Napoleon Essay, Research Paper
There are never ending inquiries on the nature of Napoleonic power. But reason can prove to one that the Age of Napoleon was infact a time of democratic rule. Through Political, Social, and Economical reforms, Napoleon Bonaparte did not only transcend France, but he changed the course of history for Europe and the World today.
To begin, Napoleon proved himself a democratic leader thorough many Political reforms. In 1798-99, Napoleon, with the directory’s blessing, he launched his Egyptian Expedition. It was a military disaster, but Napoleon came to France a hero and saved France from the second coalition. In 1799, he staged his “Coup D’etat,” and setting up the Consulate, government body representing a country in another host country, with himself as First Consul. At first this does not seem just, but Napoleon then submitted his new constitution to a Plebiscite, a vote of the people, and it was approved by a vast majority. Although the constitution gave almost complete power to the First Consul, it was the people of France who voted , as a democratic society would, to enforce this new structure of government. In 1802, Napoleon again held a Plebiscite, and was named to be First Consul for life. Also, in 1804, he submitted to Plebiscite a new constitution, ending the consulate and establishing the First French Empire. Also showing Democratic Political advancement, Napoleon signed The Concordat of 1801 with the Catholic Church. He thus disarmed the threat of counter revolution among the catholic peasants. Catholicism became the “preferred” religion of France, but most importantly, Napoleon did tolerate other religions.
Next, Napoleon helped show the Age of Napoleon as democratic through many Economic reforms. To begin, Napoleon reformed the tax structure. This exempt no person or persons from paying their taxes because of birth or privilege. Amazingly, people willingly, began to pay their taxes. Napoleon also authorized a central banking system. Because of the new reforms, French industries flourished under the protection of the state. Also, the blockade forced the evolvement of new crops, such as sugar beets and indigo. Napoleon also extended the infrastructure of roads, which were essential for the expansion of national and European markets.
Last, Napoleon made his biggest impact of a democratic society through his social reforms. As already stated, Napoleon signed The Concordat of 1801 with the Catholic Church, thus disarming the threat of counter revolution among the catholic peasants. Catholicism did become the “preferred” religion of France, but most importantly, Napoleon did tolerate other religions. Next, one of Napoleon’s greatest achievements, perhaps, was the Napoleonic Code. United with economic reforms, the Napoleonic Code simplified trade and the expansion of commerce by regularizing contractual relations and preserving property rights and equality before law. Last, Napoleon began to recognize the importance of education in French society. Soon, with educational reforms, Napoleon began to be a patron of the sciences. With the newly developed uniform system of weights and measures, Napoleon felt the need to go further. He founded a system of national education from primary schools through college. Soon, higher education became available in all major cities, and French life began to prosper.
To the question ” dictatorship or democracy ? “, is superimposed the unavoidable conflict between a conservative tendency and a social trend. Is Bonapartism right-winged or left-winged ? A part of Bonapartism relies on the gentry and the Church, another part seeks to be popular and anticlerical. The Political, Social, and Economical reforms clearly point to a democratic age of being. These ambiguities have helped Louis-Napoleon in his conquest for power in 1848, and are at the origins of the fall of the Second Empire in 1870.