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Napoleonic Era Discuss the many wars fought around the globe around the time of Napoleon. This forum is dedicated to the memory of Ben Weider.

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  #16  
Old 06 Oct 11, 20:12
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Until 1800 calling him General Bonaparte or just Bonaparte would be considered correct.

From 1800 to 1804, calling him First Consul Bonaparte, Bonaparte, or simply the First Consul would be technically correct.

After May 1804, referring to him as Napoleon would be correct, as he had assumed the imperial dignity.

Unfortunately too many authors continue to refer to him as merely 'Bonaparte' no matter where in his career as they either just don't like him or they refuse to acknowledge that he was Emperor of the French. I don't see anyone referring to other crowned heads of state in Europe as 'Hohenzollern' or 'Hapsburg', or 'Romanoff', for example. At least, Napoleon had won his crown and was a self-made man. The others were not.

Sincerely,
M
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Old 09 Oct 11, 03:23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveHollinsMBA View Post
it is unfortunate that most of the Anglo-Saxon world has no real understanding of the situation east of the Rhine. Perhaps you would tell us which institution limited Napoleon's ability to raise cash and troops like the Hungarian Diet did? Alexander did not have to deal with assemblies, but his power was limited by the Church and the Russian nobility, who were not keen on losing their peasant labour force to the army. These institutions diod also act as supports to the monarch, hence no Allied monarch was swept away by Austerlitz, Jena or Friedland.
Well, after all the whole revolutionary situation in France was also aboout individual rights and freedoms, as opposed to group-rights, privilege etc.

Napoleon freer to pick and chose between political systems than he was about the more profound aspects of how society operated.

I would think it kind of obvious why Napoleon couldn't rely on traditional power-structures within society, unlike his traditional monarchial adversaries. Not that he didn't use it when he could, the rapprochement with the Catholic church being perhaps the best example.

Last edited by Johan Banér; 09 Oct 11 at 03:28..
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Old 11 Oct 11, 19:37
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Napoleon as Head of State

Napoleon is usually saddled with pejorative designations, such as 'military dictator' either from those who have little or no understanding of either Napoleon, his government, and the period. One of the latest of his 'biographers' though the book was published about fifteen years ago to do this was Alan Schom. In short, those who defame Napoleon in this way either write out of bias or poor research, or both.

I have gone through a few books that tend to explain somewhat better what Napoleon as a head of state was like and how his government ran. Owen Connelly is one of the best historians to consult on this subject, as well as others such as Harold T. Parker and Louis Bergeron.

In short, Napoleon did not rule as a military dictator but as a civilian head of state. He had done the same in Egypt in 1798-1799 and found that he had a talent for it.

Along the same lines, Napoleonic France did not collapse economically. That is fairly laid out in different sections of the Historical Dictionary of Napoleonic France 1799-1815 by different authors.

At any rate, perhaps the quotations further on will help shed some light on the subject. And perhaps they will open the ball for further discussion which I do hope will not be cause for any ad hominem attacks and at least an attempt at scholarly discussion, or, if you will, debate-but civil debate.

‘You must nor forget that in ordinary affairs it is only magistrates who can issue arrest warrants against a citizen; and if by authority of my dictatorship you possess this right, know well that it is only in extremely rare cases of political intrigue or urgent necessity, and even so you must account to me immediately for any action outside the law. But it was never my intention that such a right could extend to your inferiors. Perhaps it is too much already that it should extend to you. Perhaps it is too much that I can even exercise it myself. In extraordinary times, some extraordinary powers are necessary, but if in trust I have given you a weapon for my defense, you alone must make use of it, and you will answer to me for the abuses that others make of it.’
-Napoleon to Savary, 20 November 1811

‘Is there nothing more impulsive and emotional than a French pen. Anyone I’ve criticized at me levee will write during the day that I’m a tyrant. The day before he had heaped me with praises, and the following day he will be ready to give his life for me. I often would have risked losing by best friends, had I the weakness to judge them on the gossip in their letters, whereas my enemies always know perfectly well how to present themselves so that they have nothing to fear from this inquisition.’
-Napoleon

‘The craft of emperor has its tools like all others.’
-Napoleon

‘As a result if the particular systems that he had instituted, Napoleon made himself, in some sense, present everywhere.’
-Mollien, Minister of the Treasury

‘Only this admirable organization in accounting, and above all the care that the Emperor himself took to balance his receipts and his expenses, explain how so many payments were made in all branches of government with such unvarying regularity and without new taxes, loans, or advances, and in the midst of perpetual wars.’
-Baron Fain

‘If Napoleon’s military glory reflects on his soldiers, if the brilliance of his government shows his statesmen to advantage, the success of is domestic economies does no less honor to the integrity of his businessmen.’
-Baron Fain

‘Just as among his aides-de-camp he had experienced generals, quick to understand a new maneuver from the first word and skilled in rushing in to execute it under enemy fire, on the civil side he needed statesmen just as skilled at seizing his thoughts, just as swift at going anywhere the administration had need of extra impetus.’
-Baron Fain

‘…in order to proceed with the general revision of all the laws of public administration, each branch offered professionals as experienced as they were learned; the Emperor liked technical advisors, but they had to be dragged from their ruts’

‘Napoleon worked constantly to bring together around him all these varieties of statesmen, and the Council of State was the title and the banner under which he kept them enlisted.’

‘A single thought motivated the Emperor in his choices: it was the need of surrounding himself with men who could be of use to him. Ignoring party prejudices, without going into past situations, opinions, or cliques which might have led to each one’s fame, he held only to recognizing the skill which could yet serve him with integrity. Almost all Napoleon’s councillors of state, independent of their political prominence, had a well-established, exceptional reputation of experience and knowledge without much work, they were all hard workers; and as one speaks easily of that which one knows well, they were almost all compelling orators when on their own turf.’

‘In this way the Emperor had been able to assemble the most diverse aptitudes at his disposal. Orators, publicists, apprentice ministers, jurists, bureaucrats, diplomats, men of the pen and the sword at once, economists and merchants; all the superior personal skills he wished to bring into play were available to him in his Council.’

But in Napoleon’s longer view, after having satisfied the present, it was necessary to think of the future. It was not enough that this selection of superior men form a reserve corps for the present administration, they must also collect a following. All the sciences of government could find skilled teachers there. By instituting auditors, Napoleon saw to it that these masters had pupils. ‘I am raising administrators for the future. They are formed in the workshop of rules and laws. There they penetrate our principles and maxims of public order; ever surrounded by good advice and good judges, whether under the eyes of the government or on important missions, they come to public office one by one with the maturity of experience and the certainty that only proven character and knowedge can give.’’

‘The auditors were thus the breeding ground that was to produce the secondary functionaries of the administration. They completed their education through experience of men and things. ‘One day, Napoleon would say, ‘they will take over all the posts in the Empire.’’
-Baron Fain and Las Cases

‘The Emperor, contrary to populat opinion, was so little tyrannical and even easy-going with his Council of State that more than once he remained alone in his opinion. Often he reintroduced a subject and even annulled a decision already made, because a member of the Council had come privately to offer him new reasons.’
-Las Cases

‘Far from being evil, Napoleon was naturally good. If he had been evil with so much power at his disposal, would he be reproached for two or three acts of violence or anger during a government that lasted fifteen years.’
-Baron Fain

‘Napoleon has been portrayed as a man-eater, a brutal and ruthless soldier. Nothing could be further from the truth. His bark was worse than his bite: the storm clouds dispersed in a hail, a hurricane of words to which he himself attached no importance the next moment. I have heard him say, following a fierce outburst against one of this relatives: ‘The poor wretch! He makes me say what I do not think and what I would never have meant to say.’ A quarter of an hour later, he would call back those he had abruptly dismissed and return to those he had offended: I have had this experience.’
-The former Archbishop of Malines

‘There are only two forces in the world: the sword and the spirit; by the spirit I mean the civil and religious institutions; in the long run the sword is always defeated by the spirit.’
-Napoleon 1808

‘Napoleon might have been expected to give the army a privileged position within France. Two examples from many show what actually happened. General Cervoni, commanding the 8th Division, ordered that ‘anyone found carrying arms will be imprisoned in the Fort St. Jean in Marseille;’ on 7 March 1807 Napoleon reproved him: ‘A general has no civil function unless specially invested with one ad hoc. When he has no mission, he cannot exercise any influence on the courts, on the municipality, or on the police. I consider your behavior madness.’ When cadets in the Metz artillery school rioted and insulted townspeople, Napoleon called them to order: ‘The Prussian army used to insult and ill-treat burghers, who were later delighted when it suffered defeat. That army, once crushed, disappeared and nothing replaced it, because it did not have the nation behind it. The French army is so excellent only because it is one with the nation.’ Constantly Napoleon drove home the point that a Frenchman is a citizen first and a soldier second, that every offense committed by a soldier in peacetime must first be referred to the civil authorities.’
-Vincent Cronin in his biography of Napoleon, 201-202

‘God made Bonaparte, and then rested.
-La Chaise
‘God should have rested a little earlier.’
-Narbonne, in response

On the institution of the Legion of Honor:
‘If we make a distinction between military and civil honors we shall be instituting two orders, whereas the nation will be one. If we award honors only to soldiers, that will be still worse, for then the nation will cease to exist.’
-Napoleon

‘Even fair-minded historians found their available sources full of booby traps. While he lived, enemy propaganda presented Napoleon as a monster who relished murder, treachery, theft, incest, blasphemy, and any other possible evil. The counterblasts of his supporters sometimes went to almost equal extremes in lauding him. The most misleading truth twisting, however, came from people who had served him to their profit, but-in hopes of making an equally profitable peace with the Bourbons who supplanted him after Waterloo-turned to defaming him. Prominent among them were former close associates of Napoleon such as Louis Antoine de Bourrienne, the Duchess of Abrantes, Claire de Remusat, and Marshal Auguste Marmont. The memoirs such people wrote, or had ghostwritten, were accepted as indispensable reference works by too many writers, though most of them are worthless and even the better ones contain much untrustworthy material. Only during the last few decades have English-language historians really managed an accurate recreation of Napoleon as an individual human being, as well as a ruler and stateman.’
-John Elting

‘Napoleon had reigned as a true emperor, lawgiver, and builder. His Code Napoleon, which modernized and systemized French law in clear language, is still the basis of French law and has had world-wide influence. He built no new palaces but left a might heritage of harbors, highways, bridges, drained swamps, and canals. He planted trees along his roads; set up a government office to protect France’s forests, lakes, and rivers; gave Paris better water and sewer systems, its first public fire department, an improved opera, and the modern system of street numbers. Wherever his rule ran, there was freedom of religion, basic human rights, better hospitals, orphanages, and public sanitation…He encouraged vast improvements in French agriculture and built up an enlarged system of public and private education. Just as important was his emphasis on competence and honesty in his officials. All careers were open to men of talent who would serve loyally regardless of family background or political orientation. Also, he balanced his budgets; even in 1814 France had practically no national debt. And he ruled as a civilian head of state, never as a military dictator.’
-John Elting.

Here are some books that I have found useful in taking a look at Napoleon’s civil rule as Emperor of the French and how he financed the empire and balanced his budgets:

-Historical Dictionary of Napoleon’s France, 1799-1815 by Owen Connelly

-Napoleon Bonaparte: An Intimate Biography by Vincent Cronin

-Swords Around A Throne: Napoleon’s Grande Armee (Chapter IV) by John R. Elting

-The Superstrategists by John R. Elting

-Napoleon’s Satellite Kingdoms by Owen Connelly

-France Under Napoleon by Louis Bergeron

-Napoleon: How He Did It by Baron Fain

In Napoleon’s Shadow by Louis-Joseph Marchand

-Napoleon’s Diplomatic Service by Edward Whitcomb

Sincerely,
M
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  #19  
Old 15 Oct 11, 05:38
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The 'Military Dictator' and a 'Collapsed Economy'

I have found the following volume very helpful in understanding the period especially with governmental, diplomatic, and financial/economic issues of the period:

Historical Dictionary of Napoleonic France 1799-1815 Edited by Owen Connelly

The book has been written by a plethora of authors under the editorial expertise of Napoleonic historian Owen Connelly. I would highly recommend this volume to anyone with an interest in the period as it is a great starting point in understanding who major characters were and in some of the less-studied or discussed topics such as economics and government. There are some interesting conclusions made in the volume especially on the topics of the French economy, the British economy, Napoleon’s government, and the character sketches of his fellow heads of state-Alexander I of Russia, Francis I of Austria, and Frederick William III of Prussia, all three of whom were absolute monarchs (with Alexander having the added ‘benefit’ of having at the very least coalesced in the murder of his father Paul I). It is also interesting to note that these three continental powers, who were more or less in financial trouble (just as France was) when the period began, could not have prosecuted repeated wars against the French Republic and Empire without generous subsidies from England. They would have failed economically if the English would have stayed out of the war or merely pursued expanding her overseas empire at the expense of France, Holland, and Spain.

Anyways, perhaps some of the following information will be helpful and germane to this discussion:

‘Napoleon as administrator may be termed the originator of modern centralized bureaucracy in France’

‘The features of Napoleon’s administration were those of a modern bureaucracy: hierarchical organization; stability of positions and of personnel; written, well-defined procedures of operation; promotion through the ranks based on seniority and merit; increasing professionalization of personnel and of code of conduct; and a system of training new personnel. The training, devised and instituted by Napoleon himself…adroitly combined theory…with practice…It was Napoleon’s most original contribution to the science of public administration and was decades ahead of its time.’
-Harold T. Parker

‘Napoleon considered [the law Codes] his greatest contribution. The cahiers of 1789 demanded uniform laws, and the French Revolutionaries had been interested in replacing the approximately four hundred codes used in France (roughly divided into Roman law in the south and common law in the north). But they had made little progress, except for preparing the way by sweeping away old legislation. Bonaparte’s desire for uniformity led him to push the project. He appointed a commission of four to prepare the civil code, and he presided over more than half the sessions devoted by the section of the Council of State to considering the commissions’ draft.’
‘The Civil Code [Code Napoleon]…promulgated in 1804, was more important than the Code of Civil Procedure (1806), the Commercial Code (1807), the Criminal Code of Criminal Procedure (1808), the Penal Code (1810), and the Rural Code (this last never went into effect). It has been adopted, or has influenced the codes of law, in all other European countries and those under European influence or control. The Code Napoleon’s…overriding importance…lies in the civil rights it enumerates and its guarantee of equality in the eyes of the law.’
-Robert B. Holtman

The Bank of France is the ‘central financial institution of France and is still in existence.’ It was established by law on 6 January 1800. ‘The war of 1805 put the bank in jeopardy because it lacked funds; its stock fell ten percent. Napoleon reorganized the bank in 1806…placing it under the supervision of the new minister of the treasury Francois Nicolas Mollien. The bank came back stronger than ever…In 1814 and 1815, Louis XVIII had little choice but to retain the Bank of France and it became a permanent institution.’-43

Napoleon’s main financial problem upon becoming head of state was to rebuild the financial structure and the finances of France. French finances were a mess-no taxes were being collected, bills were outstanding and not being paid, and the government was forced to borrow at 5 percent per month.

Three men were appointed by Napoleon to tackle the problem: Michel Guadin became minister of finances; Francois de Barbe-Marbois became minister of the treasury; and Nicolas Mollien was appointed as director of the sinking fund. Upon appointment ‘They…began to build fundamental financial structures.’

Direct taxes were collected, firmly but fairly; a system of indirect taxation was begun ‘which could be raised or lowered according to need. Expenses were rigorously monitored.’ A new, standard franc was started which held its value and did very well trading against other currency, sometimes doing better than the pound sterling. Napoleon’s goal was to have a balanced budget and not to have a large government debt. Most of the time, Napoleon’s budgets were either balanced or nearly so. What resulted from this management technique was ‘a vigorous, durable fiscal administration.’ Napoleon ‘tried to run a tight financial operation, and in the process he kept his own regime going and founded structures that endured.’
-Harold T. Parker

French economic development, based on a large number of factors, ‘shows a moderately positive balance sheet dominated, for both better and worse, by continuous military and economic war.’
-Reed Geiger

Alexander I: ‘…In 1801, he assented to the coup against his father, stipulating only that Paul’s life be spared (it was not). The Russian nobility rejoiced at his accession but was soon again disgruntled. The political program of Paul’s assassins is not entirely clear, but many prominent nobles wanted constitutional guarantees of their status and a predictable legal order. Alexander seemed amendable, but when he overcame his initial fear of the court political, he declined to surrender any of his power…After the war of 1812, though Alexander granted a constitution to the Poles, as he had earlier to the Finns, he gave no serious consideration to political reform in Russia.’-Hugh Ragsdale

Francis I: ‘…was indecisive, however, and incapable of translating his antirevolutionary way of thinking into a consistent foreign policy. He also failed to strengthen his own position through comprehensive internal reforms…For the rest of his reign, [Francis] supported Metternich’s conservative policies. In the interest of preserving the existing political and social order, he favored a European balance of power. Seeing the status quo threatened in domestic affairs, he advocated the preventive suppression of liberal and national movements. At home, he promoted an absolutist welfare state that did not hesitate to employ police state methods in order to keep the people in tutelage.’-Eckhardt Treichel
Frederick William I: ‘…During his first years, the king accomplished a number of partial reforms, especially the liberation of the peasants on the crown lands…In 1806-1807, with the support of his wife, Louise of Mecklenberg Strelitz [whom Napoleon referred to as ‘the only real man in Prussia’], he managed to save the monarchy despite the destruction of the army at Jena-Auerstadt, French occupation of Berlin, the monarchs’ flight to East Prussia, and the coercive Peace of Tilsit. He lent his authority to the efforts of the reformers, and, after 1810…to Hardenberg’s risky diplomatic balancing act between France and Russia, while mollifying Prussian patriots with exaggerated expectations. He helped guide the war of liberation without being affected by the pathos of the national German movement. His conservative inclinations and his emotional ties to the Russian czars motivated his early cooperation with Russia and compromise with Austria at the Congress of Vienna and his full cooperation in Clemens von Metternich’s policies after 1815. His domestic policy after 1815 was characterized by ambivalence. He rejected a uniform constitution for the state and persecuted dissidents, but he maintained the most essential reforms…’-Peter G. Thielen

George III: Contrary to popular opinion on the matter, the king still had considerable political power during this period. One of the reasons for a decline in the power of the Crown was George III’s debilitating illness and eventual insanity and the ‘quality’ of his immediate successors. Further, England was not a ‘shining light’ of democracy during this period either. The House of Lords still retained considerable power, much of the election system employed by the English was corrupt (one constituency of seven people had two representatives in parliament, another that no long existed because of erosion of the land into the sea, but was still on the books, was represented in parliament), and the corrupt practice of ‘pocket boroughs’ was rife.

England had political upheaval during the period, Pitt revoked habeas corpus, there was censorship of the press and a lively movement against the government that was treated as treason because of the Revolution in France. There was also recession/depression from time to time, and a large national debt, and England went off the gold standard. It’s an interesting period.

As an interesting after-thought, this extract from the section on the Spanish who were loyal to King Joseph’s regime in Spain, the Afrancesados, might be helpful:

‘…There were, however, thousands of people who at one time or another collaborated with the French. Their numbers varied with the fortunes of war and thus were limited in 1809, expanded greatly in 1810-1811, when the French fairly subdued Spain, and shrank again in 1812 and 1813, as Joseph lost his kingdom. Most were ordinary people, from those who did the work of Joseph’s ministry, government, and court to local officials-city and town mayors, tax collectors, police, judges-who continued their normal careers in French-controlled areas. Others were recruited and trained by the French, especially in Aragon, where Marshal Suchet eradicated guerilla activity and successfully organized Spanish administrative and judicial corps. One reason for Joseph’s poor performance as a military commander in 1813 was his reluctance to concentrate his forces, which meant evacuating whole provinces and leaving his erstwhile followers at the mercy of the guerrilleros (whose numbers multiplied as French defeats increased). When Joseph left Spain, at least 12,000 families also sought refuge in France. At that, the vast majority stayed behind to face the ‘purification’ procuedures of the cruel Ferdinand VII. Only the most wily escaped some punishment.’

‘Still, it is the ministers who appear the archetypical afrancesados to modern scholars. They had in common that they were old (the average age was 60; Cabarrus, Mazzaredo, and Romero died during Joseph’s reign). All were 18th century liberals who had been favored by the reforming Charles III and had their hopes for Spain dashed after a brief honeymoom by Charles IV. Some had been in prison or exile. All had genuine faith that they were serving Spain, which they believed would fare better under Joseph that it had under the degenerate Bourbons. (There were, of course, young afrancesados with the same belief. G. Lovett [author of Napoleon and the Birth of Modern Spain] celebrates Colonel Francisco Amoros, who, after Joseph’s fall, introduced calisthenics into France and amused himself by penning insulting letters to Ferdinad VII.) Beyond their common convictions, however, the ministers were quite various. Gonzalo O’Farrill, a Spaniard of remote Irish ancestry, soldier, diplomat, and ex-minister of war, accepted the portfolio of war from Joseph. Charming, efficient, and honest, he was one of the few officials whom the rebel Cortes continually tried to win over, to no avail. O’Farrill went into exile with Joseph in France in 1813. To justify their conduct, he and Azanza wrote a memoir, which is important or understanding Spanish attitudes in the period. Azanza had been viceroy of Mexico and had held several ministerial positions. He served Joseph as minister of the Indies, and then foreign minister, where he battled gamely against Napoleon’s schemes to annex part of Spain to France. Mazarredo, former general, former admiral, and late minister to Paris, was given the Ministry of Marine (Navy, Ports). Francisco (Francois) Cabarrus had been born a Frenchman (at Bayonne) and, incidentally, was the father of the notorious Madame Tallien. Drawn to Spain by economic opportunities, he had served Charles III and founded the Bank of San Carlos (in effect the central bank of Spain). He was Joseph’s finance minister, bent of freeing the economy (the progressive thing at the time), divesting the crown of monopolies, and the like. Urquijo had been first minister of Charles IV more than once; he had been frustrated in his attempts to reform Spanish land tenure and promote industry. His fulminations landed him in prison, from which he was released just before Joseph took the throne. His faith in the Bourbons had been destroyed. He served as Joseph’s minister secretary of state throughout the reign and followed the king into exile. Don Manuel Romero’s promising career in Bourbon service had been ruined by the perennial first minister, Manuel Godoy. As minister of the interior, he emerged as Joseph’s chief planner, producing blueprints for a new public school system, a departmental administrative system, and much else.’

‘In short, the leading afrancesados were among the most progressive and talented men in Spain. In retrospect, as evidenced by the testimony of the count de Toreno and other ex-rebels, it is unfortunate that the liberals of the Cadiz Cortes and those who served Joseph could not have worked together. The leaders, surely, were patriots on both sides. The principles elaborated by Joseph’s Constitution of Bayonne (1808) and the Cortes’s Constitution of 1812 differed largely in semantics. But the Cortes group helped bring down Joseph, making an end of his plans for liberating Spain. And when Ferdinand VII returned (1814) he rejected the constitution and views of the Cadiz liberals. Spain was doomed to more of absolutism-and revolution.’-10-13

Sincerely,
M
__________________
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Old 15 Oct 11, 09:30
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Unfortunately, quoting from older books really demonstrates the paucity of knowledge of the time and how much things have moved on with cheap air travel and the Internet. Indeed, it is perhaps only the events of recent years, which have enabled the average person to have a grasp of how Govt debt and banking problems can impact directly on the economy.

There was nothing new in the Bank of France - the Bank of England was established in 1688 for the same reason: arranging the state finances through loans, in particular in relation to the prosecution of war. The BoF's own establishment rather gives the lie to claims that N wanted peace in 1800. It proceeded in a series of bond issues and forced loans (especially from Genoa) to raise the money for the 1800 campaign. thereafter, it acted as a central bank, but went to the edge of bankruptcy due to the cost of the GA at Boulogne and the 1805 war. The proceeds from the Louisiana sale (a seizure by N from Spain under the promise that he would consult Spain before dealings in it) had gone on the GA and its invasion barges, while the Spanish subsidies under the 1803 Treaty had not been paid as the gold was stuck in the Americas. Ouvrard factored the Spanish debt (ie: paid it at a discount and then became entitled to the assets) and was subsequently jailed by N as a "speculator" (not much changes!). Victory at Austerlitz restored that all important "confidence" and the problem was over as the BoF could sell its bonds.

The 18th century had seen centralisation of state power at various rates and to some extent, France was just catching up. Dictatorships often do the same thing in shorter time, having knocked out the sources of opposition and indeed, many dictatorships do have something to be said for them. However, as Cronin notes, the standardisation of French law was already well in hand and codified law (or centralsied common law) already existed across the continent. Although Emperor Francis promulgated criminal and civil codes in 1803 and 1811 respectively, they were only a recodification of Joseph II's criminal code (which had abolished the death penalty) and the general groups of civil Patents issued by the 18th century monarchs.

As a dictator, Napoleon could speed the process up, but the actual measures are similar to what is underway elsewhere and there is no case of anyone "copying" him. N needed more efficient institutions to finance his wars. There is a terminology problem - all budgets must balance, but the question is how the spending is financed. In reality, N ran an ever larger deficit, which is why France virtually went bankrupt in both 1805 and 1811, the latter being down to a lack of indemnities and tribute money after the invasion of Spain and Tilsit. All military dictatorships, including Napoleon's, ultimately fail, because they are unable to acquire the resources to meet the huge military costs (garrisoning gets forgotten about) and the rising debt.

It is quite wrong to produce quotes to denmonstrate the nature of a the regime - although N admits to a dictatorship in that first note to Savary. All dictators are convinced that the people love them and that any opposition is down to traitors etc. Dictatorships often arise after periods of chaos, especially economic, and they are often popular, simply because they put an end to that chaos - Austria was quite happy to deal with Napoleon on that basis. However, anyone installing themselves in office for life in a plebiscite full of stuffed ballot boxes is clearly not interested in any accountability or semblance of democratic rule. Like all dictatorships, Napoleon swept away any organsied resistance - contra to a claim above, 40 papers existed in 1799, reduced to 4 by 1801 and soon to just Le Moniteur. Any dictatorship must control the flow of information to its people, (which is why there are fewer these days). There is no independent judiciary, the asemblies are packed with placemen and the real local power is the hands of Paris-appts Prefects. The economy is further damaged by this as it created a massive bureaucracy - which also still exists in France.
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Old 15 Oct 11, 20:23
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Well, still beats royal absolutism. Also had the advantage of being modern. No stuffing the genie back into the box after a decade and a half of Napoleon.
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Old 16 Oct 11, 07:29
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That's the bottom line-Napoleon was head and shoulders, as was his government, above that of his fellow heas of state, including that of England.

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M
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Old 16 Oct 11, 09:05
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That would of course explain why N's rule lasted 15 years and why few have sought to emulate it.

The Habsburg rulers probably displayed a far better example of managing conflicting group interests than many other multi-national groupings.
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Old 16 Oct 11, 19:50
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Napoleon's rule lasted only 15 years, unfortunately, because the other crowned heads couldn't allow him and his government to exist because he threatened their continuation in power.

Napoleon put through more reforms for the benefit of the French people, and in that context, for the people of the French empire, than the House of Hanover, the Romanoffs, the Hohenzollerns, and especially the Hapsburgs combined. The latter three were autocrats and absolute monarchs pure and simple, and the progressive rule of Napoleon threatened to upset the internal status quo of each of their empires.

Francis and Frederick William especially undoubtedly felt their crowns were a little shaky on their heads because of Napoleon. It is too bad that he didn't depose them and put someone more worthy in their place.

Napoleon's overthrow and how France was treated by the allies and by 'Louis the Unavoidable' definitely led to the Revolutions of 1830 and
1848. You cannot turn back the clock. The deposed heads of state that were brought back into Europe, such as Ferdinand VII in Spain resulted in reactionary government that drove many out of the respective countries as they didn't agree with reverting to royal privilege and feudalism. Francis, Alexander and Frederick William were reactionary monarchs, and the Bourbons were both degenerate and worthless.

The corruption in Britain has already been mentioned.

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M
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Old 16 Oct 11, 20:24
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The same old story! 'Yes but what about so and so,...' We are talking about Napoleon here, a despotic, tyrannical, military dictator come megalomaniac, who is in the same league as other military dictators; OK he may be lower than half way in said table but never the less, not a good one. Every time a discussion on Nappy comes up, we can be assured that the 'Nappyists' will try to deflect the issue on to others.

A straight answer would be nice: Was he, or wasn't he?

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Old 17 Oct 11, 06:11
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'We are talking about Napoleon here, a despotic, tyrannical, military dictator come megalomaniac, who is in the same league as other military dictators;'

Paul,

The answer has been given and supported with primary and reliable secondary source material. The above rant is not only inaccurate, it is the song you sing everytime you hear Napoleon's name. Napoleon was neither tyrant nor military dictator. However, if that is your opinion, why don't you back it up with sources? Just saying so does not make it true.

Further, comparing/contrasting Napoleon with his comtemporaries, and his government, is a valid historical inquiry tool. Maybe you should do a little research on the subject which would be much more helpful to everyone concerned instead of ranting on?

Sincerely,
M
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Old 17 Oct 11, 06:12
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The question ias asked the wrong way; Was N a dictator allows his apologists to get into the "good" (Hitler built the autobahns and is reputed to have suggested the design of the VW Beetle, Stalin industrialised Russia) and to make all sorts of factually incorrect claims about others top avoid the issue.

Better to phrase it as; What is a dictator? (see above) Does Napoleon fit the bill. Yes, he does.
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Old 17 Oct 11, 06:21
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Here we go with the usual Hitler/Napoleon comparisons. That is a signal that the logic has gone out of the discussion, and it is also a compliment to the former and a gross insult to the latter.

It's also an indicator that the discussion is over, and that now we're going into the realm of historical fallacies.

JC Herold, who is not a Napoleon admirer, penned an excellent comparison between the two which actually makes sense and shows Hitler for what he was-an evil maniac; and Napoleon for what he was-a lawgiver and reformer.

If anyone wants to prove or demonstrate that Napoleon was either a military dictator (which began the thread) or merely a dictator, then I would suggest that evidence should be shown. That hasn't been done yet. On the other hand, evidence has been shown that he was not. If you don't agree with the demonstrated evidence, then come up with something that disproves it. If not, then I would suggest that the argument is over unless someone has some new material to offer.

Again, merely saying that Napoleon was a military dictator does not prove that he was-it merely demonstrates the bias of the writer making the claim.

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M
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Old 17 Oct 11, 15:53
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If we are going to decide whether any ruler is a (military) dictator, we must establish an objective test to avoid subjective claims. That test must obviously place Hitler and Stalin into the dictator category.

Consequently, to say that a ruler was not a dictator, because he did things, which were beneficial to his nation fails simply because Hitler built the autobahns. It is however instructive to look at the underlying reasons for that road construction - the Romans (whether under a proto-democracy or Emperors) built rpoads for the same reason as Hitler and Napoleon did - primarily for the rapid movement of troops, which points to a militaristic society. That these roads brough economic benefits in terms of trade and employment is secondary - those are the reasons most democratic governments build them these days.

It is also a mistake to claim that because the ruler did something beneficial, this reflects on his regime. The 18th century and earlier in some cases had seen the centralisation of power in all the major states. Centralised law making goes back to Henry II in the 12th century in England, while Austria issued enlightened commercial and criminal codes under Joseph II. This sort of thing would have happened, whoever was in power in France - not least (as Cronin notes) as the law reform was already well underway as the Revolutionaries sought to centralise power. N lacked the knowledge to construct a code, but it bears his name. What is perhaps more illuminating again is the speed of its creation - dictatorships do have something going for them in that they can push change through as the potential sources of opposition have been muzzled, rather than facing the difficulties, which afflicted for example Joseph II.

Consequently, it is the nature of the regime, which determines whether it was a dictatorship. If a ruler comes to power illegitimately - often by coup d'etat, but also by outstaying an original mandate - then he is already in the frame, because his regime is based on force, both in its creation and in its continuation. As it quickly destroys the soucres of opposition - or perhaps like the French nobility and Church, they have already gone in the chaos, which gave room for the coup d'etat - press, popular assemblies and the judiciary, the regime faces no internal limits on its power and rules by decree (albeit often rubberstamped by a puppet assembly). There is certainly no opportunity for the people to change their mind!

The result is economic decline - the regime may well be popular on coming to power, but expenditure rises on both military and police apparatus. Combined with the accretion of wealth to the regime's supporters, the productive economy is starved and economic failure approaches - this is the first reason why most dictatorships end in war as the internal resources have been used up already. The second reason is that there is no institutional support to a dictatorship - no assembly, no nobility, no judiciary - so that when failure comes, there is nothing there to legitimise and support it beyond force, ie: the military. Dictatorships are built on a new group getting the goodies in return for direct loyalty to the dictator (or at most a small group), but that loyalty soon evaporates when the dictatorship cannot keep supplying the goodies. The marshals start to walk away when their Polish estates are overrun. Likewise, the state is run by people loyal to the regime - the prefects in N's case.

The European monarchies survived defeat and economic disaster, because the supporting institution (especially the nobles and the army) saw themselves as part of an overall structure, which would continue even on a change of monarch and so, their loyalty is to that structure, not an individual.

So, there is nothing in the Napoleonic regime, which suggests it is anything other than a dictatorship started by coup d'etat and where your position was down to loyaty to the top man. It is supported by the army, which needs to be maintained even in peacetime, and two secret polices, who finish up spying on each other! The regime sucks resources internally and then looks abroad to maintain its wealth, while destroying proiductive industry. When the system fails, the economic collapse soon follows in 1811 and military action is the last resort, which likewise fails.

It is just a sign of a lack of reading to suggest that the other Powers ganged up to get rid of a man they feared. As Lieven points out, the Russians were reluctant to cross the Niemen in 1813 and were quite happy for N to continue as a balance to UK power, which they feared in the long term. It was the same in Austria - Thugut, Charles and Metternich all advocated an accommodation with France, not least Thugut in 1800 when he thought that N had at least put a stop to all the chaos of the 1790s (as in said, dictatorships do have things going for them). The three of them considered France to be a short-term problem and Metternich was quite happy to allow N to stay in power as he followed Charles in seeing Russia as the long-term threat.

However, they were all unfamiliar with dictatorships - which were people given unlimited emergency powers in Ancient Rome - as there hadn't been any in recent history. They failed to grasp that N's regime was different from the European monarchoies in that it did not rest on steady, institutional support, but needed ever more resources and so, military power, to maintain itself and to shower goodies on its supporters.

That is why the regime was a dictatorship.
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Old 17 Oct 11, 19:31
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Source material?

You haven't supported your 'argument' with anything but opinion. Therefore, you 'analysis' is meaningless, historically speaking.

Further, you have not countered the argument presented to you with anything that contradicts the material presented to you except with your own opinion.

You have failed to conduct historical inquiry and have neglected assembling any facts supported by any evidence at all to support your illogically reached conclusion.

Want to try again?

Sincerely,
M
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