The success of Bonaparte in reorganizing France may be ascribed to his determined practicality and to his perception of the needs of the average man. Since the death of Mirabeau no one had appeared who could strike the happy mean and enforce his will on the extremes on either side.
Bonaparte did so with a forcefulness rarely possessed by that usually mediocre creature, the moderate man. It is time now to notice the chief events which ensured the ascendancy of Bonaparte. Military, diplomatic and police affairs were skilfully made to conduce to that result. In the first of these spheres the victory of Marengo 14th of June was of special importance, as it consolidated the reputation of Bonaparte at a time when republican opposition was gathering strength.
As Lucien Bonaparte remarked, if Marengo had been lost-and it was saved only by Desaix and Kellermann-the Bonaparte family would have been proscribed. Negotiations for peace now followed; but they led to nothing, until Moreau's triumph at Hohenlinden December 2nd, ISOO brought the court of Vienna to a state of despair.
True, she now agreed to recognise the independence of the Cisalpine, Ligurian, Helvetic and Batavian Dutch republics; but the masterful acquisitiveness of the First Consul and the weak conduct of Austrian and British affairs at that time soon made that clause of the treaty a dead letter. Bonaparte meanwhile, by dexterous behaviour to Paul I.
The new Franco-Russian entente helped on the formation of the Armed Neutrality League and led to the concoction of schemes for the driving of the British from India. But these undertakings were thwarted in March-April by the murder of the tsar Paul and by Nelson's victory at Copenhagen. The advent of the more peaceful and Anglophile tsar, Alexander I. These events disposed both Bonaparte and the British cabinet towards peace. He was all powerful on land, they on the sea; and for the present each was powerless to harm the other.
Bonaparte in particular discerned the advantages which peace would bring in the consolidation of his position. The beginning of negotiations had been somewhat facilitated by the resignation of Pitt 4th of February and the advent to office of Henry Addington. Bonaparte, perceiving the weakness of Addington, both as a man and as a minister, pressed him hard; and both the Preliminaries of Peace, concluded at London on the 1st of October , and the terms of the treaty of Amiens 27th of March were such as to spread through the United Kingdom a feeling of annoyance. In everything which related to the continent of Europe and to the resumption of trade relations between Great Britain and France, Bonaparte had his way; and he abated his demands only in a few questions relating to India and Newfoundland.
The terms of the treaty of Amiens may be thus summarized: Great Britain restored to France the colonial possessions almost the whole of the French colonial empire conquered in the late war. Of their many maritime conquests the British retained only the Spanish island of Trinidad and the Dutch settlements in Ceylon.
Their other conquests at the expense of these allies of France were restored to them, including the Cape of Good Hope to the Dutch. France recognized the integrity of the Turkish Empire and promised an indemnity to the House of Orange exiled from the Batavian Dutch Republic since She further agreed to evacuate the papal states, Taranto and other towns in the Mediterranean coasts which she had occupied.
The independence of the Ionian Isles now reconstituted as the Republic of the Seven Islands was guaranteed. As to Malta, the United Kingdom was to restore it to the order of St John its possessors previous to when the Great Powers had guaranteed its independence. It was to receive a Neapolitan garrison for a year, and, if necessary, for a longer time.
No event in the life of Bonaparte was more auspicious than the conclusion of this highly advantageous bargain. By retaining nearly all the continental conquests of France, and by recovering every one of those which the British had made at her expense beyond the seas, he achieved a feat which was far beyond the powers even of Louis XIV. The gratitude of the French for this triumph found expression in a proposal, emanating from the Tribunate, that the First Consul should receive a pledge of the gratitude of the nation. This fell far short of his desires, and he now dexterously referred the whole question to the nation at large.
The Council of State. Napoleon who now used his Christian name instead of the surname Bonaparte thereupon sent proposals for various changes in the constitution, which were at once registered by the obsequious Council of State and the Senate on the 4th of August 16 Thermidor Besides holding his powers for life, he now gained the right of nominating his successor.
He alone could ratify treaties of peace and alliance, and on his nomination fifty-four senators were added to the senate, which thereafter numbered one hundred and twenty members appointed by him alone. In short, the First Consul now became the irresponsible ruler of France, governing the country through the ministry, the Council of State and the Senate.
As for the chambers, based avowedly on universal suffrage, their existence thenceforth was ornamental or sepulchral. The constitutional changes of August , initiated solely by Bonaparte, made France an absolute monarchy. The name of Empire was not adopted until nearly two years later; but the change then brought about was scarcely more than titular. In order to understand the utter inability of the old republican party to withstand these changes, it is needful to retrace our steps and consider the skilful use made by Bonaparte of plots and disturbances as they occurred.
As was natural, when he sought to steer a middle course between the Scylla of royalism and the Charybdis of jacobinism, disturbances were to be expected on both sides of the consular ship of state. Far more serious was the danger to be apprehended from the royalists. Their chief man f action was a sturdy Breton peasant, Georges Cadoudal, whosefgeal and courage served to bring to a head planS long talked over by the confidants of the Comte d'Artois the future Charles X.
The outcome of it was the despatch of some five or six Chouan desperadoes to Paris, three of whom exploded an infernal machine close to Bonaparte's carriage in the narrow streets near the Tuilcries 3rd Nivose [24th of December] Bonaparte and Josephine escaped uninjured, but several bystanders were killed or wounded. Napoleon's vengeance at once took a strongly practical turn.
The body charged with the guarding of the constitution was thus brought by Bonaparte to justify its violation; and a way was thus opened for the legalizing of further irregularities. It is to be observed that, before the punishment was inflicted, evidence was forthcoming which brought home the outrage of Nivose to the royalists; but this was all one to Bonaparte; his aim was to destroy the Iacobin party, and it never recovered from the blow. The party which had set up the Committee of Public Safety was now struck down by the very man who through the Directory inherited by direct lineal descent the dictatorial powers instituted in the s ring of for the salvation of the republic.
It remains to add that the suspects in the plot of October were now guillotined 31st of January , and that two of the plotters closely connected with the affair of Nivose were also executed 21st of April. The institution of the special tribunals already referred to , which enabled Bonaparte to supersede local government in thirty-two of the departments, was another Outcome of the bomb conspiracy.
Bonaparte's action in the years showed that he feared the old republican party far more than the royalists. Very many accepted these terms, rallied to the First Consul with more or less sincerity; and their return to France to strengthen the conservative elements in French society. But before referring to this last proof of the Machiavellian skill of the great Corsican in dealing with plots, it is needful to notice the events which brought him into collision with the British nation.
The treaty of Amiens had contained germs which ensured its dissolution at no distant date; but even more serious was the conduct of Bonaparte after the conclusion of peace. He carried matters with so high a hand in the affairs of Holland, Switzerland and Italy as seriously to diminish the outlets for British trade in Europe.
His treatment of the Italians was equally high-handed. Next, he summoned the chief men of the Francophile party in that republic to Lyons in the early days of , in order to arrange with them the appointment of the chiefs of the executive. It soon appeared that the real aim of the meeting was to make Bonaparte president. He let it be known that he strongly disapproved of their proposal to elect Count Melzi, the Italian statesman most suitable for the post; and a hint given by Talleyrand showed the reason for his disapproval.
The deputies thereupon elected Bonaparte. As for the neighbouring land, Piedmont, it was already French in all but name. On the 21st of April he issued a decree which constituted Piedmont as a military district dependent on France; for various reasons he postponed the final act of incorporation to the 21st of September The Genoese republic a little earlier underwent at his hand changes which made its doge all-powerful in local affairs, but a mere puppet in the hands of Bonaparte.
In central Italy the influence of the First Consul was paramount; for in he transformed the grand duchy of Tuscany into the kingdom of Etruria for the duke of Parma; and, seeing that that promotion added lustre to the fortunes of the duchess of Parma a Spanish infanta , Spain consented lamely enough to the cession of Louisiana to France.
The policy of the French revolutionists had been to surround France with free and allied republics. The policy of the First Consul was to transform them into tributaries which copied with chameleonic fidelity the political fashions he himself set at Paris.
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Of all these interventions the most justifiable and beneficent, perhaps, was that which related to the Swiss cantons. Whether his agents did, or did not, pour oil on the fiames of civil strife, which he thereupon quenched by his Act of Mediation, 19th of February ISO3, is a. The settlement which he thereby imposed was in many ways excellent; but it was dearly purchased by the complete ascendancy of Bonaparte in all important affairs, and by the claim for the services of a considerable contingent of Swiss troops which he thereafter rigorously enforced.
On the 'goth of January he caused the official French paper, the M oniteur, to publish in extenso a confidential report sent by Colonel Sebastiani describing his so-called commercial mission to the Levant. Ministers were also deeply concerned at the continued occupation of Holland by French troops, which made that country and, therefore, the Cape of Good Hope, absolutely dependent on France. Napoleon's refusal to give this, and his complaint that Great Britain had neglected to comply with some of the provisions of the treaty of Amiens, brought Anglo-French relations to an acute phase.
By great dexterity he succeeded in turning public attention almost solely to the fact that Britain had not evacuated Malta. This is probably the sense in which we may interpret his tirade against Lord Whitworth at the diplomatic circle on the 13th of March. While not using threats of personal violence, as was generally reported at the time, his language was threatening and offensive. They shall answer for it to all Europe. If so, he succeeded. On the 4th of April the Addington cabinet made proposals with a view to compensation.
In return for the great accessions of power to France since the treaty of Amiens Elba, it may be noted, was annexed in August r8o2 Great Britain was to retain Malta for ten years and to acquire the small island of Lampedusa in perpetuity. Despite the urgent efforts of Joseph Bonaparte and Talleyrand to bend the First Consul, he refused to listen to these proposals.
Finally, on the 7th of May, the British government sent a secret offer to withdraw from Malta as soon as the French evacuated Holland. To this also Napoleon demurred. The rupture, therefore, took place in the middle of May; and on a flimsy pretext the First Consul ordered the detention in France of all English persons. The reasons for his annoyance are now well known. It is certain that he was preparing to renew the struggle for the mastery of the seas and of the Orient, which must break out if he held to his present resolve to found a great colonial empire.
But he needed time in order to build a navy and to prepare for the execution of the schemes for the overthrow of the British power in India, which he had lately outlined to General Decaen, the new governor of the French possessions in that land. The sailing of Decaen's squadron early in March had alarmed the British ministers and doubtless confirmed.
Napoleon wished to postpone the rupture for fully eighteen months, as is shown by his secret instructions to Decaen. The British government did not know the whole truth; but, knowing the character of Napoleon, it saw that peace was as dangerous as war. In any case, it sent the proposals of the 4th of April in order to test the sincerity of his recent offer of compensation to England. He refused them, mainly, it would seem, because he could not believe that the Addington ministry could be firm; and in his rage at the discovery of his error he revenged himself ignobly on British tourists and traders in France.
Disregarding the neutrality of the Germanic System, Napoleon sent a strong French corps to overrun Hanover, while he dispatched General Gouvion St Cyr to occupy Taranto and other dominating positions in the south-east of the kingdom of Naples. Through Spain he then threatened Portugaksiwith extinction unless she too paid a heavy subsidy, a demand with which the court of Lisbon was fain to comply.
Thus the first months of the war served to differentiate the two belligerents. England made short work of the French squadrons and colonies, particularly in the West Indies, while Napoleon became more than ever the master of central and southern Europe. The whole course of the war was to emphasize this distinction between the Sea Power and the Land Power; and in this fact lay the source of N apoleon's ascendancy in France and neighbouring lands, as also of his final overthrow.
Napoleon's utter disregard of the neutrality of neighbouring states was soon to be revealed in the course of a royalist plot which helped him to the imperial title. Georges Cadoudal, General Pichegru and other devoted royalists had concocted with the comte d'Artois afterwards Charles X. The French police certainly knew of the plot, allowed the conspirators to come to Paris, arrested them there, and also on the 16th of February ISO4 General Moreau, with whom Pichegru had two or three secret conferences. This was much; for Moreau, though indolent and incapable in political affairs, was still immensely popular in the army always more republican than the civilians and might conceivably head a republican movement against the autocrat.
But far more was to follow. Failing through his police to lure the comte d'Artois to land in Normandy, Napoleon pounced on a scion of the House of Bourbon who was within his reach. The young duc d'Enghien was then residing at Ettenheim in Baden near the bank of the Rhine. He therefore sent orders to have him seized by French soldiers and brought to Vincennes near Paris. The order was skilfully obeyed, and the prince was hurried before a court-martial hastily summoned at that castle.
Before they passed the verdict, Napoleon came to see that his victim was innocent of any participation in the plot. Nevertheless he was executed zrst of March It is noteworthy that though Napoleon at times sought to shift the responsibility for this deed on Talleyrand or Savary, yet during his voyage to St Helena, as also in his will, he frankly avowed his responsibility for it and asserted that in the like circumstances he would do the same again. The horror aroused by this crime did not long deaden the feeling, at least in official circles, that something must be done to introduce the principle of heredity, as the surest means of counteracting the aims of conspirators.
Carnot alone in the tribunate protested against the measure. The other councils adopted it almost unanimously. The Senatus Consultum of the 18th of May awarded to Napoleon the title of emperor, the succession in case he had no heir devolving in turn upon the descendants of Joseph and Louis Bonaparte Lucien and Ierorne were for the present excluded from the succession owing to their having contracted marriages displeasing to Napoleon. In this vote lay the justification of the acts of the First Consul and the pledge for the greatness of the emperor Napoleon.
The republicans in nearly every case voted for h. The changes brought about by this constitution were mainly titular. Napoleon's powers as First Consul for Life were so wide as to render much extension both superfluous and impossible; but we may note here that the senate now gained a furtfier accession of authorit at the expense of the two legislative bodies: and practically legislation rested with the emperor, who sent his decrees to the senate to be registered as senatus consulta. Napoleon's chief aversion, the tribunate, was also divided into three sections, dealing with legislation, home affairs and finance-a division which preluded its entire suppression in More important were the titular changes Napoleon, as we have seen, did not venture to create an order of nobility until , but he at once established an imperial hierarchy.
First came the French princes, namely, the brothers of the em eror; six grand im erial dignities were also instituted, viz. These six formed the emperor's grand council. Meanwhile Napoleon was triumphing over the last of the republican generals. Moreau's trial for treason promised to end with an acquittal; but the emperor brought severe pressure to bear on the judges one of whom he dismissed , with the result that the general was declared guilty of participating in the royalist plot.
Sentence of death was passed on the royalist conspirators. On Josephine's entreaties, the emperor commuted the sentence for eight of the well-connected men among them; Cadoudal and others of lower extraction were executed on the 24th of June. Thenceforth p ots were few. Would-be plotters remained quiet from sheer terror of his power and ability, or from a conviction that conspiracies redounded to his advantage.
THE CORSICAN: The Virtual Diary of Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon was now able by degrees to dispense with all republican forms the last to go was the Republican Calendar which ceased on the 1st of January , and the scene at the Coronation in Notre Dame on the 2nd of December was frankly imperial in splendour and in the egotism which led Napoleon to wave aside the pope, Pius VII. It is worthy of note that Josephine then won a triumph over Joseph Bonaparte and his sisters, who had been intriguing to effect a divorce. Napoleon, though he did not bar the door absolutely against such a proceeding, granted hgr her heart's desire by secretly going through a religious ceremony on the evening before the coronation.
It was performed by Fesch, now a cardinal; but Napoleon could afterwards urge the claim that all the legal formalities had not been complied with; and the motive for the marriage may probably be found in the refusal of the pope to appear at the coronation unless the former civil contract was replaced by the religious rite.
As happened at every stage of Napoleon's advancement, the states tributary to France underwent changes corresponding to those occurring at Paris. The most important of these was the erection of monarchy in North Italy. The Italian republic formerly the Cisalpine republic became the kingdom of Italy. At first Napoleon desired to endow Joseph, or, on his refusal, Louis, with the crown of the new kingdom.
They, however, refused to place themselves out of the line of direct succession in France, as Napoleon required, in case they accepted this new dignity. Finally, he resolved to take the title himself. The obsequious authorities at Milan at once furthered his design by sending an address to him, by requesting the establishment of royalty, and on the 1 5th of March by offering the crown to him. On the 26th of May he crowned himself in the cathedral at Milan with the iron crown of the old Lombard kings, amidst surroundings of the utmost splendour.
On the 7th of June he issued a decree conferring the dignity of viceroy on Eugene de Beauharnais, his stepson; but everything showed that Napoleon 'S will was to be law; and the great powers at once saw that Napoleon's promise to keep the crowns of France and Italy separate was meaningless. The defiance to Austria was emphasized when, on the 4th of June, he promised a deputation from Genoa that he would grant their request prompted by his agents of incorporating the Genoese or Ligurian republic in the French empire.
In the same month he erected the republic of Lucca into a principality for Bacciochi and his consort, Elisa Bonaparte. These actions proclaimed so unmistakably Napo1eon's intention of making Italy an annexe of France as to convince Francis of Austria and Alexander of Russia that war with him was inevitable. The tsar, as protector of the Germanic System, had already been so annoyed by the seizure of the duc d'Enghien on German territory, and by other high-handed actions against the Hanse cities, as to recall his ambassador from Paris.
Napoleon showed his indifference to the opinion of the tsar by ordering the seizure of the British envoy at Hamburg, Sir George Rumbold 24th of October ; but set him free on the remonstrance of the king of Prussia, with whom he then desired to remain on friendly terms. Nevertheless, the general trend of his policy was such as powerfully to help on the formation of the Third Coalition against France-a compact which Pitt who returned to power in May had found it very difficult to arrange.
Disputes with Russia respecting Malta and the British maritime code kept the two states apart for nearly a year; and Austria was too timid to move. But Napoleon's actions, especially the annexation of Genoa, at last brought the three powers to accord, with the general aim of re-establishing the status quo ante in Germany, Holland, Switzerland and Italy, or, in short, of restoring the balance of power which Napoleon had completely upset.
Military affairs in this period are dealt with under N APoL1:oNrc CAMPAIGNS; but it may be noted here that during the anxious days which Napoleon spent at the camp of Boulogne in the second and third weeks of August , uncertain whether to risk all in an attack on England in case Villeneuve should arrive, or to turn the Grand Army against Austria, the only step which he took to avert a continental war was the despatch of General Duroc to Berlin to offer Hanover to Prussia on consideration of her framing a close alliance with France. It was very unlikely that that peace-loving Court would take up arms against its powerful neighbours on behalf of Napoleon, and his proceedings in the previous months had been so recklessly provocative as to arouse doubts whether he intended to invade England and did not welcome the outbreak of a continental-war.
But in the case of a man so intensely ambitious, determined and egoistic as Napoleon, a decision on this interesting question is hazardous. Little reliance can be placed on his subsequent statements as, for instance, to Metternich in that the huge preparations at Boulogne and the long naval campaign of Villeneuve were a mere ruse whereby to lure the Austrians into a premature declaration of war.
It is, however, highly probable that he meant to strike at London if naval affairs went well, but that he was glad to have at hand an alternative which would shroud a. On or about the 25thth of August he resolved to strike at Austria. The glamour of Austerlitz had very naturally dazzled all F renchmen. Its results indeed were not only astounding at the time, but were such as to lead up to a new cycle of wars.
By the peace of Presburg 26th of December Napoleon compelled Austria to recognize all the recent changes in Italy, and further to cede Venetia, Istria and Dalmatia to the new kingdom of Italy. Nor was this all. Napoleon pressed almost equally hard upon Prussia. That power had been on the point of offering her armed mediation in revenge for his violation of her territory of Anspach; but she was fain to accept the terms which he offered at the sword's point. When modified in February , after Prussia's demobilization, they comprised the occupation of Hanover by Prussia, with the proviso, however, that she should exclude British ships and goods from the whole of the north-west coast of Germany.
Anspach and Bayreuth were also to be handed over to Bavaria, it now being the aim of Napoleon to aggrandize the South German princes who had fought on his side in the late war. By these alliances the new Charlemagne seemed to have founded his supremacy in South Germany on sure foundations. Equally striking was his success in Italy. The Bourbons of Naples had broken their treaty engagements with Napoleon, though in this matter they were perhaps as much sinned against as sinning. After Austerlitz the conqueror fulminated against them, and sent southwards a strong column which compelled an Anglo-Russian force to sail away and brought about the flight of the Bourbons to Sicily February True to his Corsican instinct of attachment to the family, and contempt for legal and dynastic claims, he now began to plant his brothers and other relatives in what had been republics established by the French Jacobins.
Eugene Beauharnais had been established. I am making a family of kings attached to my federative system.
- About the author.
- The Corsican: A Diary of Napoleon's Life in His Own Words by Robert Matteson Johnston.
A little later the emperor bestowed the two papal enclaves of Benevento and Ponte-Corvo on 'I'alley rand and Bernadotte respectively, an' act which emphasized the hostility which had been growing between Napoleon and the papacy. Because Pius VII. He occupied Ancona and seemed about to annex the Papal States outright. That -doom was postponed; but Catholics everywhere saw with pain the harsh treatment accorded to a defenceless old man. The prestige which the First Consul had gained by the Concordat was now lost by the overweening emperor. But it was on the banks of the Rhine that the Napoleonic system received its most signal developments.
The duchy of Berg, along with the eastern part of Cleves and other annexes, now went to Murat, brother-in-law of Napoleon March ; and that melodramatic soldier at once began to round off his eastern boundary in a way highly offensive to Prussia.
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She was equally concerned by Napoleon's behaviour in the Dutch Netherlands, where her influence used to be supreme. On the 5th of June the Batavian republic completed its chrysalis-like transformations by becoming a kingdom for Louis Bonaparte. In that sentence lay the secret of all the disagreements between the two brothers. Louis resolved to govern for the good of his subjects. Napoleon determined that he, like all the Bonapartist rulers, should act merely as a Napoleonic satrap. They were to be to him what the counts of the marches were to Charlemagne, warlike feudatories defending the empire or overawing its prospective foes.
Far morewas to follow. On the 17th of July Napoleon signed at Paris a decree that reduced to subservience the Germanic System, the chaotic weakness of which he had in foreseen to be highly favourable to France. He now grouped together the princes of south and central Germany in the Confederation of the Rhine, of which he was the protector and practically the ruler in all important affairs. The logical outcome of this proceeding appeared on the 1st of August, when Napoleon declared that he no longer recognized the existence of the Holy Roman Empire.
The head of that venerable organism, the emperor Francis II. This tame acquiescence of the House of Habsburg in the reorganization of Germany seemed to set the seal on Napoleon's work. He controlled all the lands from the Elbe to the Pyrenees, and had Spain and Italy at his beck and call. Power such as this was never wielded by his prototype, Charlemagne. But now came a series of events which transcended all that the mind of man had conceived. As the summer of wore on, his policy perceptibly hardened. Negotiations with England and Russia served to show the extent of his ambition.
Sicily he was determined to have, and that too despite of all the efforts of the Fox-Grenville cabinet to satisfy him in every other direction. In his belief that he could ensnare the courts of London and St Petersburg into separate and proportionately disadvantageous treaties, he overreached himself. The tsar indignantly repudiated a treaty which his envoy, Oubril, had been tricked into signing at Paris; and the Fox-Grenville cabinet as also its successor refused to bargain away Sicily.
War, therefore, went on. What was more, Prussia, finding that Napoleon had secretly offered to the British Hanover that gilded hook by which he caught her early in the year , now resolved to avenge this, the last of several insults. Napoleon was surprised by the news of Prussia's mobilization; he had come to regard her as a negligible quantity, and now he found that her unexpected sensitiveness on points of honour was about to revivify the Third Coalition against France. The war which broke out early in October sometimes known as the war of the Fourth Coalition ran a course curiously like that of in its main outlines.
For Austria we may read Prussia; for Ulm, Jena-Auerstadt; for the occiipation of Vienna, that of Berlin; for Austerlitz, Friedland, which again disposed of the belated succour given by Russia. The parallel extends even to the secret negotiations; for, if Austria could have been induced in May to send an army against N apoleon's communications, his position would have been fully as dangerous as before Austerlitz if Prussia had taken a similar step. Once more he triumphed owing to the timidity of the central power which had the game in its hands; and the folly which marked the Russian tactics at Friedland 14th of June , as at Austerlitz, enabled him to close the campaign in a blaze of glory and shiver the coalition in pieces.
The Peace of Presburg was merely continental. That of Tilsit was of world-wide importance. But before referring to its terms we must note an event which indicated the lines on which Napoleon's policy would advance. After occupying the Prussian capital he launched against England the famous Berlin Decree 21st of November , declaring her coasts to be in a state of blockade, and prohibiting all commerce with them.
This decree is often called the basis of the Continental System, whereby Napoleon proposed to ruin England by ruining her commerce. But even before Trafalgar he had begun to strike at that most vulnerable form of wealth, as the Iacobins had done before him. Nelson's crowning triumph rendered impossible for the present all other means of attack on those elusive foes; and Napoleon's sense of the importance of that battle may be gauged, not by his public utterances on the subject, but by his persistence in forcing Prussia to close Hanover and the whole coastline of north-west Germany against British goods.
Government and Religion under the Reign of Napoleon
That proceeding, in February , constitutes the basis of the Continental System. The Berlin Decree gave it a wide extension. By the mighty blow of Friedland and the astonishing diplomatic triumph of Tilsit, the conqueror hoped speedily to overwhelm the islanders beneath the mass of the world's opposition. Napoleon at Tilsit resembles Polyphemus seeking to destroy Ulysses. The crags which he flung at Britannia did indeed graze the Stern and graze the prow of her craft.
The triumph won at Friedland marks in several respects the climax of Napoleon's career. The opportunity was unique; and he now put forth his utmost endeavours to win over to his side the conquered but still formidable tsar. In their first interview, held on a raft in the middle of the river Niemen at Tilsit on the 2 5th of June, the French emperor, by his mingled strength and suppleness of intellect, gained an easy mastery over the impressionable young potentate. If the relationship between the Catholic church and France was finally restored, this action could very well have improved international relations with countries like Belgium, Italy and Switzerland.
While Napoleon knew that having the churches influence would contribute to a more peaceful and controlled society, he himself seemed to struggle with the ideal of religion altogether. He often asked his secretary, "Did Jesus ever exist? Or did he not?
I think that no contemporary historian has ever mentioned him. To define these terms a bit further, an atheist believes that there is not higher power whatsoever, while a deist believes that there is a God who created the earth, but is uninvolved and uninterested in human activity. Napoleon knew that while he may not personally hold to the Christian faith, the influence of the Catholic church on the people who remained faithful would have outstanding long-term effects.
When addressing the Clergy of Milan on June 5, Napoleon declared the reason for why he decided to reinstate the Catholic church as a political power as well as a religion. He stated that he was "Persuaded that is the only true religion which can provide a well-ordered society with true happiness, and reinforce the foundations of a good government Thus the stage was being set for what would become one of the most important legislative agreements to be made in the history of the Catholic Church and certainly one of the most important political actions accomplished by Napoleon himself.
Gaining the backing strength of the Vatican would seem to be a daunting task. One would assume that the Pope would hold an immense grudge over the country of France due to the incredible violence that was shown to clergymen during the Terror. Fortunately for France, the rise of a newly appointed Pope would prove very useful in accomplishing the Napoleonic goal. Prior to his papacy he served as the Bishop of Tivoli, a position in which he would prove himself to be a great leader in times of political change.
Negotiations for what would become known as the Concordant began in July of In order to ensure that his plan for the reinstatement of the Catholic church would not be harmed, Napoleon himself did not take part in the negotiations themselves though his influence was present throughout the entire process. The bulk of the negotiations were held between Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte , along with the former Vendeen leader Etienne-Alexander Bernier The Vatican sent its own ambassadors to this meeting, one man being the Pope's theological advisor Charles Caselli and the Papal legate Cardinal Giovanni Caprara.
It was the full intention of the Pope to reform the Catholic church to what it had been before the Revolution. Before the Revolution the church had been the entire body of the First Estate and therefore had significant influence within the Estates General, however with the rise of Robespierre and the supporters of the Revolution who were keen to the ideals of the Enlightenment their power began to fall.
Pius VII saw the outcome of the negotiations as a large step in establishing the Catholic church as a power in western Europe after many years of deception and ridicule, and the negotiations which brought about the Concordant gave significant advantages to the church. Once it became official that the Catholic church would be restored as the main religion of France, Napoleon began to work out another piece of legislation which became known as the Organic Articles.
These laws also restricted papal intervention in France, allowing Catholicism to be brought back into power, but with Napoleon keeping complete control. The articles proposed by Napoleon hamstrung the church by limiting its freedoms, or at the very least ensuring that the church can do nothing without the government's knowledge. It was becoming all the more obvious that while Napoleon had the utmost respect for the Catholic Church, he had a greater mission.
The Corsican; a diary of Napoleon's life in his own words ...
This mission was to use the church as a means of governing the people rather than bringing religion back to the recuperating nation that was early nineteenth century France. He felt that this reinstallation of Catholicism would raise the morale of the French people so that they would be more open to the changes and ideals that were being set forth by the Consulate. However Napoleon did not stop at limiting the contact between the Catholic Church in France and the Pope, as it can be seen later on Napoleon's grip over the church grew ever tighter.
Interestingly enough, the Organic Articles were carried out shortly after Napoleon promoted himself to First Consulate in The reason for the delay in passing this piece of legislation must be linked to Napoleon's growth in power. Prince Aage of Denmark. Corelli Barnett. The Rise and Fall of the Spanish Empire. Professor William S. Memoirs of Napoleon — Volume Memoirs of Count Lavalette. Comte Antoine-Marie Chamans de Lavalette.
Memoirs Of Napoleon Bonaparte, V Louis Antoine Fauvelet De Bourrienne. Life of Napoleon Bonaparte Complete. Sir Walter Scott. How to write a great review. The review must be at least 50 characters long. The title should be at least 4 characters long. Your display name should be at least 2 characters long. At Kobo, we try to ensure that published reviews do not contain rude or profane language, spoilers, or any of our reviewer's personal information.
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Or, get it for Kobo Super Points! Napoleon didn't keep a diary—that's what makes this book so interesting. The organization is Johnston's—but every word is Napoleon's. Skip this list. Ratings and Book Reviews 0 0 star ratings 0 reviews. Overall rating No ratings yet 0. How to write a great review Do Say what you liked best and least Describe the author's style Explain the rating you gave Don't Use rude and profane language Include any personal information Mention spoilers or the book's price Recap the plot.
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