the French (L'Empereur des Français, pronounced: [lɑ̃.pʁœʁ dɛ fʁɑ̃.sɛ]) by the French Sénat and was crowned on 2 December 1804, ending the period of the French Consulate and of the French First Republic. The French Empire won early military victories in the War of the Third Coalition against Austria, Prussia, Russia, Portugal and allied nations, notably at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 and, during the War of the Fourth Coalition, at the Battle of Friedland in 1807.

A series of wars, known collectively as the Napoleonic Wars, extended French influence over much of Western Europe and into Poland. At its height in 1812, the French Empire had 130 departments, ruled over 44 million subjects, maintained an extensive military presence in Germany, Italy, Spain, and the Duchy of Warsaw, and could count Prussia and Austria as nominal allies. Early French victories exported many ideological features of the French Revolution throughout Europe: the introduction of the Napoleonic Code throughout the continent increased legal equality, established jury systems and legalised divorce, and seigneurial dues and seigneurial justice were abolished, as were aristocratic privileges in all places with the exception of Poland.


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