What were Napoleon's goals?


What happened before

In the French Revolution, France had gone from being a kingdom to being a republic. But from this a reign of terror had developed. This ended when the Board of Directors came to power, but the economic situation had by no means improved. The need was great and the republic was threatened by supporters of the monarchy as well as by new Jacobins.

Napoleon seizes power - the coup in 1799

On November 9, 1799, the 30-year-old General Napoleon Bonaparte, who had made a name for himself in the coalition wars, took power with a coup d'état. The coup ended both the rule of the Directory and the French Revolution. Napoleon's rule began.

The Consulate

The takeover of power succeeded with the help of a man on the board of directors, the Abbé Sièyes. The board of directors was dissolved. It was replaced by a three-person consulate headed by Napoleon. The man from Corsica was now "First Consul", two other consuls - one was the Abbé Sièyes - had an advisory role. In practice, however, Napoleon was now the sole ruler. By means of a referendum, Napoleon had the new constitution approved by the people. The approval was overwhelming - probably also because the longing for order and tranquility in the country was huge. Napoleon Bonaparte's military successes also flattered the self-confidence of the French.

The new consular constitution stipulated that a senate would elect the consuls from 80 members, as well as the members of the legislative assembly (called the tribunate) and the chief judges. The government provided the three consuls. You were elected for 10 years. The First Consul had privileges, e. B. he appointed the ministers alone. In 1802 Napoleon appointed himself "Consul for Life". The terms consul, senate or tribunate were based on those of the Roman Republic.

Coronation as emperor

The next step to power was Napoleon's coronation as emperor in 1804.

Inside, Napoleon tried to maintain peace and order. Inner peace should be created, the state stabilized after the long troubled times. Church life was put in order, the Catholic religion was recognized as the majority religion. The former church properties remained in the hands of the state, and the farmers were allowed to keep their land. This compensation is also called the Concordat of 1801.

The Civil Code

In 1804, Napoleon created the Civil Code, a uniform piece of legislation. It is also called the Code Napoléon after him. Until then, there had been no uniform law in France. The freedom of the individual and the protection of property were enshrined in the Code Civil, as was the equality of all - even if that only applied to men. In addition, the French emperor had the administration expanded, which was tightly organized and also centralized. The school system was now also controlled by the state. Everything was organized from Paris. To this day, the country has been structured centrally.

Foreign policy

Napoleon also celebrated successes in foreign policy. He waged war and went on campaign after campaign. In the next coalition wars, the Grande Nation achieved brilliant victories on land. The naval power of England, however, was not defeated. In the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805, Emperor Napoleon suffered a heavy defeat against the English fleet under Lord Nelson. Nevertheless, the French gradually occupied large parts of Europe, including Portugal, parts of Italy and northern Germany. With the Confederation of the Rhine, Napoleon secured the approval of some German princes. That meant the end of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation in 1806.

The continental barrier

Because England obviously could not be defeated militarily, i.e. in a war, Napoleon wanted to weaken his opponent economically. In 1806 he set up the Continental Barrier, an economic blockade for England. He closed all ports in France and the states dependent on France, ie the ports of the "continent", to the British. The British could no longer call at Europe with their ships, and English goods could no longer be sold on the mainland. The effect was not as hoped, however. Great Britain was looking for new sales markets in America, but France's economy suffered because an important market for the French was lost, and smuggling flourished.

The Russia campaign

When Russia left the continental blockade in 1811 because of its own economic difficulties, France was forced to take action against Russia itself. The Russian campaign in 1812 ended in disaster. Only a fraction of the French army eventually returned home. She was no longer a Grande Armée.

The Wars of Liberation

Prussia and Austria now also joined the alliance of his opponents. The wars of liberation began. In October 1813, the French army was defeated in the Battle of Leipzig. Napoleon's last German allies switched sides during the battle. With this the collapsing Rhine Confederation finally dissolved and the occupation of parts of Germany by the French ended.

Abdication and exile

In the spring of 1814, the coalition troops in France continued to advance. Finally, after a battle outside the city in March, they marched into Paris and forced Napoleon to abdicate. The Corsican went into exile in Elba. He tried again in March 1815 to regain power. He returned and established the "rule of the hundred days". In June 1815, however, he was finally defeated in the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon was banished to the small island of St. Helena. He died there in May 1821.

As consul and emperor, Napoleon brought almost all of Europe under his control. In more than sixty battles he was almost always victorious. His main opponent was England, which was always looking for new allies. Many countries became opponents of Napoleon. In the end, he couldn't compete with their superiority. Europe was reorganized at the Congress of Vienna.

Here you come to:

rise and fall

How big was Napoleon's empire?

Did Napoleon have enemies?

The decline