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University of Groningen brings Napoleon to Veendam

05 November 2013

‘The Legacy of Napoleon’ conference on the influence of Napoleon on Dutch society

On 28 November the University of Groningen is holding a conference in Cultuurcentrum Van Beresteyn in Veendam on the influence of Napoleon on Dutch society today. Various speakers from the Netherlands and abroad will examine the legacy of the diminuitive emperor as statesman, legislator and inventor. ‘Napoleon tends to be remembered for his catastrophic battles, but in retrospect he was one of the greatest statesmen of Europe’, says Dr Tineke Looijenga, one of the organizers of the conference.

Not a penny from Groningen gas due to Napoleon

A particularly topical subject at the conference is today’s Mining Act, which was implemented by Napoleon. He ruled that the State (and therefore not the landowner) has the rights to minerals below the surface. This has meant that the residents of the gas-production area in the province of Groningen have not earned anything from the gas field. The French geologist and professor emeritus of the VU University Amsterdam Jacques Touret and professor emeritus of the University of Groningen and legal history specialist Jan Lokin will shed some light on this matter.
Poster Napoleon

Varied programme

The conference has a very varied programme with lectures on many interesting topics. There will also be plenty of time for discussion.

Cultural historian Thomas von der Dunk, for example, will talk about the influence that Napoleon has had on the process of state-building in the Netherlands and Europe. He will also talk about the effects of the Napoleonic system on the role of the king, parliament, culture and science.

Mart van Lieburg, Professor of Medical History at Erasmus University Rotterdam and at the University of Groningen, will provide the audience with a glimpse of surgery on the battlefield. Napoleon changed the world and this is also true for military medicine and surgery.

The story of the liberation of Delfzijl is also interesting. This was the last place in the Netherlands to be freed from French occupation. Historian Franz Lenselink has an extraordinary anecdote about this.


Alongside the conference, an exhibition has been set up at the Veenkoloniaal Museum in Veendam. The exhibition uses the themes Standardizing, In the Army, Governance and the Continental System to demonstrate Napoleon’s legacy. Some examples of this are the metric system, military service, the introduction of the population register and agricultural development. The Heimatmuseum in Leer will cover the same themes in a concurrent exhibition, but this time from the German perspective.

Anyone interested in the conference and the exhibition can register at the Veenkoloniaal Museum in Veendam.
Last modified:06 September 2021 3.04 p.m.
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