France Directory Laws – History HW

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France Directory Laws – History HW

The key terms of History Exam include, France, Directory, Laws, Documents, Government, Napoleon.



Explain ‘The Consulate’:

The Consulate had three assemblies:
– The Council of State drew up laws and other documents related to the running of the state.
– The Tribunate discussed these bills, but had no power to vote on them
– The Legislative Assembly voted on the bills, but was allowed to discuss (and therefore change) them.
– Real authority lay with the three consuls, of which Napoleon was the most powerful.


Describe Napoleon as the First Consul:

– Napoleon shared nominal power with the two other consuls although in reality he was the leader of the Consulate and almost had total control.
– A new constitution confirmed Napoleon’s power giving him the right to appoint minsters, as well as national and local officials who would be responsible to him.
– Within five years, he had transformed politics in France and imposed his will on the entire nation. Many historians believe that his period marked the height of Napoleon’s domestic achievements.
– Napoleon did not have any single ideology unlike Lenin devoted to Marxism or Hitler who supported Nazism. He adopted ideas he felt would ensure order and efficiency although it meant accepting contradictions.
– Napoleon’s laws in theory guaranteed equality however they favored particular social groups such as employers over workers, or men over women.
– The rule of the law was proclaimed but Napoleon used his powers, sometimes illegally to crush opposition.
– Napoleon claimed to rule by the will of the people- a revolutionary ideal, he justified his government through the will of God (divine right), a claim made by the monarchs of the ancien régime.


What problems did The Directory face?

– The treasury was empty and the government was almost bankrupt.
– The continuing war with foreign monarchies was expensive
– Factions after the Reign of Terror still existed
– Royalists, Jacobins and moderate republicans continued to fight for their own agendas. These internal divisions helped The Directory to survive-the lack of co-operation between other political groups meant that none of them was strong enough to challenge the new government.


Explain the actions of the Directory:

– The Directory had the support of the army. If the Royalists won back control of France, the war against Austria would end and many soldiers would be unemployed.
– The Directory needed the army to put down the uprisings carried out by dissatisfied groups.
– The government could not escape the opposition of the Jacobins and other radicals, who believed that members of the Directory had betrayed the Revolution,
– Anger increased after winter in 1795-96 led to a shortage of food: Riots broke out and were calls for the 1795 constitution- by which The Directory ruled to be abolished. The Directory called on the army to suppress the Revolts and the National Guard; formerly a focus of lower-class agitation was reformed to bring it under control.
– The Jacobins were not defeated yet though- in 1796 they launched a plot to overthrow the Directory and replace it with a “Republic of Equals”
– The Babeuf Plot was well organized. The rebels issued a newspaper to spread their ideas and gather support, and began stockpiling weapons in preparation for the fight ahead.
– However, police spies uncovered the plot and the Jacobin Leaders were arrested. Babeuf was executed.
– Although the Babeuf plot failed and The Directory survived, by 1797 it was becoming isolated.
– Having excluded both extreme wings of opinion (royalists and Jacobins), it now began to lose the support of the moderates too, mainly due to its reliance on the army.
– Successive elections saw the return of Critics into the racks of the Directory, including Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès.


Explain the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte:

– The Directory perused an active foreign policy to satisfy the army and win popular support: two armies were sent to Austria, one in the North and the other in the South to attack Austrian-controlled parts of Italy.
– The southern army was led by a young commander Napoleon Bonaparte creating an outstanding success in the Italian campaign cemented his reputation bringing him wide public attention in France.
The government wanted to weaken the British influence in the Mediterranean- an underlying motive for his campaign to keep Napoleon out of France since his popularity was considered a threat.
– The plan backfired, after his defeat he was still welcomed back to France in triumph.

What was the situation with the Directory by 1799 and what did Napoleon do to solve this?

– By 1799 the Directory was in disarray: Directors were plotting against each other and against other groups
– Napoleon himself had ambitions to play a political role.
– Napoleon with two of his directors proposed changed to the 1795 Constitution; the Directory’s Council rejected them.
– Napoleon called on his loyal soldiers to impose his will and established a Consulate. He was the chief of the three consuls who now controlled France.


Describe Napoleon’s youth:

– Napoleon was born in Corsica a year after France gained control of the island from Genoa. The Bonaparte family was minor nobility, their fortunes dwindled and were poor by the time Napoleon was born.
– Napoleon had a talent for mathematics creating an advantage when he entered the army along with a special interest in artillery rather then cavalry.
– His mathematical skills gave him insight into the practical needs of an army such as training, supplies, map-reading, use of guns.


What was the situation of The Directory in 1799?

– By 1799, the Directory was accused of inefficiency and corruption, and lost popularity due to the failure of several foreign campaigns.
– Support grew for a return for a monarchy although on the opposite side of the political divide were the Jacobins, who demanded the return of the more radical policies that had been introduced earlier in the revolution.
– A danger a civil war would break out was increasing; Napoleon saw his chance and with the help of the army seized power, which became known as the coup of 18 Brumaire, the date of the revolutionary character.


How did Napoleon overthrow the Directory?

– The director Sieyès supported Napoleon and began moves to limit the power of the Five Hundred
– The council was blamed for the loss of government control in the provinces and the failures of France’s foreign wars, many people still supported it, believing it was democratic nature was true to the principles of the revolution.
– Napoleon encouraged members of the council to back Sieyès reforms however they were unwilling to relinquish their control and the plan failed.
– Napoleon was under the fear this might damage his reputation thus he and his brother Lucien rounded up military support and dispersed members of the Council by force.
– Sieyès used Napoleon’s influence to serve his own agenda; the director underestimated the ambitious general.
– The Directory was replaced by the Consulate- a smaller body, intended to be more efficient- Napoleon ensured tat he was appointed “First Council”
– Sieyès was also a consul but had a far less influence, making this Napoleon’s first decisive step towards complete power in France.


What social changes regarding gender did Napoleon make?

– Much of the male population of France benefited from Napoleon’s reforms, as the same laws applied to all people, whatever their class: Women were not considered a significant political force at this time, and Napoleon’s social policies reflected this attitude:
– Many of the rights the women had been granted in 1789 had been reversed.
– The authority of a husband over his wife and children were restored.
– Married women were ordered to obey their husbands and were prevented from making legal contracts.
– Women were allowed to seek divorce, but on much more restricted terms than man.
– Historians argue that Napoleon was no different than from many other European rulers at that time.
– Apart from the radical revolutionaries in France, few people supported women’s rights, believing that the traditional structure of the family- under the rule of the husband was the very foundation of society.
– Women had fewer rights under Napoleon than they did under the revolutionary governments that came before them, but they were no worse off than most women in Europe at the start of the 19th century.


Explain Napoleon during the Revolution:

– Napoleon’s career survived the uncertainty of the revolutionary years,he remained loyal to his new masters when other royalist officers refused to swear allegiance to the revolutionary authorities after 1789.
– Napoleon was dispatched with his artillery troops to defend the region when Britain sent support to counter-revolutionaries to the southern port of Toulon and his skillful and courageous actions contributed to the successful defense of Toulon making a turning point in his career.
– Napoleon was politically close to the Jacobins during the Reign of Terror although it was a risky alliance.
– During Robespierre’s execution, Napoleon was released quickly by the Directory as they realized his military talents could be put to good use.
– Napoleon was sent to northern Italy, which increased his reputation as he conducted bold and successful campaigns.
– The Treaty of Campo Formio (1797) giving France power in Italy and money for its treasury.
– Napoleon was regarded as France’s best general although his growing ambitions were seen as a threat to the Directory.
– Napoleon was enthusiastic about a plan to take control of Egypt- a link between Britain and it’s eastern empire in India, a possibility of gaining a colony for France and winning this ancient civilization would bring prestige to France and Napoleon.
– The Egyptian campaign was a failure- the British commander Admiral Horatio Nelson destroyed the French fleet during the Battle of Nile.
– Propaganda of the events in Egypt ensured that Napoleon returned to France a hero instead of harming his reputation.


What was the Napoleonic Code?

– Southern France relied on Roman law while the north tended to follow a common (customary) law. There were differences in property laws and in the powers of courts throughout the different regions.
– The lack of coherence created an uncertainty for governments and generated confusion among the population, particularly in areas that used both the roman and common law.
– Napoleon issued a code of law to replace the complex government system existing at that time. Many of these laws were based on ancient traditions, others came from regional customs, and still the Church dictated others. He took personal interest in the process.
– Napoleon used men of talent; they had to be efficient and reliable no matter their background.
– The outcome of this was the Napoleonic Code giving the country a common set of laws that were imposed by Napoleon and could not be challenged by traditions and local rights.
– The Napoleonic code included reforms that has been introduced at the start of the revolution: there was equality under the law; privileges and feudal practices were abolished; and land formerly owned by the Church was confirmed as belonging to those who had been granted it during the era of rebellion.
– These measures proved to the people that Napoleon wanted to safeguard the revolution.


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