Draft of a triumphal arch in homage to the Grand Duke von Berg, Joachim Murat, at the town hall in Münster, 1808
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The traditional states, i.e. differently constituted territories of the empire, consisted of groups of people, institutions and corporations with very different laws that had grown over the centuries since the Middle Ages: the cities and rural communities, the guilds, monasteries and collegiate chapters, the nobility, civil servants and the military . Each group lived according to a different law. The unity of the state was embodied exclusively in the prince as head of state, throughout Germany in the person of the emperor.
In the Kingdom of Westphalia, legal equality should prevail in the face of this diversity - a uniform association for all residents with equal rights as “citizens”. Special rights, in other words “privileges”, were abolished. The totality of all people in a state was called a “nation” - after the French model. The definitions of the term nation had been rather general until 1790.
Beyond the fulfillment of traditional state tasks such as legal security and protection against external threats, which the triumphal arch planned in Münster in 1808 represents as a tribute, the concept of the "nation" was intended to create a bracket in the artificially created state and to obtain the consent of the residents, as King Jérôme put it in his homage speech on January 1, 1808. The constitution codified the legal rights, freedoms and participation rights of the "citizens".
The unity of the nation was achieved not only through state measures, such as through equal law, through the standardization of the state structure and through the dismantling of internal borders, but also through external demarcation: strengthening the borders with other nations. The media and state symbols were particularly important in order to win the public over to the state; Myths also played an important role.