Napoleon I on his Imperial Throne
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Assignment Part 1 of 2: List the events below in order of importance (1 most to 9 least) and write a one or two sentence justification for your answer.
Napoleon took power in France in 1799 following the chaos of the Reign of Terror and five years of weak governments. By 1806 Napoleon had not only stabilized France, but he had issued his own set of landmark laws and conquered an Empire for France that consisted of most of Europe. Below is a list of Napoleon’s accomplishments, rank them in order of importance, 1 being the most important 9 being the least important.
- Victory against the Austrians: Napoleon routinely defeated the Austrian army in battle. His early victories led to French control of Northern Italy. Napoleon’s later victories gave him the ability to force an alliance on the Austrians and marry the daughter of the Hapsburg Emperor.
- The Napoleonic Code: Napoleon had French law re-written.In order to streamline the confusing, sometimes repetitive elements of French law, Napoleon (like Justinian before him) had the law of the land codified in one supreme law. The Code corrected some injustices however it also restricted freedom of speech and the press gained under the revolution in the name of authority.
- The Concordant: During the Revolution the Church was a frequent victim of revolutionary justice.The Revolutionaries confiscated church lands and money. The Concordant gave the Catholic Church status as the official state church and allowed religious freedom for Catholics.
- Creation of a French Empire: Napoleon’s success on the battlefield allowed France to grow into a world power.With Napoleon at their head, French armies conquered Holland, Belgium and Spain adding them to his Empire. Napoleon also defeated the Prussians,the Austrians and the Russians making the European continent an entirely French possession. Only Britain, Portugal and Sweden remained outside his control.
- Financial Stabilization: Napoleon ended runaway inflation and stabilized prices.Under Napoleon the French people could afford to eat and succeed. He did this by allowing Émigré’s to return to France with their money without the fear of death. Napoleon began state sponsored projects building roads and canals. His many military victories brought tribute into the country which also helped the economy. Napoleon also established a national bank that exists to this day.
- Construction of Schools:Schools were built allowing all to gain an education. This was a crucial development be-cause in Napoleon’s France one received their job based upon ability not family connections.
- Generosity toward his people:Napoleon never forgot where he came from(Corsica/the Army). Following a victorious battle versus the Austrian Napoleon announced he would adopt the children of all the French soldiers killed during the battle. Napoleon ordered the state to pay for the children’s care and education.The government would arrange marriages for the girls and find jobs for the boys. Napoleon also allowed “his children”to add his name to theirs.
- Centralized Authority: Napoleon brought order to French society by giving strength to the central government. Under Napoleon taxes were once again collected and used for the maintenance of roads, sewers,schools and a civil administration. This civil service was able to return France to the order that citizens had enjoyed under King Louis.
- Crowning himself Emperor: In 1804 Napoleon invited the Pope to Paris to crown Napoleon Emperor of France for life. Once the Pope arrived however Napoleon took the crown from the Popes hands and placed the crown on his own head in essence saying that his power is descended directly from God.
Assignment Part 2 of 2: Complete the following questions using the information below.
- Based upon the testimony below, does Napoleon deliver what the French people need?
- Would you say that Napoleon continued the mission of the French Revolution or would you say that Napoleon ended the French Revolution? Why?
- Do you think life in revolutionary France is living up to the goals set out by the Revolutionaries? Why or why not?
Goals of the French Revolution
- All men are created equal
- Government should protect natural rights
- A person is free to do as he chooses so long as he does not interfere with the rights of others
- Freedom of Religion (No State Religion)
- Right to property and government representation
- People will succeed based on ability, not because of the class they are born into.
Life in France During the Reign of Napoleon
After the overthrow of King Louis XVI the new leaders of France struggled to create the system of government they had dreamed of. In 1793 radicals had seized power, executed the King and his family and launched a reign of terror that would engulf the entire population of France resulting in over 100,000 executions.
Jauques St.Martin—Soldier I once baked bread for the people of Paris, today I bake bread for the armies of Napoleon. In Paris I never saw more than the neighborhood where I lived and worked. Now I have seen all of Europe. Granted I saw it as I marched across it and I along with the continent I have also seen my share of bloodshed and destruction. We might not be staring at death anymore,but what good is food if you have to fight the armies of Europe to get it. At least, so far, we are winning.
Bishop Guy Levesque—Catholic Priest Since the rise of Napoleon and his signing of the Concordat I am living a new life. No longer am I hunted by the gendarmes of the revolution. God once again has a place in the sun and in the lives of the French. My Church is full and together with Napoleon we are giving order to society.The Church supports Napoleon, he is after all the rightful ruler of France, otherwise the Pope never would have come to Paris to offer the Emperor his crown. This is the way a civilized society acts,crown and cross,hand in hand.
Rene Montesat—Lawyer Thank the heavens for the Napoleonic Code. Today we once again have order in our courts. In fact I believe this law of Napoleon may be even better than the old laws of the King. Napoleon has taken the best ideas of the revolutionaries and married them to traditional law. He has thrown out the unmanageable dreams of the revolutionary rabble and now we once again have an orderly system of law. Granted Napoleon does rig the votes in the national plebiscites, but so what, at least his laws make sense and give our society order.
Marquis LucDuvalle—Aristocrat I never thought I’d return to France. Not after barely escaping the revolution with my head still attached. However I must say the Corsican corporal does have a style to him. He has given the peasants a bit of what they want, but under him there is room for an aristocracy and an aristocracy that can thrive. If he wants to crown himself Emperor, so be it. He will always be an imposter, but so long as I keep my neck and my fortune, let him be.
Marie Du’Franc—Peasant Ha! Women fought for the revolution and we were lied to by the revolutionaries. Napoleon comes to power to give order to the revolution and instead he rolls-back all the hard fought gains. We had more freedom under the King and under the King we had none. When will France wake up and forget about the money he puts in our pockets and instead realize that he has taken away our freedom.