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.
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.
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