Besterman Lecture 2022 – Professor Helena Rosenblatt (CUNY)

17/11/2022, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

We are delighted to announce that Professor Helena Rosenblatt (CUNY) is going to be our speaker for this year’s Besterman Lecture.

Professor Rosenblatt will speak on:


Napoleon’s Nemesis: Madame de Staël and the Origins of Liberalism

Among studies devoted to Napoleon, few give much attention to Germaine de Staël (1766-1817). Yet Madame de Staël was one of Napoleon’s most formidable opponents and played a decisive role in his downfall. On the eve of the Battle of Leipzig (1813), she was perhaps the most famous woman in Europe. So powerful was she that the emperor felt the need to censor her writings, harass her with his police, and, finally, exile her from France. Uncowed, she turned her home in Switzerland into an anti-Napoleonic bastion and devoted herself to assembling the coalition that would eventually defeat him. Not satisfied with that, she wrote a book meant to ensure that nothing similar to his rule would ever happen again.

The intertwined lives of Madame de Staël and Napoleon are not only the story of two fascinating individuals at a key moment in history. They are also the story of the emergence of a particular kind of liberalism that seems endangered today and of two types of democracy that are once again battling it out, one liberal and the other illiberal.


The lecture took place on Thursday 17 November, 5.00pm, at Examination Schools, East Writing School.

The lecture will be recorded but not live-streamed. The video can be watched here or on our YouTube channel.

Voltaire Foundation

We use cookies to help give you the best experience on our website. By continuing without changing your cookie settings, we assume you agree to this. Please read our cookie policy to find out more. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.