1804–1814 / 15
|Constitution||Senatus Consultum of May 18, 1804|
regional also Italian , Dutch , German , Catalan , Croatian , Slovenian
|Form of government||Empire|
Form of Government
- 1804 to 1814
Constitutional monarchy with a hereditary monarch at the head of the state
Parliamentary monarchy with a hereditary monarch at the head of the state
Head of State
- 1804 to 1814
Emperor of the French
Head of government
- 1805 to 1814
Jean-Jacques Régis de Cambacérès
Jean-Jacques Régis de Cambacérès
- In Europe 860,000 km²
- In Europe 46,000,000
Population density - 1812
21 inhabitants per km²
|currency||1 French Franc = 100 Centimes|
- November 6, 1804
- December 2, 1804
- March 1, 1815
comes into effect Coronation of Emperor Napoleon I. Napoleon I
- April 6, 1814
- June 18, 1815
Abdication of Emperor Napoleon I.
Battle of Waterloo
|National anthem||Le Chant du Départ (Song of Departure)|
The First Empire with satellite states at the time of its greatest expansion in Europe in 1812
The first colonial empire in 1812:
The French Empire and Colonies, Satellite States and Occupied Territories
First Empire ( French Premier Empire ) is a term used by historians for the period from 1804 to 1814 and 1815 in the history of France . The official name of the state was French Empire ( French Empire français ). During this time, the French state was a centralized constitutional monarchy in terms of constitutional law , but in practice it was ruled largely autocratically by Emperor Napoleon I.
The monarchy was created by the constitution of the First French Empire , completed by the Senate on May 18, 1804 , which was confirmed by a referendum in November. On December 2, 1804, Napoleon I was coronated as emperor in the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral , where he was proclaimed Emperor of the French (L'Empereur des Français) . This was preceded by the coup d'état of Napoleon's 18th Brumaire VIII in 1799.
The time of the empire was marked by military victories of the Grande Armée in the numerous coalition wars against Austria , Prussia , Russia , Portugal and their allied nations, the beginning industrialization and social reforms. Economically, the country turned to an early industrial nation and, after Great Britain, to the leading economic power in Europe at the beginning of the 19th century.
Through an aggressive foreign policy and the renewed entry into overseas imperialism around 1800, the French Empire became a world power on par with Great Britain. In Europe it ruled large parts of the continent at that time, with the French sphere of influence extending over around a third of the world with the conclusion of several peace treaties and alliances.
The territory of the empire reached its greatest extent with the annexation of Catalonia in 1812. The monarchy located in western , central , southern and southeastern Europe ( Illyrian provinces ) had an area of 860,000 km². In addition there were the colonies, which also belonged to the mother country, with which the territory of imperial France, excluding its satellite states , was around 2,500,000 km². About 60 million people lived on the national territory in 1812, with about 46 million in Europe and 14 million in the colonies. This made it the second largest state in Europe (after Russia) and the largest state in terms of population and a leading colonial power of the time. Of the 60 million inhabitants, the aristocracy retained its high social prestige despite the French Revolution and, under Napoleon, was able to assert its dominant role in the military, in diplomacy and in higher civil administration. The various reforms - such as that of the judiciary through the Civil Code or that of the administration - have shaped the state structures in France up to the present day.
The supremacy of the French Empire ended with the catastrophic defeat in the Russian campaign . In the wars of liberation that followed , France fought in a multi-front war against the other great powers and suffered great losses and the withdrawal of the Grande Armée from the occupied and annexed territories. On April 11, 1814, Napoleon abdicated as emperor and went to Elba . After secret arrangements, however, he surprisingly returned from Elba on March 1, 1815 and again took power in France ( Rule of the Hundred Days ). During this short period the constitution was significantly liberalized and a de facto parliamentary monarchy was introduced. With the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, however, Napoleon was overthrown and the empire dissolved for the second and last time.
Despite the military defeat, the first French Empire ushered in the slow liberalization of Europe and the end of courtly absolutism . With the Grande Armée, it had one of the largest armed forces in European history.
The nephew Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed himself Emperor of France in the coup d'état of December 2, 1851 and also tried to pursue a policy of expansion and hegemony. This so-called Second Empire ended just like the first in a lost war, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71.
Before the revolution, absolutism had ruled from the time of Louis XIV , in which all state authority emanated from the king. Both the citizens and farmers (third estate) as well as the nobility (second estate) and the clergy (first estate) had practically no political participation rights. The state was in great debt. King Louis XVI wanted to reduce this deficit through a tax increase, which is why he convened the Estates General (French les États generaux ) in May 1789 , which were the only body that could resolve a tax increase.
This meeting of the estates consisted of 600 members of the third estate and 300 members each from the nobility and clergy. The Estates General, however, demanded further political participation rights and the creation of a constitution. Therefore, the Constituent National Assembly (Konstituante) was constituted in June 1789 . After initial hesitation, the king allowed this to happen. However, a little later he dismissed the popular Finance Minister Jacques Necker . This led to riots in Paris, which eventually culminated in the storming of the Bastille . In September 1791, the constitution drawn up by the Constituent Assembly was adopted by the King, making France a constitutional monarchy . However, because of his attempt to flee to Varennes in the summer of 1791, the king was described as a traitor who made pacts with the enemies of the revolution, because the other states of Europe viewed the revolution with skepticism and made alliances against France. This led to France declaring war on Austria in the spring of 1792, which resulted in several coalition wars by 1815. In August 1792 the king, suspected of colluding with the opponents of France, was overthrown and executed on January 21, 1793. The de facto end of kingship was August 10, 1792, when Louis XVI. placed himself and his family under the protection of the National Legislature and was imprisoned in the Temple . The First Republic , newly proclaimed in September 1792, had to deal with both its external and its internal enemies, which got more and more out of hand and led to the Jacobin terror . In the summer of 1794, the Jacobin regime was overthrown and later the one year Board Constitution adopted. Despite the military successes achieved by Napoleon Bonaparte, among others, there was an economic decline - also due to corruption in the government. The system got into crisis through the formation of the Second Coalition . Subsequently, there was considerable political pressure from Jacobin members of the two chambers, which led to the resignation of four of the five directors in May and June. It was replaced by Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès and three Jacobin directors. For Sieyes, however, this was only a temporary solution; he needed the support of the military for a real reform of the constitution. After various negotiations with other military officers, he decided to go with Napoleon Bonaparte after the Egyptian expedition after an enthusiastic reception . On November 9th and 10th, 1799 came the coup d'état of 18th Brumaire VIII , which was justified with an impending uprising of the Jacobins.
According to the new constitution of December 25, 1799, the first consul was elected for ten years and had far-reaching powers. In addition to Napoléon as the first consul, Jean-Jacques Régis de Cambacérès and Charles-François Lebrun only had advisory functions. The first consul had the right to initiate legislation; he appointed the ministers and the other high-ranking state officials. The State Council, known as the Senate, also played a major role. The legislature, on the other hand, was relatively weak. It consisted of the tribunate with 100 members and the corps legislatif (legislative body) with 300 members. While the tribunate did not have the right to vote on legal advice, the legislative body was not authorized to debate, but could only vote. The members of both chambers were not elected, but appointed by the Senate. A referendum, the results of which were admittedly embellished, resulted in the citizens' approval of the new constitution. In the beginning there were still numerous critics of Napoleon in the tribunate, later these were replaced by compliant members. The rights of the tribunate itself were also increasingly limited. The domestic and foreign political successes made it possible for Bonaparte, based on a referendum, to be declared consul for life on August 2, 1802.
Imperial coronation of Napoleon I.
After Napoleon had been proposed to emperor by a referendum and the Senate, he crowned himself emperor on December 2, 1804 in the ceremony in the presence of Pius VII in the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral . While the acceptance of the imperial crown was intended to further increase his prestige internally, it was an attempt externally to legitimize his regime dynastically . At the same time, however, the imperial title signaled the claim to the future design of Europe. The title “Emperor of the French” meant that he ultimately saw himself as the emperor of a people and not of an empire. Napoleon saw himself as sovereign of the people and not, like all Roman emperors before, as an emperor crowned by God ( divine right ). On May 26, 1805, Napoleon was crowned King of the newly created Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy with the Iron Crown of the Lombards in Milan Cathedral .
Rise of the empire and reorganization of Europe
These coronations led to further conflicts in international relations. Tsar Alexander I entered into an alliance with Great Britain in April 1805. The aim was to bring France back to the borders of 1792. The joined Austria , Sweden and Naples on. Only Prussia did not take part in this third coalition . Conversely, the German states of Bavaria , Württemberg and Baden , which had been strengthened after the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss , entered the war on the side of Napoleon I. In accordance with his tried and tested tactics of separating the enemy armies from one another and defeating them one after the other, he initially turned against Austria. The first blow hit the Austrians with a lightning campaign in the battles of Elchingen and Ulm (September 25 - October 20, 1805), where General Karl Mack von Leiberich was forced to work with part of the army that was initially 70,000 strong. to surrender. The route to Vienna was thus open to the Grande Armée : after minor battles along the Danube, the French troops captured Vienna on November 13th without a fight .
Napoleon then lured the Russians and Austrians into the battle of Austerlitz , which he won on December 2, 1805, by cleverly pretending to be weak . Although the French fleet at Trafalgar was crushed by Nelson on October 21, 1805, Austerlitz meant the decision on the continent. On December 26, 1805, the Pressburg Peace Treaty was signed with Austria . The conditions were tough. The Habsburg Monarchy lost Tyrol and Vorarlberg to Bavaria and their last Italian possessions fell to the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy . In gratitude for their support, the electors of Bavaria and Württemberg were made kings.
In order to secure the success, Napoleon I pursued a targeted marriage policy with the younger members of his family and set siblings and followers as rulers of the dependent states. In 1806 Joseph became King of Naples and in 1808 King of Spain, Louis became King of Holland in 1806 . His sister Elisa became Princess of Lucca and Piombino in 1805 , Grand Duchess of Tuscany in 1809 , Pauline was temporarily Duchess of Parma and also Duchess of Guastalla . As wife of Joachim Murat, Caroline Bonaparte became Grand Duchess of Berg in 1806 and Queen of Naples in 1808 . Jérôme became king of the newly created Kingdom of Westphalia in 1807 . Napoleon's adopted daughter Stéphanie de Beauharnais married Hereditary Prince Karl of Baden in 1806 and became Grand Duchess of Baden in 1811 . Only Napoleon's brother Lucien , with whom he had fallen out, went largely empty-handed.
In Germany, the Rheinbund was founded on July 16, 1806, initially from 16 countries . Its members pledged to provide military support for France and to withdraw from the Holy Roman Empire . The protector of the Confederation - as a protector in the political sense of the word or as a protecting power - was Napoleon I. Thereupon Francis II laid down the imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire. With that, the Old Kingdom ceased to exist. Already in 1808 almost all German states except Austria and Prussia belonged to the Rhine Confederation. A “ Third Germany ” without Austria and Prussia developed, so to speak (the triad idea ). Extensive centralization of the state based on the French model - in the often still organized "patchwork" Germany - went with the introduction of principles of the French Revolution, such as equality, property rights and the like (general fundamental rights), but also with the reform of the agricultural, educational , Religion, economics, taxation and finance. In contrast to the comparable, more harmonious and internally practiced Prussian reforms that began in 1806 , the French were increasingly perceived by the population as rigorous and imposed from outside. The management system was often slow and was usually only partially adopted. It remained a torso , like the entire Napoleonic-Rhine-Bund reform work. The constant recruitment of new soldiers, high taxes, the disadvantages of the continental blockade, repression measures by the police and the military, as well as the heavy bureaucratic access to practically every citizen led to resentment. A reliable professional civil service was established through educational reform , and the actual bearer of the reforms was the higher civil service. Tax and financial reforms brought about a boom in trade and the strengthening of the commercial and financial bourgeoisie. Capital markets grew, as did the number of investors , who were now also given economic guarantees through the improved right to property. After Napoleon's abdication, these regions became centers of German early liberalism and early constitutionalism . After the Rhine Confederation project of 1806 to establish a confederation of states with joint constitutional organs failed due to the resistance of the larger member states, the Rhine Confederation remained essentially just a military alliance of German states with France. Napoleon's main goal was to align the state structures to stabilize French rule over Europe. Power politics and military considerations took precedence over liberal reform ideas. The historian Rainer Wohlfeil notes that Napoleon had no real concept for the redesign of Europe; rather, the Rhine Confederation policy, for example, was an expression of a “situation-dependent instinctive will to power”.
War against Prussia and Russia
Meanwhile, France's relations with Prussia had deteriorated. After the latter had concluded a secret alliance with Russia, Napoleon I was finally asked on August 26, 1806 to withdraw his troops behind the Rhine. The emperor viewed this as a declaration of war. In October 1806 he and his troops advanced from the Main through Thuringia to the Prussian capital Berlin . The Prussian army defeated in the battle of Jena and Auerstedt almost disbanded in the following weeks. As an imperial state domain, the Principality of Erfurt was directly subordinated to Napoleon I, while the surrounding Thuringian states joined the Confederation of the Rhine. The Grande Armée marched into Berlin.
Now the Russian army that marched into East Prussia supported the Prussian troops that had escaped there. During the campaign, the Napoleonic army showed its first clear boundaries. The country was too vast and the roads too poor for troops to move quickly. The supply of the army was inadequate and the Russians under General Levin August von Bennigsen fell back further and further without allowing themselves to be put into battle. Napoleon I spent the winter of 1806/1807 in Warsaw , where Polish patriots urged him to restore Poland. It was there that he began his long-term relationship with Countess Walewska , with whom he fathered a child.
It was not until February 8, 1807 that the battle of Prussian Eylau took place without a decision being made. On June 14, 1807, Napoleon I was able to beat Bennigsen decisively in the Battle of Friedland . On July 7th, France, Russia and Prussia signed the Treaty of Tilsit . The dictated peace conditions were catastrophic for Prussia. All areas west of the Elbe were lost and became the basis for the new Kingdom of Westphalia . The territories annexed by Prussia during the partitions of Poland in 1793 and 1795 were elevated to the Duchy of Warsaw . Overall, Prussia lost about half of its previous territory, had to pay high contributions and was only allowed to maintain an army to a limited extent.
Almost all of continental Europe was now under direct or indirect control of the French Empire. With the continental blockade , Bonaparte imposed a Europe-wide trade boycott against Great Britain, which was still hostile .
The years 1807 to 1812
In the years following the Peace of Tilsit, the emperor was at the height of his power. In the interior of his domain, despotic tendencies intensified during this time . Bonaparte tolerated criticism of his administration less and less. Because Foreign Minister Talleyrand reported objections to the expansion policy, he was dismissed in 1807. The censorship and harassment of the press were tightened. The theater decree of 1807 restricted the scope of the Parisian theaters. The personality cult around the emperor grew. The aristocratization continued to progress. In 1808 a new nobility was created by law. In addition, more and more old aristocrats of the ancien régime played a role at court . In large parts of the population, which was still shaped by the revolution's ideal of equality, this development was viewed critically.
In terms of foreign policy, the enforcement of the continental blockade against Great Britain was in the foreground. In Italy this was partly achieved by force. With the consent of the king, a French army marched through Spain to occupy Portugal . Napoleon I took advantage of the dispute over the throne between the Spanish King Charles IV and his son Ferdinand VII and in a political coup, supported by the French troops in the country, appointed his brother Joseph as King of Spain. Immediately thereafter, a general national uprising broke out in Spain which forced Joseph Bonaparte to flee Madrid. The Spaniards were supported by a British expeditionary force under Arthur Wellesley , who later became the Duke of Wellington. After the surrender of his general Junot , Napoleon had to intervene himself. After he tried to persuade the European powers to stand still at the Erfurt Prince Congress in October 1808, the Grande Armée moved into Spain. Initially quite successful in the fight against regular soldiers, the Grande Armée soon found itself embroiled in a bitter guerrilla war with the population. Napoleon I therefore returned to France at the beginning of 1809 without having achieved any noticeable success. The guerrilla war in Spain remained an unsolved problem that tied strong troops and was costly.
Austria, however, fueled the burgeoning nationalism and met with great approval in its own monarchy and in Germany. Shortly after their return, the Austrian army marched into Bavaria under Archduke Karl von Österreich-Teschen . In Tyrol, under the leadership of the innkeeper Andreas Hofer, the population was raised against the Bavarian occupation forces. In northern Germany, Ferdinand von Schill or the Black Crowd tried to offer military resistance. Above all intellectuals such as Joseph Görres , Johann Gottlieb Fichte , Ernst Moritz Arndt and others incited against the French rule with some nationalistic slogans. However, Napoleon was still strong enough militarily to retain Prussia and the Princes of the Rhine Confederation. Therefore, Austria was largely isolated from him on the continent. Napoleon I arrived in Donauwörth on April 16, 1809 . On May 21, 1809, his troops crossed the Danube southeast of Vienna. In the Battle of Aspern- Essling, the Austrians temporarily stopped the French advance. It was Napoleon's first defeat and, above all, an important psychological victory, as the Grande Armée lost its nimbus of apparent invincibility. In the following battle at Wagram he was able to quickly make up for this defeat and decisively beat the Austrians under Archduke Karl. In the Treaty of Schönbrunn , Austria then had to forego Dalmatia , Central Croatia , the Carniola , the coastal region , Salzburg and the Innviertel , which meant that it lost around half of its hereditary lands and was almost forced out of the old Roman-German imperial borders. It also had to take part in the anti-British continental blockade, reduce its standing army to 150,000 men and enter into a military alliance with France.
In the same year, Napoleon divorced Joséphine because their marriage remained childless. In the hope of recognition by the old dynasties and the consolidation of the alliance with Austria, he married Marie-Louise von Habsburg in 1810 , the eldest daughter of the Austrian Emperor Franz I. The marriage finally resulted in the desired heir to the throne , Napoleon II, born in 1811 emerged. Believing to have established a new dynasty, celebrations were arranged throughout the empire, some of which were to become part of a permanent Napoleonic festival calendar. The weakness of the newly established dynasty was made visible by the conspiracy of General Malet in 1812.
At the end of 1810, for economic reasons, Tsar Alexander I of Russia was no longer willing to take part in the continental blockade imposed on Great Britain by the Emperor of the French. Since Napoleon I saw this as the only weapon against Great Britain in the unsuccessful British-French colonial conflict, the position of Russia and other factors led to the fact that relations between the two sides cooled. Napoleon I prepared for war with Russia in 1811 and the first half of 1812. The Confederation of the Rhine were obliged to increase their contingents, and Austria and Prussia also felt compelled to provide troops. Only Sweden stayed aloof under the new Crown Prince and former French General Bernadotte and allied itself with Russia. In total, the Grande Armée is said to have been 600,000 strong at its deployment. Today, however, these numbers are considered exaggerated. In fact, there were no more than 500,000 men available for the invasion of Russia. Nevertheless, it was the largest army that had existed in Europe until then.
On 24 June 1812, the Grande Armée crossed under the leadership of Napoleon I, the Memel . His plan for the campaign in Russia, called the Patriotic War there , was to bring about a rapid, spectacular decisive battle, as in previous lightning campaigns , which would soon end the war and initiate peace negotiations. But the Russian troops under the leadership of Barclay de Tolly retreated into the vastness of the country. The previous method of supplying the army with the produce of the country did not work because the Russians pursued a scorched earth policy . In addition, poor logistics and unfavorable weather conditions meant that the troop strength was considerably reduced even without contact with the enemy. By August 17, 1812, when the troops reached Smolensk, they were only 160,000 strong. The Russians under Kutuzov stood for battle in front of Moscow . The Battle of Borodino Napoleon I. won, but it became the costliest conflict of the Napoleonic wars at all: about 45,000 dead or wounded on the Russian side and 28,000 on the French side were lost. It was not until World War I that there were even higher numbers of victims in a single day.
With this Pyrrhic victory , Napoleon I initially succeeded in taking Moscow without further struggle. After the invasion, the city was set on fire - presumably by the Russians themselves. The soldiers of the Grande Armée suffered from hunger, disease, snow and cold. The tsar refused to negotiate. On October 18, the emperor gave the order to march. A lack of supplies, illnesses and constant attacks by the Russian Cossacks hit the French troops hard. In the battle of the Berezina , Napoleon's grand army was finally crushed.
Only 18,000 Napoleonic soldiers crossed the Prussian border on the Memel in December 1812. The commander of the Prussian auxiliary corps, Yorck von Wartenburg , separated from the Grande Armée and concluded an armistice with the tsar ( Convention of Tauroggen ). Napoleon I had fled to Paris beforehand to raise a new army. Even during the loss-making retreat, the imperial court announced: "His Majesty the Emperor is in excellent health."
In Germany, the defeat of Napoleon I led to an upswing in the national movement. The pressure of public opinion led Bonaparte's previous allies to turn to the other side. King Friedrich Wilhelm III. concluded an alliance with Russia with the Treaty of Kalisch and called for a war of liberation . Initially, only a few German countries followed, and Austria initially stayed away from this alliance. Immediately after his return, Napoleon began to raise new soldiers. With a poorly trained army, which also lacked cavalry , Bonaparte marched to Germany. At first, Napoleon's military capabilities were shown again. He won on May 2, 1813 at Großgörschen and on 20/21. May at Bautzen . The reorganized Prussian army had turned into a serious enemy, inflicting heavy losses on the French. For this reason Napoleon I agreed to the Pläswitz armistice .
The opponents used this to draw Austria on their side. At a peace congress in Prague , Napoleon was given an ultimatum that included the dissolution of the Rhine Confederation, the abandonment of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and the restoration of Prussia within the borders of 1806. Since this would in fact have meant giving up the French supremacy in Europe, Napoleon I did not go into it. Thereupon Austria declared war on France. Prussia, Russia and Austria signed the Teplitz alliance agreements . Since Sweden also took part in the coalition, all states in Europe that were not directly or indirectly controlled by Napoleon I were now against him. In the following campaign, the allies played out their numerical superiority, avoided a decisive battle with the French main army as a result of the strategy of Trachenberg at first and inflicted considerable losses on the troops of the Napoleonic marshals. The freedom of movement of the main French army was increasingly restricted. The final defeat of the French came in 1813 in the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig . A few days earlier, Bavaria had passed over to Austria in the Treaty of Ried and declared war on France. In the days of Leipzig, the Princes of the Rhine Confederation changed sides with the exception of the kings of Saxony and Westphalia. Napoleon I withdrew behind the Rhine with the remains of his army.
On the Spanish front, Wellington advanced to the French border and France had to give up Catalonia , which was annexed in 1812 . In the interior of France, for the first time in a long time, public opposition to the regime arose. When the legislature demanded civil liberties, Napoleon I had them closed. The recruitment of new soldiers encountered considerable difficulties because of the diminishing support for the emperor, so that Napoleon I could only oppose the Allied forces with an outnumbered and poorly trained army. Nevertheless, in the face of the immediate threat, Napoleon's fate as a general was shown once again. Despite clearly inferior forces, it was possible through skillful and fast-paced maneuvering to defeat the numerically oppressive but separately marching enemy several times. These successes led him to reject another peace offer at the Châtillon congress . As a result, however, it was clear that he was no longer able to cope with the numerical superiority. Therefore, after the battle of Paris on March 31, 1814 , the Allied troops took the capital. As a result, the emperor lost all support from the army, politics and even close followers. On April 2, 1814, the Senate pronounced the emperor's removal from office. On April 6, he abdicated in favor of his son. The Allies did not agree with this. They demanded that the emperor abdicate unconditionally and offered to sign the contract of April 11, 1814. Napoleon signed this offer on April 12th, after he was said to have attempted suicide on the night of April 12th to 13th . The island of Elba was assigned to him as his residence and only the imperial title was left.
Reign of the Hundred Days and Waterloo
After his abdication, Napoleon went to the island of Elba in April 1814 . He was now the ruler of a principality with 10,000 inhabitants and an army of 1,000 men. Although he began extensive reform activities, which he, as the former ruler of Europe, could not fulfill. Through a network of agents he knew very well that after the Restoration under Louis XVIII France it was . there was widespread dissatisfaction. Encouraged by these reports, Napoleon returned to France on March 1, 1815. The soldiers who should have stopped him ran over to him. On March 19, 1815, King Ludwig fled the Tuileries. Although the constitution of the empire was partially liberalized, approval of the restored Napoleonic regime remained limited.
Startled by the events in France, Austria, Russia, Great Britain and Prussia then decided to intervene militarily at the Congress of Vienna . On March 25, they renewed their 1814 alliance.
Despite all the difficulties, Napoleon I managed to raise a well-equipped army of 125,000 experienced soldiers. He left a provisional government under Marshal Davout in Paris and marched against the Alliance. As usual, Napoleon I planned to beat the opponents one after the other.
At Charleroi he initially succeeded in driving a wedge between the British army under Wellington and the Prussian troops under Blücher . On June 16, he defeated the allies in the Battle of Quatre-Bras and the Battle of Ligny .
On June 18, 1815, Napoleon I attacked the Allied army in Wellington near the Belgian town of Waterloo . Wellington succeeded in essentially maintaining the favorable position against all French attacks. The Prussian troops under Marshal Blücher arrived on time and Napoleon I was defeated.
The end of this battle actually meant the end of the reign of the hundred days . On his return to Paris, Napoleon I resigned on June 22, 1815 after losing all support from parliament and former followers. Neither the hope of emigration to America nor of political asylum in Great Britain was fulfilled, instead he was banished to St. Helena in the South Atlantic by decision of the Allies and the empire was dissolved.
After the Congress of Vienna , France was able to keep its pre-Napoleonic territory (including Alsace and Lorraine ). The Restoration took place and the Kingdom of France was revived. It wasn't until 1852 with Napoleon III. again an emperor of the French ( Second Empire ).
Structures of the empire
The administrative structures, as they had developed during the revolutionary era and to which reforms came at the time of the consulate, were largely retained. Overall, there is a tendency towards centralization. The prefects introduced at the time of the consulate as heads of the départements were appointed by Napoleon himself. In the course of territorial expansion, the number of departments rose from 83 in 1790 to 130 in 1812. In addition to France itself, which stretched as far as the Rhine, it included 14 départements of the conquered provinces in Italy and the 14 départements of the annexed Netherlands and the German North Sea coasts as far as Lübeck.
Below the départements, the sub-prefects of the arrondissements and the mayors (Mairie) were appointed and no longer elected.
Territory and national borders
After the French Revolution, the territory of France expanded. In 1795 the Principality of Liège and the Austrian Netherlands were annexed. In 1798 the city of Mulhouse voted to join France. To 1802 were the Papal States and many parts of the Italian peninsula, 1803, the Bishopric of Basel , in 1809 the territory of the Illyrian Provinces , 1810, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the canton of Valais and 1812 Catalonia of France annexed. The territory on the European mainland had grown to 860,000 km² in 1812. This made France the second largest country in Europe and bordered on 14 neighboring states: Denmark in the north, the federal states of Mecklenburg-Schwerin , the Kingdom of Westphalia , the Grand Duchy of Berg , the Duchy of Nassau , the Grand Duchy of Hesse , the Grand Duchy of Baden and Switzerland and the Kingdom of Italy in the east the Kingdom of Naples in the south and Spain in the south-west. The Illyrian provinces, which formed a French exclave, bordered the Kingdom of Bavaria in the north, Austria in the east, and the Ottoman Empire in the southeast. The longest national borders existed with the Austrian Empire and Spain.
Insignia of the Empire
The French Empire had several official state symbols. The national anthem was Le Chant du Départ (The Song of Departure) and thus replaced today's anthem Marseillaise . The official motto was initially freedom, equality and fraternity for a short time , but was lost during the time of the empire. The French tricolor (blue, white, red) was used as the official flag . It contradicted the pattern of the flag of the Kingdom of France and became the model for the flag of Haiti . The coat of arms showed a golden eagle in the Roman style and was based on the coat of arms of the French consulate.
The constitution of the empire was closely linked to that of the consulate. The consul had extensive powers. Only he had the right to initiate legislation. The ministers, senior officials and members of the Council of State were appointed by him. The latter had to translate the government's plans into draft laws and supplement them with ordinances. In place of a restricted right to vote, there was once again universal suffrage for all male citizens aged 21 and over. The legislature was relatively weak. It consisted of the tribunate with 100 members and the corps legislatif (legislative body) with 300 members. While the tribunate did not have the right to vote on legal advice, the legislative body was not authorized to debate, but could only vote. Incidentally, the members of both chambers were not elected, but appointed by a body called the "Senate".
The decision to make Napoleon consul for life meant a further concentration of power. In addition to the existing rights, the right to conclude international treaties rested with the consul. The right to pardon was also at his discretion. He also now had the right to choose the members of the Senate. Napoleon was able to change the constitution on his own. He could dissolve the chambers of the legislature or collect court judgments at any time. In practice, parliament lost a lot of its importance. The Senate became a mere tool for enforcing Napoleon's policies.
In the new monarchical constitution it was not only determined that Napoleon should become the new emperor, but also inheritance within the Bonaparte family was determined. The changes brought about by the monarchical framework were most clearly visible to the outside world. The members of the imperial family were raised to the rank of prince. Six new ore offices (Grandes Dignités) and other high-ranking positions (Grands Officiers) were created.
The great dignitaries included the Grand électeur, responsible for the legislative and other high-ranking bodies, the Archichancelier d'Empire (Imperial Chancellor), responsible for the judiciary, the Archichancelier d'Etat (State Chancellor) for diplomacy, the Architrésonier (Arch-Treasurer ) for finance, the Konnetable for the army and the Grand Admiral for the fleet. The grand officiers primarily comprised the 18 division generals who were appointed Marshals of France in connection with Napoleon's coronation as emperor . The new constitution automatically made members of the Senate the full age princes of the imperial house and the great dignitaries of the empire.
According to the constitution, the Senate formed two commissions. One should look after the protection of the freedom of the press and the other with the protection of personal freedom. The panel was also the highest court on ministerial indictments. In theory, it even had a kind of veto right on legislative proposals. However, these rights played no role in constitutional practice.
While the Senate formed a kind of mansion, the tribunate and the legislative body also remained in place for the time being. The members of the corps legislatif were even given the right to speak to a limited extent. The tribunate was divided into three sections for justice, administration and finance. Both chambers met behind closed doors. Their importance remained insignificant, since most of the regulations were decided by senate consulates or by decrees of the emperor.
During the reign of the Hundred Days , Napoleon tried to make his dictatorship forget. As a supplement to the constitution of the empire, the Acte additionnel aux Constitutions de l'Empire de 1815 was issued. Drafted by Benjamin Constant , this was a much more liberal constitution than it was up to 1814 and the Charte constitutionnelle of the restored kingdom of 1814.
Power centers of the empire
Bureaucracy and administration
In the years 1805 to 1810 Napoleon appointed various grands dignitaires of the empire. Some titles (the ore offices ) were created after the example of the Holy Roman Empire and many positions were occupied by Napoleon with his relatives. Napoleon also awarded offices to his former co-officials from the time of the consulate , Lebrun and Cambacérès. The great dignitaries were entitled to the salutation "Imperial Highness" ( Son Altesse Impériale , SAI):
- Imperial Chancellor (Archichancelier d'Empire) : Jean-Jacques Régis de Cambacérès (from 1805)
- State Chancellor (Archichancelier d'État) : Eugène de Beauharnais (from 1805)
- Arch-Treasurer (Architrésorier) : Charles-François Lebrun (from 1805)
- Grand elector (Grand électeur) : Joseph Bonaparte (from 1805)
- Konnetabel (Connétable) : Louis Bonaparte (from 1805)
- Grand admiral (Grand amiral) : Joachim Murat (from 1805)
- Vice-large election, Mr (Vice-Grand électeur) : Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord (from 1807)
- Deputy Constable (Vice-Constable) : Louis-Alexandre Berthier (from 1807)
The normal ministerial offices were also retained. These were incompatible with one of the ore offices, which were paid a third of a million francs a year. Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord's hopes for an ore office were not fulfilled and he remained Foreign Minister. Joseph Fouché became Minister of Police and was one of the emperor's closest advisers.
In addition to the consulate, the reformed tax administration, the Banque de France and the franc as a stable currency were also taken over. The Legion of Honor came from the final phase of the consulate .
Monarchy and court
Napoleon had resided in the Tuileries as consul since 1800 . A court was already created at this time. With its strict rules of etiquette, this followed the models of the Ancien Régime . The revolutionary calendar was abolished with the coronation of Napoleon as emperor. During the Empire, court offices were created along the lines of the Ancien Régime. Napoleon's step-uncle Joseph Fesch became a grand almsman. There was also an Obersthofmarschall at the head. There were also other court offices. Talleyrand, for example, was court chamberlain. He was responsible for the festivities at court. The numerous other court offices were given with preference to members of the old noble families. As master of ceremonies, Louis-Philippe de Ségur played an important role. Ministers, councilors of state, high judges and archbishops received the title of count in a law of 1808. Other high officials up to the mayors of the big cities became barons. The members of the Legion of Honor received the knighthood. Numerous high military officials were appointed dukes or princes. So was Jean-de-Dieu Soult Duke of Dalmatia, Andre Massena Duke of Rivoli, Armand de Caulaincourt Duke of Vincenza or Bernadotte Prince of Pontecorvo. Large estates, especially in Poland, Germany and Italy, and high monetary payments were associated with the titles.
During the empire there was then a partial rehabilitation of the old nobility. Some of his relatives were given important court positions at court. Napoleon's aim was to merge the new bourgeois elite with the old nobility. In 1808 the old nobility titles were reintroduced. Associated with this were property and cash payments. But the new nobility no longer had privileges such as exemption from taxes and duties. The title of nobility was initially not hereditary either. However, inheritance could occur if majorate property was created. However, parts of the old nobility remained at a distance and the new nobility could hardly win approval from the people.
The central power element of the Napoleonic state was the army, since 1805 known as the "Grande Armée". Structurally, it largely corresponded to the army as it had developed during the revolution. The elite of the army was composed of Consular emerged impériale Guard .
The basis of the army was conscription . After that, all French between 20 and 25 years of age were obliged to serve in the military. In 1808 240,000 men, 275,000 in 1812 and 900,000 in 1813 were drafted into the military. Overall, however, the troop strength was below that during the time of the Directory. In 1809 only 75,000 men were called up. Not a few recruits tried to evade conscription, especially in the new departments.
In addition to the actual French army, Napoleon also demanded the provision of troops from the states that were dependent on him. The Kingdom of Italy alone had 218,000 men by 1814. The permanent contingent of the Rhine Confederation was initially 60,000 men and was later doubled to 120,000 men. Including the allies, Napoleon ordered 1.1 million men on the eve of the Russian campaign. Of the approximately 500,000 men in the immediate front line troops, only about half came from the Empire itself. At 125,000–140,000 men, the number of those who came from the old departments of France was even lower. The rest came from the new territories or from the allies.
The independence of the judiciary was restricted. The structure of the judiciary was adapted to the administrative units. The election of judges introduced during the revolution was abolished. These were now appointed by Napoleon.
The legal basis was the Code civil published in March 1804 . This laid down some of the achievements of the revolution and was also valid during the empire. This included equality before the law, freedom of contract and the separation of church and state. Property was specially protected. The code also protected the peasants from re-feudalization. Other codes of law followed during the Empire. This included a code of civil procedure, a penal code (1810), a code of criminal procedure and a commercial code.
In the course of time, the co-determination rights were further restricted. The tribunate was abolished by Napoleon in 1807. The members were transferred to the corps legislatif, whereby the minimum age was fixed at forty years. In future, only seeded men should be represented on political bodies. The State Council and Senate were, even more than before, mere tools for the implementation of the Emperor's goals. The judges' invalidity was restricted. The political opposition was persecuted. New state prisons were specially built for political prisoners. Over time, the persecution of political opponents increased. In 1811 there were 3,500 state criminals imprisoned. Many were imprisoned without trial.
The existing press censorship was tightened. The number of newspapers was limited and unpopular papers were banned. The official mouthpiece of the emperor and the state was the Moniteur . Its political articles were written by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A separate press office was later established. The state also influenced art and literature. The theater decree of 1807 was used for this purpose. Anne Louise Germaine de Staël had to leave France before the beginning of the Empire, and her book De l'Allemagne , published in 1810, was banned by the censors. François-René de Chateaubriand also had to leave the country. In the theater, only those pieces were usually allowed to be performed that took place far in the past and did not allow any political reference to the present. In Paris, the number of theaters was limited to just nine in 1807. In 1810 a special censorship authority was established.
The cult of personality increased in the controlled press. Various monuments to Napoleon, such as the Colonne Vendôme created in 1810 on the Place Vendôme, were also used . The triumphal arch was started in Napoleon's time, but was not completed until much later.
The education system was centralized. An authority called the “Imperial University” was responsible for all schools from elementary schools to universities. The public schools were founded and administered by her, and the private ones were supervised by her. A council elaborated the subject matter. Last but not least, a political catechism was disseminated . In it, the students were sworn to be loyal to the emperor on religious grounds. Those who turned against the emperor were threatened with eternal damnation.
The population of France and its colonies rose from around 28 million to over 60 million between 1789 and 1812. However, the proportion of the French in the total European population (excluding the Russian Empire) fell from 25% at the end of the ancien regime to 20% in 1815. The rapid population growth at the time of the empire not only resulted in the enlargement of the national territory, but also the high birth rate during the beginning industrialization . At that time, the Napoleonic Empire was a multi-ethnic state in which the French only made up about 55% of the population. While the pre-Napoleonic territory was predominantly populated by French , the Ems-Oriental départements were mostly Dutch and German . Mostly Italians lived in the southern areas and Slovenes , Croats and Serbs in the Illyrian provinces . Catalans and Spaniards lived in the south-west of the country .
As a result of this, a conflict-laden mood with numerous attempts at autonomy had arisen. The Grande Armée, for example, waged a bitter guerrilla war against local resistance fighters in Catalonia , which lasted until 1813. The national uprisings of the national minorities against the regime that began with Napoleon's defeat in the Russian campaign led Napoleon to give the minorities a special status. Italian, Dutch, German, Catalan, Croatian and Slovenian were made regional official languages.
State and Church
After the French Revolution not only pushed back the power and influence of the church, but also fought it, Napoleon tried to keep it under control by re-admission, equalization of faiths and affiliations.
The constituent national assembly initially excluded Jews from the declaration of human and civil rights of August 26, 1789 and discussed heatedly whether they should be naturalized or expelled, but in 1791 it almost unanimously granted all Jews of France the status of citizens ( citoyen ) if they renounced their status as a community in return. This gave Jews civil rights for the first time in a European country. They lost their previous partial autonomy and had to do military service.
In 1804 the Civil Code came into force. It not only became the “true” constitution of France, but also the most widespread legal code in Europe and, moreover, the first on the continent that did not have its own Jewish regulation. All citizens should be equal before the law. In 1806 Emperor Franz II laid down the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. With that, the Old Kingdom ceased to exist. The secularization was the beginning of a slow evolution of religious neutrality in the German states and for the separation of throne and altar.
With the introduction of consistories in 1808, Napoléon underpinned the administrative equality of around 1,000,000 French Jews (as of 1812) and enforced it in the conquered areas on the left bank of the Rhine , but met resistance on the right bank of the Rhine. Nevertheless, from 1800 to 1812 almost all German states followed the demands of Christian Konrad Wilhelm von Dohm, which had now been raised again . The reforms introduced by Napoleon were initially welcomed by a large part of the Jewish community leaders, in the hope that in this way Judaism in France would receive a status similar to that of the Catholic Church in the Concordat of 1801 and the Protestants in the "organic articles" of 1802 would. Napoleon himself endeavored to have a means of controlling the Jewish community while at the same time integrating the Jews as citizens into his French society. The statutes of the consistory came into force on March 17, 1808 by imperial decree. From the Jewish side, the decree was soon referred to as "Décret infame" (literally: the shameful decree), insofar as it reintroduced discriminatory regulations for Jews and Napoleonic France thus took a step backwards compared to earlier emancipating laws.
Despite the fundamental separation of state and church, a certain balance was reached in 1801 with the concordat between the consulate and Pope Pius VII . Although Catholicism was no longer recognized as the state religion, it was recognized as the religion of the majority of the people. Napoleon retained the right to appoint a bishop, while the Pope had the right of ordination.
His treatment of Jews, however, was classified as preferential treatment by the Russian Orthodox Church and he himself was classified as "Antichrist and enemy of God".
Fundamental demographic changes occurred during the period of the German Empire. A sign of this was the enormous growth in the population. Due to the hesitant beginning of industrialization in France , the French-speaking population grew from 28 million (1800) to around 30 million (1815). But the population in the annexed areas also grew due to the relatively high standard of living. Through the incorporation of various large cities such as Brussels with 72,280 inhabitants, Amsterdam with 220,000 inhabitants, Hamburg with 150,000 inhabitants, Aachen , Geneva , Turin or Rome , internal migration emerged in which predominantly French people moved from rural areas to these cities.
During the French Revolution, France's economic output compared to the Ancien Régime had fallen massively. In 1800 it reached only 60 percent of the level of 1789. In the following ten years, most of which fell during the time of the Empire, a strong economic revival set in. However, unlike in England, there was no breakthrough of an industrial revolution . Strong investments were made in cotton processing in particular. There has already been some mechanization of production there. During this time, the economic focus shifted away from the port cities, which were particularly badly affected by the sea blockades, to areas around Paris, Strasbourg or Lyon. In an inner-French comparison, economic development in the south was weaker than in the north. Overall, development in the agricultural sector stagnated, while overseas trade was severely curtailed as a result of the wars.
The continental blockade imposed by Napoleon since 1806 had a massive impact on the economy of the empire and the dependent states. Some branches of the economy, such as textile production, benefited from the exclusion of English competition. But the trading cities in particular felt a sharp drop in trade. The partly export-oriented agriculture also suffered from the failure of the English market. Many imported goods became scarce. These included the colonial goods obtained from overseas , but also the cotton required for the textile industry. In 1810, a licensing system was therefore temporarily introduced. It allowed French shipowners to export goods if necessary colonial goods and other imported goods of the same value were imported. The states dependent on France continued to be prohibited from even this limited trade. Incidentally, this measure was not sufficient to compensate for the negative effects of the ban. In 1810 there was a serious financial crisis. It led to the closure of many factories. A year later there were severe crop failures. As a result, the price of bread rose sharply. In Paris, prices were kept artificially low. In other cities, where this was not the case, there were inflation riots. Taken as a whole, support for the system from the lower strata of the population remained largely stable. However, the economic bourgeoisie and parts of the new nobility, both of which had so far benefited most from Napoleon's policies, turned away.
Although Napoleon with his continental system aimed primarily at political and economic supremacy in Europe, the empire was also to achieve a strong position for the continent in terms of the supply of overseas products. This also required appropriate colonial ownership. After the Peace of Amiens (1802), the French colonial empire was significantly larger than it was in 1789. The country got back the colonies occupied by the British. Louisiana received it from Spain in 1801 . François-Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture occupied the Spanish part of the island of Hispaniola . However, Napoleon's attempt to reintroduce slavery led to an uprising and the loss of the entire island. Napoleon's plan to found a large colonial empire in America also failed. Louisiana was therefore sold to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 . Other possessions were lost in the following years. After the rapprochement with the Ottoman Empire ( Franco-Ottoman Alliance ) and Persia ( Franco-Persian Alliance ), trade with the Orient was more successful . With the annexation of the Kingdom of Holland in 1810, which until then had been ruled by his brother Louis Bonaparte , the French colonial empire reached a climax under Napoleon. Numerous colonies such as the Dutch East Indies, parts of Ceylon and the Cape Colony came under French rule, although some colonies had already been occupied by Great Britain. According to Napoleon's view, the colonies belonged to metropolitan France and allowed the national territory to grow to around 2,500,000 km².
Changes in the French colonies at the time of Napoleon:
- Egypt (1798 to 1801, see Egyptian Expedition )
- Basra (annexed in 1810, lost to the Ottoman Empire in 1815)
- Parts of Benin (annexed around 1805)
- Ceylon (annexed in 1810, lost to Great Britain in 1815)
- France Équinoxiale (1801 to 1802/1809, now French Guiana )
- French Antilles (now the overseas department)
- Parts of Gabon (annexed around 1805, later enlarged)
- Louisiana (sold by Spain in 1800, sold to the United States in 1803)
- Parts of the Coromandel Coast (annexed in 1810, lost to Great Britain in 1815)
- Maldives (annexed in 1810, lost to Great Britain in 1814)
- Mauritius (parts of Great Britain occupied in 1810, lost to Great Britain in 1812)
- Parts of New Caledonia , (today the overseas department)
- Dutch Guiana (annexed and united with French Guiana in 1810, split between Great Britain and the Netherlands in 1815)
- Dutch East Indies (annexed in 1810, lost to the Netherlands in 1814)
- Cape Colony (annexed in 1810, parts were occupied by Great Britain in 1803 and the colony was finally lost to Great Britain in 1814)
- Saint-Domingue (occupied from 1804 to 1812, western part became de facto independent as Haiti in 1804 , eastern part was Spanish from 1812)
- Saint-Pierre and Miquelon (awarded to France by Great Britain in 1814, surrendered in 1816)
- Senegal (annexed around 1800, greatly enlarged until 1812)
- St. Lucia (lost to Great Britain in 1814)
- Seychelles (lost to Great Britain in 1811)
- Tobago (lost to Great Britain in 1814)
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