French Revolution Essay, Research Paper
World History Term Paper:
The Rise of Napoleon s Power During The French Revolution
Napoleon s return to an autocratic government saved the French revolution, and all it stood for; and saving France from a near potentially anarchic situation. Napoleon although an autocratic dictator, wasn’t anything like his predecessors, nor was he like king Louis XVI. Napoleon was in touch with all French men and worked for the good of all French people, and introduced new reforms and change. Napoleon s autocratic government made many important decisions that were greatly welcomed by many French people. Napoleon changed the way of life for many French people, which placed increased confidence in French government and leadership; by instituting the destruction of the corrupt directory, or also known as the Coup d etat. France s political changes and restructure, paved the way for radical social changes in many areas of French society such as personal rights & freedom, education, roads, public works and laws, etc. Increased territory to the French, on napoleons command, meant further glory to France, and meant increased wealth for the French government. The most important of all Napoleons achievements was the formation of the Bank of France; this generated positive interest in the French economy and encouraged investment in France.
The coup d’etat was an act by Napoleon and Emmanuel Sieyes to overthrow the Directory. The Directory was a new form of government that was established in 1795. It consisted of five members that were elected by both houses of the legislature. This form of government was proved even less effective than the Legislative Assembly and the national convention. Within the Directory there was incompetence and corruption that was putting France in a major debt. It didn’t do much to solve the financial problems and military problems in France.
Attacks on the republic and other conservatives increased. Rising prices and disrupted production drove some groups in France to armed protests. And foreign hostility to France continued. Then when Napoleon, Sieyes, and their followers got their chance they executed the coup d’etat. Armed soldiers forced legislators from their chambers, and abolished the directory. France proclaimed a new form of government that Napoleon called the Consulate. Three consuls headed it, and Napoleon was the first consul. Being first consuls mean that Napoleon assumed practically most power. Napoleons power allowed him to do the things that needed to be done, and even allowed him to become consul for life, later to become emperor of France. Napoleon then reorganized almost everything in France, and made way for a better French society. Napoleon reinvented France; he created new roads, factories, harbors- that had been destroyed by the Revolution. He now controlled every part of the French life. Napoleon also wrote many laws that are still in use today. He reorganized the treasury department, forming the Bank of France, and regulating taxation. He also set-up an education system with secondary and technical schools, which raised the educational standards of France. A council of State was set up to give him advice, and help him write laws. France became one of the first efficiently organized modern states.
Napoleon Bonaparte made many social reforms that helped France. One major reform was the Napoleonic Code, which was a series of laws that some people thought was his greatest achievement ever. This code granted equality to all the citizens of France before the law. It confirmed the end of serfdom and slavery in France. It also gave people the freedom of occupation and the freedom to practice their religion. But, it reduced the rights of some groups including women. There were many other forms as well that strengthened the state. He initiated the Concordat with Pope Pius VII, Which re-established Roman Catholicism.
France was in a period of radical change that was not seen for many years. With Napoleon at the head of the government many things were to change, like in the many areas of French society. Napoleon lowered the national debt, restored the value of French bonds, balanced the budget, established the Bank of France, and established a new and better system of taxation. Also, he improved the public education system, which raised the educational standards for France. There were many reasons for why Napoleon crowned himself emperor of France in 1804. France needed a strong and powerful leader to keep everything under control. Napoleon loved France and he wanted to do good for France. If he became Emperor then he would have more power to make France better. He would be able to liberate France and keep it in order easier.
Napoleon also wanted to liberate other countries. To be able to liberate those lands he would need the power to make a big and powerful army. Once he got this new grand army he was able to conquer and destroy the armies of the lands. For example, in 1805, Britain organized the Third Coalition against France, but Napoleon’s army swept through Germany into Austria destroying both the Austrian and Russian armies. There were a couple of foreign policies that Napoleon set up. One Treaty was the Treaty of Tilsit. It was signed at the East Prussia town of Tilsit. The Treaties forced Prussia to give all its territory west of the Elbe River to Napoleon, and he used that land to create the kingdom of Westphalia. Prussia also had to give up their polish territory, out of that Napoleon created the Duchy of Warsaw. Another policy was the Continental System. This policy prevented Great Britain from trading with any European Nations.
Napoleon never really abused his power. He remained a fair leader to the people of France all of his life. Napoleon has been referred to as the “first modern dictator,” because he didn’t abuse his power compared to other leaders in western civilization. Napoleon cared more about the well being of the French people, and didn’t care about getting money from the government. Napoleon’s achievements and goals should be evaluated in a good way. Because he wasn’t a tyrant, he achieved those goals in a civilized way. Napoleon was one of the more fair, and better leaders than the ones that preceded him.
In 1801, Napoleon made an agreement with the pope that made Catholicism the state religion, but all religions were tolerated. “My policy is to govern men as the greatest number wish to be governed,” said Napoleon. “I established myself in Egypt by becoming a Mussulman; I won over the priests in Italy by becoming ultramontane, a supporter of the authority of the Pope. If I governed the Jews, I should have reestablished the temple of Solomon
As you can see Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the greatest military masterminds of all times, but as is with all good thing, they must come to an end. For all his intelligence and skill he was a terrible man. He killed almost half a million of his men, not to mention the men he killed that were not his enemies.