Kingdom of Westphalia

The Kingdom of Westphalia was a kingdom in Germany, with a population of 2.6 million, that existed from 1807 to 1813. It included territory in Hesse and other parts of present-day Germany. While formally independent, it was a vassal state of the First French Empire and was ruled by Napoleon's brother Jérôme Bonaparte. It was named after Westphalia, but this was a misnomer since the kingdom had little territory in common with that area; rather the kingdom mostly covered territory formerly known as Eastphalia.

Kingdom of Westphalia
Royaume de Ouestphalie  (French)
Königreich Westphalen  (German)
Coat of arms
Motto: Character und Aufrichtigkeit
"Character and Honesty"
The Kingdom of Westphalia in 1812
StatusClient state of the French Empire
Common languagesGerman, French (official)
Low German (regional)
Roman Catholic
GovernmentAbsolute monarchy
Jérôme Bonaparte
Prime minister 
Joseph Jérôme, Comte Siméon
Historical eraNapoleonic Wars
9 July 1807
7 December 1807
19 October 1813
CurrencyWestphalian frank
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Electorate of Hesse
Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Kingdom of Hanover
Electorate of Hesse
Kingdom of Prussia
Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Today part ofGermany

Napoleon imposed the first written modern constitution in Germany, a French-style central administration, and agricultural reform. The Kingdom liberated the serfs and gave everyone equal rights and the right to a jury trial. In 1808 the Kingdom passed Germany's first laws granting Jews equal rights, thereby providing a model for reform in the other German states. Westphalia seemed to be progressive in immediately enacting and enforcing the new reforms.

The country was relatively poor but Napoleon demanded heavy taxes and payments and conscripted soldiers. Few of the men who marched into Russia with Napoleon in 1812 ever returned. The Kingdom was bankrupt by 1812. When Napoleon was retreating in the face of Allied advances in 1813, the Kingdom was overrun by the Allies and (in 1815) most of its territories became Prussian. Most of the reforms, however, remained in place.[1]

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