France History - Il Consolato e l'Impero

France History – Il Consolato e l’Impero

According to, the first problem that presented itself to Bonaparte was the institutional one. But the constitution of the year VIII he created fell into the opposite excess of that of the year III: the paralysis was replaced by the omnipotence of the executive power and the legislative power was substantially absorbed by it without leaving residues. Four were the central organs of the state: the three consuls, of which only the first had effective authority, exercised executive power; the Senate, appointed by the two outgoing consuls together with the second and third of the new ones, elected the consuls, tribunes, cassation judges and accounting commissioners, and oversaw the observance of the constitution; the Council of State, made up of technicians, prepared the laws with the consuls; the Tribunate discussed the laws themselves and the Legislative Body gave them the final formal touch. The power to appoint to the highest offices of the administration passed from the people to the first consul. In the provincial administration from the self-government and collegiality of the first two assemblies of the revolution and of the directory, the more vigorous centralizing system was adopted with the institution of prefects and sub-prefects, appointed by the first consul at the head of the departments and districts and dependent on the Interior Minister. Legally, however, the principle of popular sovereignty was maintained by expressing itself in universal suffrage: the constitution of the year VIII was submitted to a plebiscite and approved by it.

Strengthened by his juridically guaranteed authority, Bonaparte aimed at the reconciliation of parties, indeed at the destruction of the parties themselves. “Je suis national” was his motto and the very concept of nation, which had carved a chasm between classes on the eve of the revolution, was the platform on which classes and factions met to collaborate. No one better than Bonaparte could impose this platform: he was not a party leader, he was the highest representative of that army, in which the new France had placed its pride. Through the wars for the defense and expansion of revolutionary France and through the harsh experience of exile, the homeland had revealed itself to the citizens of the new and old France as a reality above the parties. But national fusion did not mean idyll, the immediate cessation of all hatred, of all rancor. Far away, the emigrants feel the nostalgia for their homeland in the strongest way, but returning to their homeland the old grudges resurface at the sight of their properties in the hands of the thieves and murderers of the revolution. We need an iron fist in the velvet glove of Fouché and Bonaparte so that these rancors do not explode, we need to gag the press, but, despite this, despite the fact that emigrants and revolutionaries collaborate in the Napoleonic ruling class, the problem of goods of the emigrants an open problem remains, which only the Restoration – and only the Restoration could do it – will solve with the famous one billion emigrants’ allowance.

Bonaparte was happier in ecclesiastical politics. The new France was tired of the ambitions of new cults, and had remained basically in its great Catholic mass; she wanted to be at peace with her conscience but did not want to lose the economic benefit of having seized the ecclesiastical assets. The Concordat of 1801 resolved this contradictory aspiration: Catholicism was recognized as the religion of the majority of the French and in return recognized the fait accompli of the alienation of ecclesiastical property. Bonaparte renounced the popular election of the bishops of the civil constitution of the clergy, but resumed the right of the kings of France to appoint bishops and to bind them to themselves with an oath. Since many bishops had emigrated, Bonaparte obtained their dismissal through the pope, and had a clergy nominated and salaried by the state and divided into dioceses corresponding to the departments. The organic laws annexed to the Concordat, but not accepted by the Pope, maintained some fundamental points of the old Gallican jurisdictionalism (appeal for abuse, etc.), so that Bonaparte ended up having all the assemblies of the concordat regime and all those of jurisdictionalism without having the disadvantages, and found in an emigrant rallié, heir to the Gallican spirit, the intelligent interpreter of his will, the minister of the Cults Portalis. However, with the very existence of a new concordat, with the dismissal of the emigrated bishops, with the skilful policy of supporting the needs of the secular believing masses, the Church infiltrated France more effectively than in the past. The brake on emigrants and the recognition by the Church of the sale of ecclesiastical assets satisfied the agrarian bourgeoisie, which found in Napoleon’s code the full guarantee of its rights, and in internal security, in the new internal ways of communication, in moderate economic liberalism. the possibilities of his ascension.

In the industrial regime Bonaparte, assisted by Chaptal, at first reconciled liberalism and protectionism, not without giving the first signs of his characteristic tendency to rationalize and regulate everything. Trade within and in the vassal states was free; abroad, towards England and towards the neutrals, protected and controlled. In social policy, Bonaparte, although at times he had some corporate ambitions, maintained the prohibition of workers’ associations, except for those of mutual aid, he was very strict in preventing strikes, but he never made the workers lack work and bread with a grandiose series of public works, with subsidies to industries in danger of not leaving their workers on the pavement, with foreseeable annonary measures. With the creation of the Bank of France (January 18, 1800), the government took over the financial world and was able to supervise national credit. The coin stabilized and the numerary returned to circulation. A war to death Bonaparte waged against speculators, high finance, who had celebrated their golden age in the directory: with the reorganization of the body of stockbrokers and brokers, an attempt was made to introduce order into the stock market.. With the commercial code, promulgated only in 1807, but decreed since 1801, the aim was to impose good faith in commercial transactions and to suppress the scandal of bankruptcies. The revolution had made the magnificent national education projects of Talleyrand and Condorcet, but the lack of financial means and tranquility had prevented them from being implemented.

While Bonaparte was setting the new France on a rational internal reconstruction, he did not fail to ensure defense, triumph and peace abroad. Even before he arrived from Egypt, the victory had again favored the arms of France: in Holland, Brune had defeated the Anglo-Russians in Bergen and had forced them to capitulate at Alkmaer; in Switzerland Massena had annihilated the Austro-Russian army of Korsakoff and Hotze in Zurich and completely worn out Suvaroff’s superb army. Plomatically, a serious flaw had disturbed the coalition: the rapacious policy of Austria in Italy, the way the heroic Suvaroff had treated himself and abandoned himself in the difficult Swiss campaign, had excited the indignation of Tsar Paul I towards Austria. and effective detachment from the coalition of its most powerful member, Russia. However, the situation was not rosy: Germany and Italy were in full possession of the enemy and the Swiss army was in a critical position between them. Bonaparte sent Moreau to Germany with a strong army and Massena to Italy to command the few remnants of French troops who were there defending Genoa, and in the meantime he prepared a third army. Moreau won and re-conquered the Austrians in Germany, the indomitable Massena resisted like a lion in Genoa and when he capitulated, Bonaparte had already had time to go down to Italy, run like lightning in Milan, return against Melas, the conqueror of Genoa, and win it in a great day in Marengo. Marengo restored to Bonaparte the effective dominance in Italy: the Austrians cleared Lombardy and signed a six-month armistice. After the war resumed in the winter, Moreau won his greatest victory at Hohenlinden, Brune had some success in Italy, and Austria was therefore forced to sign the peace of Lunéville (9 February 1801), with which it returned to status quo of Campoformio. Meanwhile, Bonaparte exploited Russia’s distrust of Austria and England, which had occupied Malta (25 September 1800), and conquered the soul of Paul I, granting a peace to his protégé king of Naples (Florence, 29 March 1801), while in exchange Russia organized the league of neutrals against England. Paul I died, but England, tired of the war, asked for peace, which was signed in Amiens on March 25, 1802. France had its colonies in the Antilles back; Egypt returned to Turkey; England would have cleared Malta when France did the same for the kingdom of Naples; Ceylon of the Dutch and the Trinity of the Spaniards were abandoned to England:

Bonaparte’s prestige was by now immense: he was absolute lord of rich and enthusiastic France, and of much of Europe. Not everything was his work, although he was the animator of everything. He found himself dominating a great people with solid political traditions and in a period of ardent and conscious patriotism, and he had at his disposal the most superb ruling class a head of state could hope for. Men with a fine political nose, not years old, but very rich in lived experience, opportunists, profound connoisseurs of every branch of the administration, men who had tested the most varied systems to the test of reality and had acquired that realism that comes from practice and not only from the bookish study of concrete problems. But the Napoleonic ruling class lacked moral vigor, the ethical sense of state life: in vain one would seek in it that interior life, that devotion to the ideal, that moral seriousness, which formed the fascination of the contemporary Prussian and English ruling classes. It is a class that serves Napoleon today and will serve the Bourbons tomorrow and the Orleans the day after tomorrow with the same zeal and with the same intelligence. On the other hand, even Napoleon lacked a profound interior life: French yes, and certainly he would not have dominated France if he had not had the strengths and weaknesses of his people – French that his mind in watertight compartments, the art of hurting susceptibility of peoples and that of knowing how to bind them to oneself, that knowing how to make use of ideologies realistically; but ultimately his ambition coincided, did not identify with that of the nation; and when the

The imperial dignity (May 18, 1804) and the royal dignity of Italy (1805) alarmed the great powers. Already England, not wanting to clear Malta, nor wanting to tolerate the overwhelming continental dominance and Napoleon’s protectionist and anti-British economic policy, had broken the Amiens peace. Napoleon assembled a large army in Boulogne to land in England, but England, in order to escape the danger, managed to form the third coalition with Austria, alarmed by the title of king of Italy, and Russia, in which Alexander had reacted to the policy of Paul I: Prussia did not participate in it, because Napoleon threw the Hanoverian as an offa to keep it quiet. Lightning fast as always, Napoleon, before the Russians arrived, surrounded the Austrians in Ulm and made them capitulate, marched on Vienna, the Austro-Russian army took it and destroyed it in Austerlitz (2 December 1805). The Russians withdrew and the Emperor of Austria was forced in the Peace of Presburg to cede the Veneto to the Kingdom of Italy, to abandon the title of emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and to give Napoleon carte blanche in Germany.

Napoleon, master of all of Italy, except for the Papal State and the islands, with the conquest of the Neapolitan area for his brother Giuseppe, began to rearrange Germany (see Germany: History). This alarmed Prussia, which joined with Russia, which had not made peace, with Sweden and England. With the same tactics of the previous year, before the Russians joined the Prussians, Napoleon swooped down on them, won them at Jena and Auerstadt (14 October 1806), entered Berlin, won the Russians at Eylau and Friedland and made peace with the Tsar in Tilsit (June 1807). The Tilsit conference marked the return to the Franco-Russian alliance, longed for since the time of Paul I: Napoleon gave the Russians carte blanche against Sweden, which was taken away from Finland, and he was granted carte blanche for Germany, in which he created the kingdom of Westphalia for his brother Jerome. Out of consideration for the Tsar, he did not rebuild Poland taken from Prussia in an autonomous government,

Having destroyed Prussia and negotiating with Russia, Napoleon devoted himself entirely to the war against England, against which he had proclaimed the continental blockade (November 1806). All continental Europe had to form a compact economic unit, be self-sufficient and reject English goods: new cultures were therefore implanted or attempted in France or in the satellite countries (beet sugar, tobacco, dyeing materials, etc.) and new conquests had to be made in order not to offer holes in the blockade system. Thus arose the need for the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula with the creation of the kingdom of Spain, taken away from the Bourbons, for his brother Giuseppe, replaced by Murat in Naples, and with the end of the temporal dominion of the popes in Italy. But Spain rose as one, and England ran to defend Portugal, and for the first time the invincible Napoleonic troops were seen laying down their arms before the enemy: in Baylen (July 1808) in front of the Spanish insurgents, in Cintra in front of the English (August 1808). Then Napoleon personally went to Spain, won at Somo-Sierra and entered Madrid, but he did not pacify the country.

Austria wanted to take advantage of Napoleon’s Spanish difficulties, allied itself with England, and invaded Germany, the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and Italy. But Napoleon undid Archduke Charles at Eckmüll, the Franco-Italians defended the Piave against Archduke Giovanni and went on the offensive, Napoleon himself entered Vienna, waged a hard battle, which ended ex – aequo Marte, at Essling, and, joining with the Franco-Italian army, already victorious at the Raab, he won the decisive battle of Wagram (July 1809). The Emperor of Austria was forced to cede Trentino to the Kingdom of Italy and the Illyrian provinces, the future nucleus of Yugoslavia, to France and to grant Napoleon the hand of his daughter Maria Luisa.

It seemed that Napoleon, always victorious, having ensured the continuity of his regime with the birth of a son proclaimed king of Rome (1811), had reached the peak of his power. In reality, a profound crisis was corroding his empire and his regime. That not knowing how to limit himself in victory and, always tearing new provinces from the enemies, that exasperating in them the desire for revenge, forced him to work as a Sisyphus: to win and then go back to the beginning and find himself entangled in an interminable series of wars. The contempt for national individualities alienated him from the vassal peoples, and in vain his brother Luigi in Holland, his brother-in-law Gioacchino in Naples, made themselves interpreters of their particular needs. There was in Napoleon the misunderstanding of an enlightened sovereign, of a Joseph II: he did not understand how reasonable peoples did not understand the excellence of French institutions, customs and his thoughts. With the vassal peoples alienated, the moral strength of the Church alienated through persecutions and bullying, he began to be alone in France too. The ruling class was falling apart: it was doubted that such a risky policy could always succeed and could not fail to lead the nation to the abyss: the finest, such as Fouché and Talleyrand, were already thinking of changing sides in time. Once the Tribunate was abolished, the various oppositions silenced, Napoleon no longer had any obstacles to his political despotism. The needs of the bloc pushed him more and more to break the balance of the consular period between liberalism and protectionism, and to move towards more rigorous state interventionism. Frequent crises (1806-07, 1811), disturbed economic life. Napoleonic authoritarianism revealed its negative face in all fields, and internal discontents and emigrants old and new, such as Staël and Constant, found abroad in the principle of freedom in its various nuances the new platform on which to meet: freedom understood as a guarantee of revolutionary conquests; as a free development of the moral economic and political forces of a nation; as a possibility for the emigrated noble class to assert themselves with a room of peers.

While this new political mood was being formed, Napoleon was preparing the Russian campaign, which was the beginning of the end. Why did he break the Russian alliance, which alone could maintain peace in Europe? The question of the East certainly divided the two great empires, nor could Napoleon ignore it, master as he was of Italy and Illyria, but it was not yet an urgent question, because the Ottoman Empire, despite being old and worn out, could still resist.. Napoleon perhaps understood that Alexander was not a sincere friend, that one day he could place himself at the head of Austria and Prussia, yearning for the rescue, and wanted to prevent him when he was the strongest. But Napoleon, blinded by his successes, did not understand the moral strength of the Russian people, which had revealed itself to him in so many battles, the bloodiest he had won. And so he invaded Russia with a European army of more than half a million men, won at Borodino and entered Moscow. But peoples’ wars do not end with the taking of capitals, like those of kings: winter came and Napoleon lost his army in a disastrous retreat (1812).

Undeterred, he ran to France, imposed a new conscription and with a new army went to Saxony to face the Russians, who had joined the Prussians and were waiting for the Swedes. In Lützen, in Bautzen, in Dresden Napoleon defeats the Prussian-Russians. Austria intervenes as mediator and proposes honorable conditions to Napoleon, but Napoleon refuses. He has a clear sense of his political situation: the princes of blood can return to their capitals won twenty times without losing the throne, but he cannot return undone, his power is based on personal prestige and he must either win or disappear with that. noise to leave the memory of its greatness. And so we come to the great battle of Leipzig (October 16-18, 1813) and to that marvelous campaign of France, in which Napoleon with little means hindered the enemy’s advance step by step. But his marshals falter, Lyon and Paris capitulate to the enemy and he is forced to abdicate and retire to Elba.

The allies, in agreement with elements of the Napoleonic ruling class, place Louis XVIII on the throne, which grants a constitution with two chambers. France is humiliated by the allies, who reduce it to its pre-revolutionary borders, with the addition of Savoy; the intransigent emigrants terrify the country with their counter-revolutionary ambitions; the government lacks a firm pulse at a critical moment; one sighs and longs for the ruler, who seemed created by destiny to rule. And Napoleon returns, no longer as an authoritarian, but as a liberal one (additional act to the constitution of year X). The allies send against him the English of Wellington and the Prussians of Blücher, and at Waterloo the Napoleonic star sets forever. Paraphrasing a motto of Napoleon and turning it back against him, M. me de Staël asked what he had done with France, which the revolution had given him with the borders of the Rhine and the Alps. to France an immense prestige, he had done in a few years what the monarchy had accomplished in centuries, he left France a superb state armor, and had penetrated deeply into the soul of the people, as his legend will demonstrate, living and operating throughout the sec. XIX. he had done in a few years what the monarchy had accomplished in centuries, left France a superb state armor, and had penetrated deeply into the soul of the people, as his legend, living and operating throughout the century, will demonstrate. XIX.

France History - Il Consolato e l'Impero