In 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte established the Kingdom of Holland in place of the Batavian Republic, crowning his brother Louis as the new king.

In an effort to endear himself to his adopted country, he tried to learn the Dutch language; he called himself Lodewijk I (adopting the Dutch form of his name) and declared himself Dutch rather than French. His Dutch was initially so poor that he told the people he was the Konijn van 'Olland ("Rabbit of 'Olland"), rather than Koning van Holland ("King of Holland"). However, his sincere effort to learn Dutch earned him some respect from his subjects.

Napoleon had intended for Holland to be little more than a puppet state, but Louis was determined to be as independent as possible, and in fact became quite popular amongst his new people. Growing tired of his brother's wilfulness, Napoleon annexed Holland into the French Empire in 1810, and Louis went into exile. His youngest son, Louis-Napoléon, established the Second French Empire in 1852, proclaiming himself Napoleon III.

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