The Napoleonic Empire came into existence following the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte as Emperor of France at Notre Dame in 1804. The frontiers of the ancien regime had been expanded up to and beyond France's natural borders, with the momentum of expansion following in direct correlation with the pace of France's military conquests under the leadership of Bonaparte himself. The 'Great Empire' is often referred to as a single entity embracing French controlled Europe, but territories were in fact separated depending on the levels of French control. Territory ruled directly from Paris was known as the pays reunis which compromised of France's natural frontiers (borders of the Rhine, Alps and Pyrenees) as well as annexed territories of Piedmont, Parma, Papal States and Holland after 1810. It was also divided into the pays conquis, which were nominally independent satellite states and formed a zone protecting the borders of the French Empire from attacks from countries such as Britain. These were ruled by Frenchmen who were usually close to Napoleon as a family member or as a close friend, such as Jerome Bonaparte who was King of Westphalia and Joachim Murat who was King of Naples. When discussing impact, the effects of Napoleon and his policies on factors such as economies, religion and nationalism in satellite states that composed the Napoleonic Empire will be taken into account, whether positive or negative on the states. .
Napoleon changed the running of countries in the European Empire to promote stability. For example, Napoleon appointed family members and close friends as leaders of countries within his Empire. His brother, Louis, is an example of this as he was placed on the throne by Napoleon following the Batavian Republic being replaced by the Kingdom of Holland in 1806. This can suggest that Napoleon planned to use the Empire as a method of gaining dynastic respectability as this links to the states of Naples, Westphalia and Spain where Napoleon's other brothers Jerome and Joseph ruled for periods of time.