Much of the most original and important research in Napoleonic studies during the past forty years has concentrated on social structures. How well did the Empire assimilate the old nobility? How successfully did it advance the social status and professional expectations of other sorts of notables? What, within the Napoleonic social élites, was the relative importance of civilian and military notables? How did Napoleon’s system of rewards work? Where did he find the means to launch that system at all? Did he have what might be called a ‘social policy’, and if so, how lasting did it prove to be?
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