In 1709 when Napoleon Bonaparte executed his coup de’ etat and seized power in France he was thirty years of age, short , of medium build, quiet and determined, with cold gray eyes and rather awkward manners. He had been born at Ajaccio in Corsica on August 15, 1769, just after the island had been purchased by France from Genoa but before the French had fully succeeded in quelling the stubborn insurrection of the Corsicans. Belonging to a prominent Italian and numerous Italian families, his name at the outset was written Napoleon di Buonarpate. He had been selected along with the sons of other Corsicans families to be educated at public expense in France. In this way he received a good military education at Brinne and at Paris.
During his youth he dreamed of becoming the leader of a movement for Corsican independence, but the outbreak of the French Revolution afforded him a wider opportunity for his ambition. Already an engineer and an artilleryman he sympathise with the Jacobins during the Revolution and acquired from the Italian Campaign of 1796 the reputation of being the most brilliant general of the French Republic.
Throughout his career Bonaparte professed himself to be the: son of the Revolution: the champion of the ideals of “Liberty, equality and fraternity.” It was to the Revolution that he owed his position in France and it was to France that he claimed to be preserving the fruits of the Revolution. Yet in practice, he emphasizes equality rather than liberty and by interpreting fraternity in a rather national than international sense. “What the French people want.” He declared “is equality, not liberty.” In the social order, he maintained the achievements of the Revolution, and recognised no distinction of class. But in the political order, he was more despotic than the monarchy of Louis XIV.
In 1802 Bonaparte was made Consul for life with the approval of a popular plebiscite. Two years later, his subservient Senate proposed that his office be made hereditary and its title changed from Consul to Emperor and the proposal was ratified by another plebiscite. On December 2, 1804 amid imposing ceremonies in the medieval cathedral of Notre Dame, in the presence of Pope Pius VII who had come from Rome to grace the event, General Bonaparte placed a crown upon his own head and assumed the title of Napolean I, emperor of France.
FACTORS FOR HIS SUCCESS: His success was due in large to the extra ordinary opportunity which French Politics at that time offered, but it was due, likewise to certain qualities of the young General.
i. He was thoroughly convinced of his own abilities, Ambitious, selfish and egoistical, he was always thinking and planning how he might become world famous. Fatalistic and even superstitious he believed that he was a “ man of destiny”
ii. Bonaparte possessed an effective means of satisfying his ambition. He was heir to the militarism of the French Revolution and he made himself the idol of his conscript soldiers. He spoke to the subaltern in a tone of good fellowship, which delighted them all, as he reminded them of their common feats of arms.
iii. He was unscrupulous. Knowing he desired, he was ready and willing to employ any means to attain his ends. No love for theories or principles, no fear of God or man, no sentimental aversion to bloodshed, nothing could deter him from striving to realize his vaulting but self centred ambition.
FIRST CONSUL OF FRENCH REPUBLIC: His new role was to devise an instrument a government to take the place of the constitution of the Year III. It concealed his dictatorship under a veil of popular force. It provided the three “Consuls”, the first of who was Genera, Bonaparte and the others named by him. The Consul appointed a Senate, which decided any conditional question and which also selected from lists chosen by popular voting, a Tribunate and a Legislative Body. The Tribunate discussed proposed legislation without voting upon it; the Legislative Body voted without discussion. Only the First Consul could proposed legislation. Bonaparte’s constitution was ratified by a popular plebiscite and became known as the Constitution of the Year VIII of the Republic.
ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMATION OF BONAPARTE:
1. Centralised administration
Bonaparte transferred the local government of departments and smaller districts( arrondissements) from elective officials to prefects and sub- prefects, appointed by himself. Local elective councils continued to exist, but they sat only for a fortnight in the year and dealt merely with the assesement of taxes; they might be consulted by the prefect but they had no check upon him. All mayors of cities and villages were designated by the prefects or directly by the central government. This highly centralised administration of the country afforded the people little direct voice in public affairs, but it possessed the advantage of assuring prompt and uniform execution of government decrees.
2. Treaty with the Church of France (Concordat with the Church): Bonaparte was determined to gain the political support of the large number of conscientious French Catholics who had been alienated by the anti-Christian measures of the revolutionaries. After protracted negotiations and against the wishes of the French radicals, a settlement was reached in a concordat (1801) between Pope Pius VII and the French Republic, whereby the Pope for his part, concurred in the confiscation of the property of the Church and the suppression of the monasteries and the state undertook to pay salaries of the clergy. The First Consul would nominate the bishops and the Pope would invest them with the office; the priest would be appointed by the bishops. In this way the Catholic Church was officially restored in France but it was tied to the national government more tightly than during the time of Louis IV.
3. Civil code of laws (1804): One of the fondest hopes cherished by the French revolutionaries was to clear away the confusion and discrepancies of the numerous legal systems of the old regime and to reduce the laws of the land to a simple and uniform national code, so that everyone who could read be able to know what was legal and what was not. Surrounding himself with legal advisors, the first Consul brought out a civil code (1804) which was followed by codes of civil procedures and criminal procedure, a penal code and a commercial code. The simplicity of these codes commended them not only to France, but to the greater part of continental Europe. The Civil Code preserved the social conquest of the Revolution such as civil equality, religious toleration, equality of Inheritance, emancipation of serfs, abolition of feudalism and privilege. Although the civil code retained many harsh punishments and that the position of woman was made distinctly inferior to that of man, but, on the whole, the French codes long remained a most convenient and enlightened set of laws.
4. National education: Primary or elementary schools were to be maintained by every commune under the general supervision of the prefects or sub-prefects
i. Secondary or grammar schools were to provide a special training in French, Latin and elementary science and were to be subject to control by the national government
ii. Lycees, or high schools were to be opened in evry important town and instruction given in the higher branches of learning by teachers appointed by the state
iii. Special schools such as technical schools, civil service schools and military schools were brought under regulation
iv. The university of France was established to maintained uniformity throughout the new educational system. Its chief official were appointed by the First Consul and no one might open a new school or teach in public unless he was licence by the university
v. The recruiting station for the teaching staff of the public schools was provided in a normal school organised in Paris. All these schools were directed to take the bases of their teaching the ethical principles of Christianity and loyalty to the head of the state. Despite continued efforts of Bonaparte, the new system was handicapped by lack of funds and experienced lay teachers, so that at the close of the Napoleanic era, more than half of the total number of French children still attended private schools, mostly those conducted by the Catholic Church.
5. Public works: Bonaparte proved to be a zealous benefactor of public works. He improved the means of communication and trade within the country and promoted the economic welfare of large classes of the inhabitants. In 1811 he could enumerate 229 broad military roads which he constructed, the most important of which thirty in number, radiated from Paris to the extremities of the French territory. Numerous substantial bridges were built. The former networks of canals and waterways were perfected. The principled seaports, both naval and commercial, were enlarged and fortified, especially the harbours of Cherbourg and Toulon. State palaces were restored and redecorated, monuments were erected. The city of Paris was beautified. The Louvre was completed and adorned with works of art brought from the spoils of victory from Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.
6. NAPOLEONS FOREIGN POLICY (MILITARY CONQUEST)
I. Renewal of Franco-British War: The British had struggled to maintain their control of the sea and the superiority of trade and industry which attended it. Now, when Napoleon extended French influence over the Belgian and Dutch Netherlands, along the Rhine and throughout Italy and even succeeded in negotiating an alliance with Spain, Britain was threatened with the loss of valuable commercial privileges in all those regions and was further alarmed by the colonial projects of Napoleon. In May 1803, therefore Great Britain Declared war. The immediate cause was Napoleon’s refusal to cease interfering in Italy, Switzerland and Holland. Napoleon welcomed the war and under William Pitt( the younger) who headed the ministry of England the Third Coalition was formed in 1805 by Great Britain, Austria, Russia and Sweden to overthrow Napoleon. Before the troops of the third Coalition could threaten the eastern frontier of France, napoleon abandoned his projected invasion of Great Britain, broke up his armaments along the Atlantic coast and marched his army upon Austrian near the town of Ulm in Wurttemberg. There on October 20, 1805, the Austrian commander with some 50,000 men, surrendered and the road to Vienna was open to the French. On October 21, the allied French and Spanish fleets, issuing from the harbour of Cadiz, encountered the British fleet under Lord Nelson and in a terrific battle off Cape Trafalgar were completely routed. Lord Nelson loses his life in the conflict.
II. War with Austria: Occupying Vienna he turned northwards into Moravia where Francis II and Alexander I had gathered an army of Austrians and Russians. On Dec, 2, 1805, Napoleon overwhelms the allies at Austerlitz. The immediate result of the campaign of Ulm and Austerlitz was the withdrawal of Austria from the Third Coalition. Late in December 1805, the emperor Francis II and Napoleon signed the Treaty of Pressburg. Austria ceded Venetia to the kingdom of Italy and recognized Napoleon as its king and also resigned the Tyrol to Bavaria an outlying provinces in western Germany to Wurttemberg. Both Bavaria and Württemberg were converted into kingdoms . By the treaty of Pressburg, Austria lost 3,000,000 subjects and large revenues and reduced to the rank of second rate power.
III. War with Prussia: Stung by the refusal of Napoleon to withdraw his troops from southern Germany Frederick William III in 1806 declard war against France. The Prussian army with 150,000 strong under the aged Duke of Brunswick advanced against the 200,000 veterans of Napoleon, the resulting battles of Jena and Auerstadt proved the superiority of Napoleon’s army over the Prussian. Napolean entered Berlin in triumph and took possession of the greater part of Prussia.
IV. End of the Third Coalition: In June 1807, at Friedland Napolean defeated the Russians. The Tsar Alexander at once sued for peace. At Tilsit Napolean and Alexander arranged the terms of peace for France, Russia and Prussia. Prussia had to pay the price of the alliance between French and Russian emperor. From it was taken the portion of Poland which was erected into a Granduchy of Warsaw, fewer than one of Napoleon’s German allies, the Elector of Saxony. Prussia was despoiled of half of its territories and compelled to reduce its army to 42, 000 men and to maintain French troops on its remaining lands until a large war indemnity was paid. Tilsit destroyed the third coalition and made napoleon master of the continent.
V. Reorganization of Germany: It was in Germany that Napoleon’s achievements were particularly striking. From 1801 to 1803, the Diet authorized the confiscation throughout southern Germany of ecclesiastical lands and free cities. One hundred and twelve formerly independent states lying east of the Rhine were wiped out of existence and nearly one hundred others on the west bank were embodied in France. Thus the number of German states was reduced from more than three hundred to less than one hundred and the states which mainly benefited , along with France were Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Baden and Saxony, all of which Napoleon desired to use an equipoise against Austria and Russia.
In 1806, pursuant to Napoleon’s wishes , the kings of Bavaria and Wurttemberg, The Grand- Dukes of Baden, Hesse- Darmstadt and Berg the Archbishop of Mainz and ninety nine minor princes virtually seceded from the Holy Roman Empire and formed : Confederation of the Rhine” under the protection of French emperor , whom they pledged to support with an army of 63000 men.
VI. Continental system: The Continental system had been foreshadowed under the Directory and in the early days of the Consulate. It was not until the Berlin Decree (November 1806) that the first major attempt was made to define and enforce it. In this decree, Napoleon proclaimed a state of blockade against Britsh Isles and closed French and allied ports to ships coming from Great Britain or its colonies. The Berlin Decree was further strengthened by decrees at Warsaw( January 1807), Milan ( December 1807) and Fontainebleau( October 1810)
The Milan decree ordered the confiscation of any British manufactured goods found in the Napoleonic states. In retaliation British government replied with “ orders in council”( January- November 1807), which declared all vessels trading with France or its allies liable to capture and provided further that in certain instances neutral vessels must touch at a British port.
DOWNFALL OF NAPOLEAN: Napoleon attained the height of power in 1808 and after that his decline began, Many factors were responsible for the rapid fall:
i. Napoleons character: One important factor was the limitation of individual genius. It is true that Napoleon was a genius but it is also true that he was a human being. It was impossible for him to do everything himself and since he was growing older , more corpulent and less able to withstand exertion and fatigue, fonder of affluence and ease. His success made him egoistical.
ii. Nature of Militarism: A second defect lay in the nature of militarism upon which the Napoleonic empire was constructed the new militarism was essentially tyrannical and as years passed by and the deadly campaigns repeated themselves, the number of patriotic volunteers declines, the emperor resorted to force conscription, forcibly taking away thousands of young Frenchmen from productive pursuits at home and strewing their bones throughout the continent. As time passed Napoleon’s grand army was rendered less homogeneous and less effective by the inclusion of Poles, Germans, Italians, Dutch Spaniards and Danes.
iii. Continental System: Another cause of his failure was the continental system Napoleon regarded England as the Enemy no.1 and to humble her numerous decrees were issued, which boomerang on France. His determination to exclude English goods and nationals from Portugal and Spain forced him to interfere in these countries./ the physical features and of the country and the constant flow of help from England by sea, enabled the people of Portugal and Spain to beat back French troops from the peninsula. The victories of the Duke of Wellington destroyed the myth of Napoleons invincibility.
iv. Russian Campaign: Napoleon’s Russian campaign was also another factor for his downfall. Disagreement between Tsar Nicholas Alexander of Russia and Napoleon erupted and in June 1812, Napoleon crossed the Nieman River and began invasion of Russia. His forces were superior in numbers, organization and equipment. Russian forces kept on retreating and Napoleon made a triumphal entry into the city, but the city was set on fire through carelessness and barracks and foodstuffs were destroyed, most of the inhabitants fled and the city was pillaged by French troops as well as by Russians, the lack of supplies, compelled Napoleon on October 22 to evacuate to Moscow and retrace his steps towards the Nieman. Napoleonic retreat from Moscow is one of the most terrible episodes in history and led to his downfall. His grand Army was completely destroyed along with his prestige. It was his retreat from Moscow in a helpless condition that encouraged his enemies to join hands and bring about his fall.
v. Battle of the Nations (1813): The Battle of the Nations in 1813, at Leipzig on October 16-19 marked the collapse of Napoleon’s power outside France. His empire and puppet states crumbled like a house of card. With the remaining defeated army Napoleon resisted and prolonged the struggle on French soil. Within a month, Paris surrendered to the Allies which was formed by Great Britain, Russia, Austria and Prussia on March 1, 1813; thirteen days later Napoleon signed with the allied sovereigns the personal treaty of Fontainebleau, by which he abdicated his throne and was exiled to the island of Elba with an annual pension of two million Francs for himself.
vi.Battle of Waterloo and Napoleons final defeat: on February 26, 1815, Napoleon slipped away from Elba with some 700 men and manages to elude the British guardships, disembarked at Cannes on March 1 and advanced northward. The four great powers solemnly renewed their treaty of alliance and signed a declaration to defeat Napoleon. On June 18, he fought the final great battle of his remarkable career at Waterloo against the combined force of British, Dutch and Germans under the command of Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington.
IMPORTANCE OF THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO: The battle of Waterloo has been one of the world’s decisive battles since it united almost al Europe against Europe and secondly Waterloo added the prestige to the naval pre-eminence which Great Britain already enjoyed and established the reputation of Wellington as victor over Napoleon.
EXILE AND DEATH OF NAPOLEON: ON June 21 Napoleon arrived in Paris, defeated and dejected. The following day Napoleon abdicated the second time in favour of his son and the provisional government of France. On July 15, the day following the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille, Napoleon was despatches on another British warship to the rocky island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic. Here he lived five and a half years. On May 5, 1851, Napoleon died on the island of St. Helena.
INTRODUCTION: In March 1814, the enemies of Napoleon entered his capital with triumph. The overthrow of Napoleon brought with it one of the most complicated and difficult problems over presented to statement s and diplomats. As all the nations of Europe has been affected by the enterprises, so all were profoundly affected by his fall During that period boundaries were changed rapidly and refashioned therefore the defeat of Napoleonic regime must be followed by the reconstruction of Europe . The reconstruction was foreshadowed by the treaties concluded with each other by each other as they entered the Great Coalition, particularly important were the Treaties of Paris and Vienna.
Treaty of Paris: On May 30th 1814 was concluded the Treaty of Paris between the Allies on the one hand and France under Louise XVIII on the other.
i. According to the treaty the boundary of France were to be those of January 1, 1792 with slight additions towards the southeast in Savoy and in the north and north east.
ii. On the other hand she was to relinquish all her conquest beyond that line, which meant the extensive territories of Netherlands, Italy, and parts of Germany, containing in all a population of about thirty two millions.
iii. The distribution of this territories was to be determined later , but it was already decided in principle and slated in the treaty,
iv. that the Netherlands should form a single state by the addition of the Belgian provinces to Holland , Lombardy and Venetia should go to Austria, Republic of Genoa should be incorporated in Sardinia, the states of Germany should be united in a federation, England should keep Malta and certain French colonies, returning others, German territories on the left bank of the Rhine , united to France since 1792 should be used for the enlargement of Holland and as compensation to Prussia and other German states, Italy were to go to Austria.
The definite elaboration of these intentions of the Allies was to be the work of a general international congress to be held later in the year in Vienna.
CONGRESS OF VIENNA (SEPT. 1814- JUNE 1815)
The congress of Vienna (September 1814- June 1815) was one of the most important diplomatic gatherings in the history of Europe, by reason of the number, variety and gravity of the questioned presented and settled. It was due to the recognition of the decisive part played by Austria and of the commanding personality of Metternich that Vienna was chosen as the scene of the international congress. There were the emperors of Austria and Russia, the kings of Prussia, Bavaria, Wurtermberg, Denmark, a multitude of lesser princes and all the diplomats of Europe of whom Metternich and Tallyrand were the most important. All the powers were were represented except Turkey. The Congress of Vienna was not a congress in the ordinary meaning of the word. There was never any former opening nor any general exchange of credentials. The signatories of the treaty of Chaumont would decide all
matters among themselves and then present their decision merely as perfunctory
ratification. But Tallyrand threatened to nullify the program of the “ Big Four”( Austria,
Prussia, Russia and great Britain) by invoking the treaty of Paris in favour of a full and free
congress of all the powers , which was backed by Spain, Portugal, Sweden and the lesser
A. Principle of Legitimacy and Compromise:
i. A ‘Final Act’ was signed in June 1815, embodying what is commonly called
the peace settlement of Vienna. Accordingly, the treaties of Vienna
recognised the restoration of the Bourbons in France, in Spain and in the two
Sicilies , of the House of Orange in Holland, of the House of Savoy in Sardinia
and Piedmont, of the Pope to his temporal possessions in central Italy and of
various German princes whose territories had been included in the
Confederation of the Rhine. Likewise , Austria recovered the Tyrol and other
lands of which it had been despoiled and the loose Swiss confederation was
restored under a guarantee of neutrality. Great Britain appropriated, along
with certain French and Spanish trading posts, the important Dutch colonies
of Ceylon and South Africa and a part of Guiana.
ii. To compensate the Dutch and to erect a stronger state on the northern
frontier of France, the southern( Austrian) Netherlands were joined with
northern( Dutch) Netherlands under the rule of the restored Dutch prince of
Orange, now recognised as the King of United Netherlands.
iii. To compensate Austria for the surrender of its claims on the southern
Netherlands, it was given a commanding position in Italy. The territories of
the historic republic of Venice( including the Illyrian provinces along the
eastern coast of the Adriatic) and the duchy of Milan( Lombardy) were
transferred outright to the Habsburg Empire and members of the Habsburg
family were seated upon the thrones of the small central states of Tuscany,
Parma and Modena
iv. Sweden as compensation for the cession of Finland to Russia and of
Pomerania to Prussia, secured Norway from Denmark, whose protracted
alliance with napoleon merit a severe punishment
v. Prussia’s gained were significant, it recovered all the German territories of
which it had despoiled by Napoleon and in addition it acquired Swedish
Pomerania, two-fifths of Saxony, the whole of Westphalia and most of the
Rhineland. These cession were intended to make Prussia a bulwark against
France but in the long run they did more. They provided it with mineral
resources of the greatest economic importance during the ensuing century
and in conjunction with the surrender of” congress of Poland” to Russia, they
tend to transform Prussia from a half –slavic, thoroughly agricultural state
into the leading industrial state of Germany.