In 1809 Napoleon signed a decree establishing a special status zone called the Illyrian Provinces (Slo: Ilirske province), subordinated directly to the French central government. It included western Carinthia with Villach, Gorizia, Trieste and its surroundings, Istria, part of Croatia with Karlovac, Dalmatia with Zadar, the Republic of Dubrovnik and Boka Kotorska. Ljubljana became the administrative and cultural capital of the provinces.
The purpose of this territorial formation was not to restore Slavic Illyria, as Valentin Vodnik wrote in Illyria Revived in 1811, but to create a buffer zone along the Adriatic coast, which would cut off German lands from the sea, and a direct land between France and the Middle East would be established across Istria and Dalmatia.
Despite the dissatisfaction of the Slovenian population with the severe economic crisis (trade with Austrian lands was hindered) and the new tax burden and the recruitment of men into the French Army, the four years of rule under the French authorities were still quite important for the development of the Slovenian language and culture.
The first governor-general of the provinces Marshal August Marmont, made sure that elementary and middle school levels were all in Slovene, while Valentin Vodnik was in charge of providing textbooks. For this he published first Slovenian grammar written in the Slovenian language - Literacy or grammar for first schools. He also became a headmaster at a lower secondary school and headmaster of folk and art schools.
The integration of the Slovene lands into the Illyrian Provinces had a significant impact on the development of the Slovenian nationalist movement. However in 1813 Austria, following Napoleon’s defeat, regained its full control and sovereignty of the Slovenian lands, while Valentin Vodnik got into trouble for his support to the French. He was banned from working in schools in 1815 and died four years later.