Civil Constitution And French Revolution-History.
In this lesson we discuss civil constitution and French revolution as part of history.
How did Louis XVI react to the Revolution?
– Louis XVI believed these problems were temporary, but accepted the changes to prevent any disorder. Although unrest continued.
– A march headed by several thousand women went to Versailles and forced the royal family to return to Paris.
– Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were greeted with cheers on their return, the King however had to acknowledge formally the reforms introduced by the Assembly.
– Foreign Ambassador reported that France was ruled by Paris mob.
Who were the counter-revolutionaries and who opposed the Revolution?
– Counter-revolutionaries included the king, the royal family, almost all of the nobility and the higher clergy.
– Several foreign governments also opposed the revolution a they were afraid that success of the revolution would bring out rebellion in their own countries.
What did the hardline counter- revolutionaries believe in?
Hardline counter-revolutionaries thought the King should oppose any reforms to restore the Ancien Regime.
What did the moderate counter- revolutionaries believe in?
The moderate counter-revolutionaries felt that certain reforms were reasonable and believed that the king should accept some limits on his power. They looked at the king for leaderships but Louis XVI was indecisive and failed to take a firm stand.
What did the lower classes/people of France believe in?
Lower classes had many grievances against the Ancien Regime but their remedies were vague at best.
– People of France demanded equality, liberty, security and land ownership without offering detail on how it should be implemented.
What was the state of the counter-revolutionaries and revolutionaries?
– Those who opposed the revolution were weakly organized with no clear program of action for suppressing the rebellion and regaining control.
– Revolutionaries lacked strong leadership and a clear agenda for reforms.
– After the royal family was brought to Paris from Versailles the revolution moved uncertainly.
– Either side made little progress in the first months of the revolution.
Who was Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette?
A French nobleman- he favored moderate reform and helped to draw the Declarations of the Rights of Man.
– Came to conflict in the Radical revolutionaries but was arrested and spent 5 years in prison until Napoleon’s rule.
– Was suggested to act as an intermediary between the king and the revolutionaries but he expressed little enthusiasm for representing the demands of the radical revolutionaries.
Who were the Jacobin’s?
– The Jacobin club was established in Versailles during the Estates-General of 1789.
– It followed the National Constituent Assembly to Paris, where it cemented it’s headquarters and base of operations.
– It expanded it’s membership to include those not in the Assembly.
– The Jacobins were a radical, left-wing political organization with the goals of providing universal sufferage, strong central government, public education, separation of church and state.
What happened on September 1791?
– In September 1791 a new constitution was introduced. The Legislative Assembly due to the division created by suspicion replaced the National Assembly.
– The radical elements accused the moderates of collaborating with the King.
– The Legislative Assembly allowed the Jacobins and the Girondins to gain more influence.
– Was formed in Paris but were also organized in the provinces too.
What were the Jacobins priorities?
– The fate of the king: many called for his execution while others favored negotiation
– Threat from royalist sympathizers within France: Jacobins used a policy of terror against anybody suspected of being a danger to the revolution.
– Progress in the revolutionary wars: Turned the ride after bad progress against Austria and Prussia, they used Carnot’s army with the help of effective co-operation between the opposing forces, which fought as individual units rather than a cohesive army. They were able to take initiative against Austria and Prussia.
Who were the Girondins?
– Originally from the south of France, supported the rights of provinces to influence the revolutionary movement.
– They were opposed by those who regarded Paris as the center of Revolution e.g. San Culottes.
– Girondins and Jacobins were united by a hatred of the church and a desire to end upper-class privilege.
– After the Flight to Varennes, the Girondins continued to encourage negotiation with Louis XVI- a policy not popular with other revolutionary groups.
– The Girondins lost both power and influence; many of them were arrested and some were even executed as a result of their policy.
– Power mostly went into the hands of the Jacobins and their influential leader Maximilien Robespierre.
What was “The Estate System”
– Louis XVI agreed to call a meeting of the estate generals to address the country’s financial problem.
– The advisory comprised representatives of three estates
French society had traditionally be divided in:
– The First Estate: the church
– The Second Estate: The nobility (willing to embrace reforms but the majority resisted change).
– The Third Estate: everybody else, majority of peasants and the middle class (sought change with no aim of revolution)
How was The Estate System divided?
– The assembly had last been divided in 1614; few people really understood either its procedures or the extent of its powers.
– Each estate had the same number of votes in the Estate General- the church and nobility (traditional allies) could join forces to outvote the Third Estate, blocking any reforms.
– In 1789, the first estate comprised of 10,000 clergy, the second estate of 400,000 nobles while the third estate represented 25 million. The third estate demanded voting should reflect the membership of the classes.
– After 3 months, the third estate was granted double its number of representatives in the estates general, meetings began in May 1789
What happened with The Estate System and the “grievances”?
– The three estates were ordered to create a list of grievances (cahiers) to present to the king.
– The three groups agreed on the need for a constitution, liberty of the press and an end to the internal trade barriers.
– The first and second estate disagreed on the surrendering of taxation privileges by the third estate.
– The king offered weak support, failing to take any firm decisions creating a deadlock.
How was the “National Constituent Assembly” formed?
– the third estate decided to break away from the estates general to form an independent assembly to address the demands of the lower classes.
– Clergy and nobles who favored reform joined this group calling itself the National Constituent Assembly (9 July 1789)
What was Louis XVI reaction to the National Constituent Assembly?
– Louis XVI was angered by what he perceived to be a challenge to his authority, although the National Assembly claimed to be working in favor of the king ordered that the hall of the assembly should be locked. Armed guards were posted at the door and members were denied entry.
– Louis resolved to reassert his power by overturning the decisions made by the assembly and dictating the few reforms that would be implemented.
What was the Tennis Court Oath?
– Members of the Assembly convened at a tennis court on 20th June, 576 members swore an oath not to disperse until a new constitution for France had been established.
– The Tennis Court Oath was the first act of defiance against the king-first demonstration that decisions about the government of the country could be made by the people.
What was the Storming of the Bastille?
– 14 July, 1789
– French citizens flocked to the center of Paris to show support of the new movement, as there was fears Louis XVI would bring in army to crush the gathering of the National Assembly.
– Crowds in Paris stormed in Bastille to seize guns and ammunition being stored to use against the King soldiers
– Those defending were killed
What was ‘The Great Fear’?
– Panic spread among the provenance after rumors that the king would overthrow the revolution. Peasants seized property from landlord and stole food from stores; records of services and taxes to be paid by the peasants were destroyed.
– Revolution gained momentum across France. Nobles (the émigrés) fled abroad to persuade other European monarchies to land support in putting down the rebellion.
Explain the ‘August Decrees’
– The National Assembly issued the August Decrees- a series of new laws that effectively brought about the end of feudalism in France; granting more rights to peasants and workers.
– Nobility agreed to abolish compulsory service by peasants including unpaid work to repair roads and abandon the taxes that peasants usually had to pay their landlords at harvest time.
– The decrees also abolished law courts run by the nobility. The church gave up the right to collect payments from the rest of the population, previously adding greatly to its wealth.
Explain the “Declarations of the Rights of Man’
– 26th August 1789: The Assembly issued the Declaration of the Rights of a Man: Based on the American Declaration of Independence and was the first step in establishing a constitution for France stating:
– All men were born free and equal, they had the right of equality, liberty, security and property.
– Imprisonment without trial would be banned
– Taxation was to be fairly apportioned to al people based on their wealth sovereignty lay with the people, no individual or group should be allowed to make decisions that went against the will of the people.
What was the role of the Church during the French Revolution in the 1790s?
– The church was a symbol of the Ancien Regime thus becoming a target for reformers.
– Monasteries were dissolved and the church’s right to raise taxes was abolished. Although these weren’t controversial, leading to no protests or support for the pope.
What was the ‘Civil Constitution’?
July, 1790 the Assembly introduced the civil constitution of the clergy:
• The pope was deprived of his authority over the Church of France.
• He could no longer appoint archbishops or bishops; they were to be elected by state officials.
• The number of bishops (districts under the control of a bishop) was reduced.
What actions were taken as a result of the Civil Constitution?
– Some church offices were abolished.
– Clergy were to be paid by the Church rather then the state- they should not be excessively religious.
– Most clergymen supported these reforms; Louis XVI also accepted this civil constitution.
– The Assembly added a requirement for the clergy to sign an oath of loyalty to the constitution changing the situation as many thought this was a step too far.
What was the impact of the oath during the Civil Constitution?
– Only 7 bishops and half the Parish clergy agreed to take the oath- the pope publically condemned the Civil Constitution and the revolutionary reforms introduced.
– The French people were split between the support for the Civil Constitution and the revolutionary principles and those who remained faithful to the Church’s traditional role in society.
– The 1791 constitution benefitted the middle class but the San-Culottes in Paris, along with the lower-class mobs in provinces maintained disruptive powers that could not be ignored.
What was the ‘Legislative Assembly’
– From 1791, the government grew divided by suspicion. The more radical elements in the Assembly accuded the moderates (The Feuillants) of collaborating with the king.
– In September 1791, a new constitution was introduced and the National Assembly was replaces by a new body called the Legislative Assembly.
– This allowed the radicals, especially the Jacobins and Girondins to gain more influence.
What was the situation in Paris by mid-1792?
– By mid-1792 the situation in Paris was dire: economic desperation continued, along with the threat of invasion. Rabble-rousing journalists like Marat and Desmoulins whipped up anger towards the king, La Fayette, Bailly, the Legislative Assembly and the Paris Commune.
Explain the Attack on the Tuilleries:
– hundreds of Parisians somehow gained access to the Tuileries. They invaded the hall occupied by the Legislative Assembly, then the apartments being used by the royal family. The king was approached by a man wielding an axe but managed to talk him out of using it. In another room, the queen and her children was surrounded by a hostile mob.
– Six weeks later, on August 9th, the Hotel de Ville was stormed and the ‘old’ Commune replaced by a more radical group, calling itself the ‘insurrectionary Commune’.
A mob was joined by several units of federes (radical republican troops from the National Guard). Together they marched on the Tuileries. Though protected by a garrison of the National Guard as well as almost a thousand soldiers of the Swiss Guard (a loyalist division of the army) the king had doubts about whether even they could protect him and, on advice, he sought asylum within the Legislative Assembly itself.
– The crowd and federes, well armed with guns and artillery, soon advanced and fired on the Swiss Guard, and a bloody battle ensued. More than two-thirds of the Swiss Guard was slaughtered; most of the rest were taken away to be tortured and killed in the city’s prisons. The crowd ordered the Legislative Assembly to depose the king and to disband in favour of a democratic ‘national convention’; it would eventually meet these demands.
What was the impact of the Attack on the Tulleries?
– The events of August 10 demonstrated how radical most sections of Paris had become, as well as how effective mob action and violence could be in forcing change.
– The Legislative Assembly was an impotent body for the rest of August. The insurrectionary Commune, buoyed by its support and holding sway in the capitol, began arresting enemies of the revolution, both real and imagined. The Commune held both the king and queen in prison until their subsequent trials. La Fayette, hearing of the events in Paris, defected to the Austrians. The raid on the Tuileries had sparked this key turning point in the new regime, a ‘second French Revolution’ in many respects. The path was now clear for radicalism and terror.
What was the ‘National Convention’?
– The National Convention became an organization structure officially in 1792; this convention soon came under the influence of its leading Jacobin members.
– The Legislative Assembly decreed the provisional suspension of King Louis XVI and the convocation of a National Convention which should draw up a constitution. It was decided that deputies to that convention should be elected by all Frenchmen twenty-five years old or more.
What was the effect of the fall of the Convention?
By 1795: a reaction against the Jacobins led to the fall of the convention but introduced a new constitution and establishment of the directory.
Explain the Reign of Terror:
– The Committee of Public Safety was set up, dominated by the Jacobins and their leader Maximilien Robespierre: it supervised military and legal affairs.
– Between 1792-1794 the Jacobins used the Reign of Terror to consolidate their power: Robespierre set a revolutionary Tribunal in Paris to put on trial anyone suspected of being an “enemy of revolution”
What were the September Massacres?
September, 1792: A massacre of prisoners in Paris was carried out, in which more the 1000 people were killed- justified by the prisoners conspiring to rise up and join a counter-revolutionary plot. Some of them were noblemen and clergy; many were common criminals with no political agenda.
Explain the effect of the King’s execution:
– 21 September 1792: a decree passed which abolished the monarchy making France an official republic.
– The king was put up on trial and sent to guillotine in January 1793, Marie Antoinette met the same fate in October
– A new calendar was introduced and the months were renamed. 1792 was designated as Year I
– Many believed that the king’s death would only increase divisions in France and strengthen the determination of foreign powers to intervene in the Revolution.
Describe Robespierre’s Cult:
– Robespierre was a man of high morality and was called a “Republic of Virtue” to replace Roman Catholicism emphasizing duty, the need for all citizens to help each other and a loyalty to democracy.
– Robespierre introduced the Cult of the Supreme Being to replace worship of the Christian God- he himself led one of the ceremonial processions to introduce the Cult.
– Paris and other large cities supported the Jacobin rule strongly, agents sent from Paris by the committee of Public safety were not popular everywhere.
– Members of the nobility were still in France- they had not fled abroad and became the focus of loyalist activity.
– The Clergy commanded support in parts of the country where moderates/royalists remained dominant.
– The Jacobin agents were sent to uncover suppress anti-revolutionary feeling, ruthless but their task was not easy.
What was the ‘Law of Suspects’?
– The Convention passed a decree known as the laws of suspects, allowing people to be arrested on the basis of accusation rather then evidence.
– The decree was created because the Jacobins were facing several crisis- the port in Tourton in the South was besieged by the British and if that fell it would open up the basis for counter-revolutionaries to make invades into France.
– The cult was defined in vague terms- anybody who wasn’t an active supporter of the regime would be charged and the accused weren’t allowed lawyers and were tried in special tubunials presided over by Jacobin agents rather then judges. The outcome would be acquittal or death.
What was the impact of the Reign of Terror?
– Victims of the Terror were not just aristocrats and clergymen, members of the middle class also found themselves on trial, many innocent people were put on the guillotine as their accusers wanted to impress the authorities.
– An estimate of 40,000 people was killed dining the Reign of Terror.
– Many believe the Reign of Terror was necessary to ensure the survival of the revolution.
– The Reign of Terror shocked the 18th century Europe by its state and lack of respect for legal institutions.
Explain the fall of Robespierre:
– Revolutionary groups grew alarmed by the extreme Jacobins, the Law of Suspects was widely regarded as a step too far and felt it was time to challenge Robespierre’s rule.
– The Committee of Public Safety was becoming too powerful; ignoring the Convention
– Robespierre who in others view was becoming too dictorial had plans to purge the committee but the convention decided to act against him-the Thermidorian Reaction (the month on the new French calendar marking Robespierre’s fall)
– Robespierre was arrested in 1974- 80,000 prisoners were released from jail.
– After a failed suicide attempt, Robespierre was executed a 28th July 1794, around 90 of his colleagues were also killed.
What was Robespierre’s impact on historians?
– Robespierre remains a controversial historical figure; many believe he saved the revolution from defeat at a critical time.
– Others condemn his dictorial rule and the executions that took place when he was in rule.
– He was a man of contradictions- known as the “incorruptible” and was highly principled, he believed power belonged to the people and not the governments. However je was a ruthless politician and would not tolerate rivals even among the Jacobins, which he sent to the guillotine.
What were France’s economic problems?
– The states debts remained along with the inefficient tax system.
– Farmers hoarded their grains rather then distributing them.
– Assignants (paper money) were issued but the value fell due to unconfidence of the currency.
– Middle class people could now afford land, and was seized from the nobility and the church.
– Those who had no wealth, such as peasants and the working class were still suffering.
– These problems were made worse due to the division of revolutionaries.
– Moderates objected the seizure of food and property while the radicals demanded state control over them.
Explain France’s regional divisions:
– Difficult to govern because of the different regions, which had particular customs such as different languages, culture and law in the North and South.
– Laws issued by the king were not applied automatically, local institutions had to record them due to different systems of law in the north and south.
– Continuous wars had proved expensive: France intervention in the Independence for America
– Tradition prevented the king from imposing higher taxes without the agreement of influential institutions.
– France was agricultural economy- poor harvests in food shortages and rising food prices.
– French citizens were forces into poverty and starvation- increasing the discontent and need for change.
Explain France’s financial troubles:
– Unsympathetic attitude of Marie Antoinette added to Napoleon’s increasing unpopularity along with the indifference of the king and the nobles to the suffering of the lower classes.
– French tax system imposed heavy tax on the middle and working classes while the upper classes and the nobility benefitted from numerous tax exemptions and advantages.
– The French state was nearing bank rampancy from it’s involvement in expensive wars provoking wide spread hostility.
– Economic conditions within France: an absence of Law and order affected trade had caused scarcities- administration collapsed with few
What was the impact of war on France?
– Monarchies in Europe regarded Louis XVI as the rightful ruler of France and were angered with his imprisonment, challenging the Revolutionaries.
– The ideals in the Declaration of the Rights of Man threatened peace in other European countries.
– Prussia and Austria were alarmed by the reforms- they were the most powerful countries in Europe,with the risk of being “threatened”. French émigrés gathered support of these countries, causing the National Assembly to declare war on Austria in 1792.
– The Duke of Brunswick issued a manifesto defending an invasion of France and promising to restore Louis XVI to his full powers. Britain and Holland soon joined this anti-revolutionary alliance.
– French officers had been dismissed or fled the country leaving weak French force.
– Prussian troops had crossed the border and began marching in Paris suggesting the revolution would be crushed at last and the monarchy restored. However on the advice of Count Carnot, the Jacobin government increased French forces through conscription- 650,000 soldiers to 1.5 million and arranged for sufficient weapons and food for the large forces.
– They won a surprising victory at the battle of Valmy in September 1792.
– Fears of Treason did not allow the danger of revolution to be over. Charles- François du Périer Dumoriez, a leading general deserted and joined the Austrians, which weakened the government.
Explain the ‘Directory’:
– The convention drew up a new constitution in August 1975 In order to balance power and avoid the dictatorship of one man or group, the Directory was established with two councilors.
– The council of 500 (with 500 members) proposed laws and the council of Ancients (with 250 members) accepted or rejected the proposed laws.
– There are 5 directors who were selected by the Ancients from a list drawn up by the Five Hundred
– Five Hundred were responsible for choosing government ministers, army leaders, tax collectors and other officials.
– The directors came from the middle class- acquiring land and benefitting from trade.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
What economic changes regarding tax did Napoleon make?
– As first consul, Napoleon attempted to address France’s financial problems.
– The revolutionary governments had recognized that the inefficient tax system was a major issue.
– Before 1789, tax farmers were used in France- groups of financiers who have bought the right to collect taxes for the government.
– Tax farmers were widely unpopular among the French because they often took a large share of the money for themselves instead of paying it to the government.
– After 1789, local authorities responsible for collecting taxes had replaced the corrupt system of using tax farmers, but this move had not resolved the situation.
– Napoleon decided to use his own officials, the prefects to collect taxes.
What other economic changes did Napoleon make?
Napoleon confirms the Le Chapelier law, introduced in 1791 banning trade unions and making strikes illegal.
– When Napoleon came to power, there was no reliable banking system in France. After the Revolution, four banks were created but they did not have state backing and quickly foundered.
– The government-backed Bank of France was founded in 1800 and was run by the influential Swiss banker Jean Frédéric Perreguax.
– This strengthened France’s finances, although debts remained high due to war costs.
Explain Religion under Napoleon’s reign:
– The Church’s links with the monarchy and the ancien régime meant that it came under immediate attack when the revolution broke out.
– Napoleon was not religious but he recognized the importance of it for the French. Napoleon saw religion as a social bond, useful support for his government.
– Priests were still influential members of society, especially on the poor clergy who lived in villages.
– In 1801, he made a concordat with Pope Pius VII, Napoleon recognized Roman Catholicism in France. In return of this acknowledgement, he was allowed to nominate the men who would serve as bishops, usually those who supported his regime.
– The concordat was soon revised without reference to the pope.
– Papal bulls (official statements) could only be published in France with the permission of the first consul, and bishops placed under the authority of Napoleon’s prefects giving Napoleon immense power. He controlled the bishops who controlled the clergy.
– The church became an important agency for Napoleonic propaganda and centralized power.
– A few people believe that the pope made a poor bargain; some radicals opposed any deal with the Church. Most of the population was content- they had their churches and priests, but kept lands that the Church forfeited during the revolution.
– Minority groups such as Huguenots (French protestants) and Jews were tolerated and allowed to practice their religion free of persecution.
– Napoleon extended the policy of tolerance to territories that he conquered.
Describe the raid in Italy by Napoleon?
– Many believe that Napoleon wished to liberate Europe from the control of tyrant rulers and spread the high ideals of the French Revolution. Others think he was driven by the increasing desire for power, seeking only to enhance his own prestige.
– Under Napoleon’s leadership, France was almost continuously engaged in conflict with foreign powers.
– Napoleon went to Italy: France’s political interests were a more significant reason for French interference there than any feeling of responsibility towards the foreign-ruled Italians. The Directory saw this raid on Italy as a sideshow- the main attack on Austria was intended to be in the North and Napoleon’s expedition was meant primarily to divide the Austrian army. French gains in a treaty with Austria were considered to be more important than Napoleon’s successes in Italy.
– Napoleon’s foreign policy was an important reason why Napoleon gained power as first consul in 1799 and was later able to establish himself as emperor.
Explain Napoleon’s abdication:
– By 1799, the French people were comparing him with the directors whose success in governing France seemed limited however, once he was in power, France enjoyed only one year of peace until his final defeat in 1815.
– Napoleon was an outstanding general and his victories against continental countries continued until he over-reached himself. He made two major errors that proved fatal: He became involved in a long series of campaigns against Spain and Portugal and then made an even more serious mistake by invading Russia. This drained France’s resources, whilst Britain- always supreme at sea continued to resist him.
– Napoleon was forced to abdicate and leave France in 1814 however his defeat at Waterloo was followed by a permanent exile on the remote island of St Helena.
Describe Napoleon’s propaganda and popularity:
– Napoleon was a skilled self-promoter: During his rise to power and particularly during the early years of his reign, he employed propaganda techniques to emphasize his leadership qualities and spread his message to the world.
– He claimed that his aim was to break down the national barriers in Europe for the benefit of different populations, bringing to them the advantages that France had gained from the revolution.
– He also made much of the claim that he was a liberator in his early campaign in Italy 1796.
– Napoleon embarked on large-scale public activities that were often intended as propaganda for his rule. When he invaded Egypt in 1798, he took archaeologists and historians with him to study and brink back ancient Egyptian records and artifacts.
– During his time as first consul, he encouraged the work of scientists. Famous French artists recorded Napoleon’s heroism and achievements.
– Festivals were organized throughout France in Napoleon’s honor.
– Napoleon had a series of medals to celebrate his accomplishments: Napoleon emphasized not only his military skills and his desire for peace, but also his role as a patron of the arts.
– Napoleon was keen to ensure that the French only received positive messages about his regime through policies of control and censorship. Napoleon established 6 newspapers, designed to spread his own messages to the widest possible spectrum of the French people.
– Theatres were controlled and used to gain popular support.
Explain the end of the Consulate:
– In 1804, Napoleon abandoned the Consulate and had himself crowned emperor. His coronation was a magnificent event, following the style of coronations of the French kings (except Napoleon placed the crown on his own head)
– Pope Pius VII was in attendance, to represent the approval of God and the Church- His position as emperor contradicted the idea of a republican government; Napoleon claimed that the change would unify the country enforcing the best features of the revolution.
– The establishment of the empire was confirmed by popular approval through plebiscites, giving the impression that France was a democracy however these votes were arranges to result in an overwhelming majority in favor of change.
– Napoleon styled himself “Emperor of the French” to emphasize his links to the general populace.
– The title ’emperor’ simply implied more grandeur than that of consul. Having an emperor might reconcile royalists to the new regime. It would have been too controversial to declare himself King, but emperor was a title known throughout Europe and would still ensure that the succession would be hereditary, unlike the elected consuls.
– Napoleon ruled in regal splendor from this time onwards. Like other emperors, he had a large court and placed an emphasis on ceremonies.
– His soldiers were given new uniforms and favored followers were bestowed with imperial titles.
What was the Napoleonic Legend?
– Napoleon may have arrived at a position of power controversially, but he soon gained the support of most of the French population. Although he ruled as a dictator and made little attempt to fulfill the revolutionary ideal of democracy, he was not a harsh leader.
– He encouraged people to forget the past, and only those who refused to do so were punished the extreme royalists and republicans would never have been won over.
– The most convincing proof of his popularity was his return from exile in 1814, with a great deal of popular support, he drove out and restored monarch Louis XVII and once more assumed power himself.
– It was not French uprising that defeated him, but foreign enemies.
– Napoleon’s fame and influence (often described as the Napoleonic legend) lasted long after his death in 1821. Many of his laws and methods of administration continued even under the restored monarchies from 1815 to 1848.
– In an effort to increase his own popularity, Louis Philippe allowed Napoleon’s body to be buried in Paris in an elaborate ceremony in 1840. His tomb still attracts thousands of visitors- French and foreign every year.