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Napoleon's Time In Power Essay

1140 words - 5 pages

Napoleon's Time in Power

In 1799, after the French Revolution had quieted into the Thermidorean
Reaction, general Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the Directory (the
executive branch appointed by the legislative assembly) and came into
power as leader of the Consulate, beginning in 1799. Under Napoleon,
France became a nationalist power, expanding its territory into Italy
and exerting its influence over other powers. Napoleon consolidated
his rule by suppressing rebellions in France, normalizing relations
with the Church in the Concordat of 1801, and streamlining the French
law system in the Napoleonic Code. By 1804, Napoleon was so powerful
that he declared himself Emperor.

In 1799, the French government of the Thermidorean Reaction, called
the Directory, was floundering. A young French general, having already
won fame with a series of victories for Revolutionary France in Italy
Napoleon Bonaparte, was then busy fighting a fruitless war in Egypt.
The government, frightened by his massive popularity, next sent him on
this Egyptian campaign. The government stated the reason for the
Egyptian campaign as a means to threaten British trade with India, but
in reality it seemed mostly a ploy to get the dangerous and ambitious
Napoleon away from Paris. Hearing of the chaos, Napoleon abandoned his
army and with great fanfare, returned to Paris a hero. On November 9,
1799 (the month of "Brumaire" in the French Revolutionary calendar)
Napoleon Bonaparte and Abbe Sieyes pulled off a coup in France. They
overthrew the current Directory and replaced it with a new government:
the Consulate. Sieyes and Napoleon both installed themselves as
consuls, though the popular Napoleon became First Consul. The
overthrow of the Directory and establishment of the Consulate marked
the real end of the French Revolution. The Consulate was outwardly an
institution of self-government, with its Council of Notables and
Senate. This bicameral legislature was largely for show: Napoleon
controlled the Consulate. Under his rule, France entered a period of
"Enlightened Despotism",

As First Consul, Napoleon moved rapidly to institute order in France.
He put down rebellions in the French provinces. He centralized the
government of the various French departments under a system of
prefects. To reduce the number of potential revolutionaries floating
around Europe, he issued a general amnesty, allowing various exiles,
from aristocrats to Jacobins, to return home. Napoleon ended the
exclusion of the nobility from power that had been the trademark of
earlier post- revolution regimes. Moreover, Bonaparte won favor with
the Catholics who felt persecuted by the de-Christianization that
occurred during the revolution. Though unreligious, in 1801, Napoleon
signed a Concordat with the Catholic pope. This agreement also

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