Kingdom of Italy

Napoleon I, King and Emperor 1805-1814

KM 695.8; Friedberg 519, PCGS graded AU-58

Rome. NAPOLEON EMPEREUR, head of Napoleon I left. Reverse: EMPIRE FRANCAISE above, 20/FRANCS in two lines within wreath, 1812 and crowned R below.

On May 26, 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned in Milan as Emperor of the French and King of Italy. Although he was content to make members of his family monarchs of other conquered territories, it was important to Napoleon to rule Italy in his own name since it symbolically indicated continuity of his new French Empire with both the old Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire of the Carolingian dynasty. Nevertheless, his need to subdue the rest of Europe meant that Rome and the new Kingdom of Italy had to be placed in the hands of his viceroy Eugène de Beauharnais. Although the bulk of the Napoleonic coinage struck in Italy was denominated in a new national unit—the lira—and featured Italian legends, the present coin was clearly struck for use beyond the borders of the Kingdom of Italy although it was clearly struck in Rome. The use of French legends and denomination in francs points to intended circulation outside of Italy yet the mintmark featuring a wolf suckling Romulus and Remus shouts out the origin of the coin at Rome.