Did Napoleon Bonaparte adopt Islam

From the Directory to the Napoleonic era

Table of Contents

I. Biographical information on the birth of Napoleon up to promotion under the Directory

II. The political situation in France under the Directory

III. The French Revolution and the Wars in Europe

IV. Napoleon's coup against the Directory

V. The new order - the consulate

VI. The establishment of the Napoleonic Empire in 1804

VII. Napoleon's idea of ​​the empire and the fall of the Holy Roman Empire

I. Biographical information on Napoleon Bonaparte from his birth to his political advancement under the Directory

Born on August 15, 1769 in the Corsican city of Ajaccio, the future Emperor of the French, initially born as Napoleone Buonaparte, influenced the fate of France and all of Europe like no other of his time. The son of an influential Corsican nobleman, he unexpectedly became French a year after his birth through a treaty between the French crown and the city-republic of Genoa, which Corsica ceded to France. Napoleon, as he later called himself in French, entered the Brienne Military School in 1779 and completed his training as an artilleryman at the Paris Military School in 1785.

The Bonaparte family was quite extensive, which was convenient for Napoleon after his rise to emperor and temporary ruler of the European continent, as he often appointed members of his family as regents in the dependent and subject areas. The importance of the family cohesion of Bonapartes as a refuge for Napoleon's world of ideas and the empire was once again important under a nephew of the great Napoleon, Louis Napoleon, in the second half of the 19th century.

Napoleon's military rise took place quickly due to the special circumstances of the French Revolution and due to his military-strategic talent, which was also noticed by his superiors. An important event in his unprecedented career was to be the retaking of the city of Toulon, an important military base, which had been attacked by the French Republic in 1793. With this he earned his first major military merits and advanced to become a folk hero. At the age of just 24, he rose to become brigadier general. With the fall of Robespierre, Napoleon, who was a supporter of the Robespierre “mountain party”, fell briefly out of favor with the new government, the Directory. He was imprisoned for 2 months in 1794 and discharged from the army in 1795. The "Mountain Party", a radical faction within the Jacobins, stood up for the rights of the poor and petty-bourgeois sections of the population. It was suppressed and gradually marginalized with the execution of Robespierre and the seizure of power by the bourgeois capitalist Thermidorians.

The so-called Directory, made up of bourgeois-liberal forces, was formed, which formed the French government from October 1795 to November 1799. This new government made use of Napoleon's military talents again as early as October 1795 by making him commander in chief of the troops to put down a royalist uprising in Paris. Thus the revolution went more and more into its phase of consolidation of the economic and political power achieved for the liberal bourgeoisie over the political left and the royalist right. Napoleon proved to be a successful handyman of the new power elite, but four years later he was to overthrow them himself. The Directory appointed him commander of the "Army of the Interior".

The Corsican also hone his social advancement privately by marrying one of the leading and most sought-after ladies of the Parisian salons, Joséphine de Beauharnais. This gave him access to influential people in the country's elite at the informal level.

II. The political situation in France under the Directory

Maximilien de Robespierre and his revolutionary government overthrew two opposing situations, terror and war, because of his persistence. The “plot” of Thermidor (so-called hot month, mid-July-mid-August, of the revolutionary calendar) derives its strength from the enormous weariness of the public and unites all dissatisfied members of the convention and the committees: the former terrorist proconsuls who feel threatened; the Plaine, the level that is rediscovering its strength (the deputies of the moderate groups who sit in the lower ranks of the National Convention); the old rivals of the Security Committee; Friends of Héberts, Billaud and Collot on the Welfare Committee; as well as the rights, moderates around Carnot. There are also historians who believed they saw signs of a split within the Robespierre group, between Saint-Just and Robespierre. The political turning point of the 9th Thermidor (July 27, 1794) was a result of public pressure, the vengeance of the Convention and the logic of victory. The Thermidorians showed a third way of the revolution - after the program of Dantons, freedom through peace and the program Robespierre, freedom through terror, follows a program which comes very close to the ideas of the Girondists - freedom through victory and conquest. In 1795, the Thermidorians gave France a new constitution, which allowed the bourgeois public to speak again, but immediately acted contrary to their spirit and wording with the two-thirds decree. This meant that two-thirds of the seats in the new Council of Five Hundred and Council of Elders were to be filled by convention members. Thus the Thermidorians forcibly occupied the two legislative chambers and elect five directors who were also involved in the death sentence of Louis XVI. have contributed. The directors rule lackluster but with some energy to stabilize the assets of the bourgeois-liberal class. They pursue this concern with several coups, which, however, has only moderate success. Above all, the Directory can rely on the victorious armies that have replaced popular pressure.

The time of the Directory (1794-1799)

Formally, the board of directors consisted of five equal members, who in turn served as heads of state for three months. Every year one member of the board of directors was exchanged for a new one. These Thermidorians, who become the perpétuels, the “perpetuals” of the Directory and whose symbolic figure is Paul Barras, have been the subject of research less often than their predecessors. So far there is no thorough general history of the director's time, except for the summaries of Lefebvre, who presented this topic quite clearly in a lecture. Thanks to Sorel and Guyot, the history of diplomacy is better known than internal French politics of that time, even in pure political history, the director's time is neglected. This has to do with the unflattering circumstances in which they came to power, which was a military-backed coup of the property classes. During their five-year rule, the directors developed a rapidly spreading system of corruption, which differed dramatically in its image from the glorified and often glorified heroes of the first phase of the revolution and the successor to the directors, the brilliant figure of Napoleon.

The French historian Francois Furet assesses the history of the Directory as follows. The political left despises the Directory and the class that supports it because of their capitalist and pleasure-seeking lifestyle, while the right invokes the Bonapartist myth of the elimination of disorder and the savior in the form of Napoleon. Furet sees in the Directory a bourgeois government that embodied the revolution more faithfully than its predecessors and successors and already reveals the origins of modern France. So what happened Parliamentarians responsible for the execution of Louis XVI. Voted generals who had risen from the lower class, former officials of the revolutionary government and business people who have unrestrainedly enriched themselves, bear the bourgeoisie who came to political power. This has not changed to this day. The overthrow from Terreur to the dictatorship of the haves did not result in the rule of virtue that Robespierre longed for, but a ruling class. She saw herself as the defender of a threatened revolution.

III. The French Revolution and the Wars in Europe

The expansion of the revolution and its ideas into other European countries, which began in the early 90s of the 18th century, was for 15 years as a measure supported by the people as well as a constantly needed self-assurance and identity-creating moment for the respective French government Roger that. The defense of the revolution internally and externally, against hostile powers such as Austria or Prussia (at the beginning of the revolution incited by nobles who fled into exile) is linked to the idea of ​​revolution as a mission to liberate other peoples of Europe from the yoke of feudalism or absolutism , led to the levée en masse (an uprising and a standing up of large parts of the people for the ideas of the revolution), which after its ebb was later revived by Napoleon with his charisma as a leader and ingenious battle leader and European visionary.

Those phases of French expansion in Europe have a complex history that is inextricably linked to internal instability. After the Coup d'État of the 9th Thermidor, Robespierre's successors initially inherited the powerful welfare committee. The Directory took advantage of the conquests in Belgium (more precisely this area was called “Austrian Netherlands” at the time) and Holland (or “Republic of the United Netherlands”) to enter into negotiations with Prussia, which would like to have a free hand in Poland and with a possible annexation of the left bank of the Rhine (Prussia acquired extensive areas in Poland during the 2nd and 3rd division of Poland in an alliance with Austria and Russia). Holland is annexed as a satellite state to France, which becomes the allied "Batavian Republic".

England and Austria remain the main opponents, although the French recognize the considerable difficulty of a victory over England and therefore turn to Austria. France prepares the campaign of 1796 against Austria. Carnot's famous plan called for the armies in the Holy Roman Empire to be used preferentially against Austria, but this fails when Napoleon is appointed commander of the army in Italy. What war aims did the Directory pursue before they were redefined by the victorious and popular hero Bonaparte? Some historians support the theory of natural boundaries, i.e. the Rhine in the east and the Scheldt in the north. You see this as the aim of the Directorate's military actions. This impression was reinforced by the separate peace concluded with Prussia in Basel in 1795, as a result of which Prussia left the first coalition against France. The consequence was the loss of the holdings of the Holy Roman Empire on the left bank of the Rhine, which resulted in a further weakening of the increasingly fragile complex state structure of the Old Empire. The second major power alongside Prussia in the German states, Austria, preferred to stay out of it and to direct its interests more towards Eastern and Southeastern Europe. The end of the empire was approaching, as the head of this state, the head of Casa Austria, Franz II (1792-1806), showed less and less interest in the defense of imperial territories. More on this in another chapter.

The union of The Hague with the Batavian Republic indicates a policy other than a pure natural border policy. The Directory had even more ambitious plans, namely those of the "sister republics", which were arranged like a protective wall around France. Protagonists such as Revellière-Lépeaux or Sieyès, who had remained loyal to the Girondist idea of ​​the revolutionary crusade, more or less unequivocally supported this policy. On the other hand, Carnot, who was already a moderate at the time of the Welfare Committee, sought a compromise peace as a precondition for the internal “reunification” of France. In Sener's view, the conquests should serve as exchange objects for an enlarged France, which of course included Nice and Savoy and the territory between Sambre and Meuse necessary for national defense. Several directions of revolutionary foreign policy became more clearly recognizable than in the previous period. In this mosaic of different endeavors, Bonaparte was also to insert his exaggerated Italian policy, for which the Directory vouched. The relationship between the executive in Paris and General Bonaparte can be reduced to the simple denominator of the Executive Board's retention of power through its victories in Italy and the continued financial and political support of the Corsican and his desire for expansion.

As already outlined, the rule of the Directory was not a good star from the start (see the massacre of the army in Paris as a result of the coup). On March 31, 1795, the residents of the Parisian working-class suburb of Saint-Antoine turned to the convention with a petition: “Since the 9th Thermidor, we've been getting worse and worse. The 9th Thermidor was supposed to save the people, and the people are the victims of all the machinations. We were promised that once the maximum prices were lifted, everything would be in abundance and the famine is worse than ever.

The incarcerations continue. The people want to be free at last; it knows that when it is suppressed, according to the Declaration of Human Rights, insurrection is one of its duties. Why is Paris without a magistrate? Why were the people's societies closed? Where are our crops? Why are all the fanatics and royalist youth allowed to ... gather? If justice is not to be an empty word, we demand that those arrested be punished or released. We demand that all means are used to remedy the terrible misery of the people, to give them back their rights, to quickly bring the democratic constitution of 1793 into force. We stand ready to defend the republic and freedom. ”(From A. Aulard, Paris pendant la réaction thermidorienne et sous le Directoire, Paris 1898, volume 1, p. 622).

Due to the rapidly deteriorating economic and social situation, the radical left revolutionary Francois N. Babeuf calls for social justice and a “republic of equals”. Babeuf is also seen by some historians as a forerunner of communism, but the sources are poor, as his opponents destroyed many sources that could have provided more information about Babeuf's ideas and goals. Before Babeuf and his supporters could riot, however, the directors ended the "conspiracy among equals" by arresting Babeuf and his supporters. Babeuf was eventually murdered and his tracks largely obliterated for fear of the board of directors of a radical overthrow.

In 1797, the French troops under Bonaparte won one brilliant victory after another. Napoleon was now no longer one general among others, but the general par excellence - the general of the Directory, who sought to bask in his fame and also tried to distract a little from the tense domestic situation. True to the motto of Roman antiquity "panem et circenses", the Directory was able to extend its rule a little with Bonaparte's victories. However, the “conqueror of Italy” did not remain idle on the diplomatic-political stage either. This becomes clear from an excerpt from a conversation between Napoleon and Miot de Melito, the French ambassador in Tuscany, during the peace negotiations with Austria on June 1, 1797:

“Do you think that I will win victories in Italy in order to increase the prestige ... of the board of directors ...? Do you think I want to found a republic? ... What you (the French) need is fame, the satisfaction of their vanity, but they don't understand anything about freedom. Look at the army! ... For the French soldiers, I am everything. ... The nation needs a leader ... but no theories about government ... I am not interested in peace. ... When peace is made, when I am no longer at the head of this devoted army, I have to renounce this power ... ... I just want to leave Italy to play a role in France, somewhat similar to the one I play here ... "(After Miot de Melito, Mémoires, Paris 1858, volume 1, p. 163)

That’s how it should turn out. Napoleon hurried on from victory to victory and dictated peace after an advance from northern Italy on Vienna in Campo Formio Austria. Austria was forced to recognize the Rhine border, ceded the Austrian Netherlands (known as Belgium) to France, received Venice in return and agreed to the establishment of two northern Italian republics (Ligurian and Cisalpine Republic).In the meantime, the board of directors got into a vortex of internal rivalries, with three directors, with the support of Bonaparte, eliminating their two other colleagues, who rely on the monarchist groups after the electoral successes of the royalists, by means of a coup. Napoleon has thus become an undisputed factor in French domestic policy, where he was already determining foreign policy as a victorious general. The rest of the Directory is now completely dependent on it.

In 1798, the Board of Directors declared the elections that brought success to the Jacobins partially invalid and appointed delegates loyal to the government to secure their position in place of the elected Jacobins. Meanwhile, Bonaparte embarked on a new military adventure. England, the only remaining enemy of France, could not be attacked by a landing of French troops, since her fleets dominated the channel. Bonaparte, appointed commander of the British Army by the Directory, landed with 30,000 soldiers in Egypt to advance to India, the richest British colony. He initially remained victorious in Egypt, but his fleet at Abukir was destroyed by the British fleet.

The year 1799 was to be a decisive one for Napoleon's claims to power. The Board of Directors continued its policy of expansion in Europe. After the establishment of the Roman Republic in 1798, the Parthenopean Republic was proclaimed in 1799 (on the territory of the previous Kingdom of Naples). England formed a new coalition against France with Austria, Russia, Portugal, Naples and the Ottoman Empire. After severe defeats, the French troops succeeded in counterattacks, but the process of dissolving the board of directors through corruption, authoritarian governance and a dramatic loss of reputation could no longer be overlooked. In this domestic and foreign political crisis, Napoleon left his troops in Egypt and entered Paris as the “savior in need”.

IV. Napoleon's coup against the Directory

The coup d'état of 18th Brumaire (November 9th pre-revolutionary calendar) of the year 8 (counted from 1792, from September to September) was his appearance as an official official at the top of the French state - he was now also a statesman in addition to the function of the military and should expand these functions to include those of the legislature. The Directory was done - General Bonaparte is the first of three consuls to take over government power in France. From the start, his two fellow consuls played only a minor role alongside the charismatic Napoleon. Bonaparte immediately dominated the executive and made his mark on France with the consular constitution.

France under the consulate - the transition to the empire

When England in 1799 brought the French republic into existential difficulties through the newly established coalition, Bonaparte saw the time had come to make true what he had said to Miot de Melito in 1797 - to play a role in France that of his role as victorious Commander in Chief of the Army of Italy and as lord of Italy was like. Despite the military debacle in Egypt, Bonaparte could still be sure of the favor of large parts of the population and, in agreement with a number of ambitious politicians, such as early revolutionaries such as the Abbé Sieyès and Talleyrand as well as the army devoted to him, led the coup against the unpopular Directory through.

A triumvirate of consuls formed the executive from now on. They formed a government in which Talleyrand became foreign minister. Napoleon's fellow consul Sieyès was commissioned to draw up a new constitution. The main elements of the constitutions were the restoration of universal suffrage, the four bodies involved in legislation: the Council of State, which drafted the laws, the tribunate, which discussed them without voting on them, the legislative body, which voted on them without discussion, and the Senate, who could reject the laws he judged to be unconstitutional. Three consuls were provided for the executive. The important office of First Consul was given to Napoleon himself. It must be added to the point of universal suffrage that there was no direct election. In three stages, lists of so-called notables proposed by the government as candidates were drawn up first for the districts, then the departments and finally for the national representations; From this, the Senate selected the deputies and civil servants as the tools of the government. Coming back to the position of First Consul - the powers of this office are set out in Article 41 of the new Constitution. It says:

“The First Consul promulgates the laws; he appoints and replaces, at his will, the members of the Council of State, the ministers, the envoys and other senior foreign officials, the officers of the land and sea power, the members of the local administration and the government commissions at the courts of justice. He appoints all criminal and civil judges, with the exception of the peace judges and appellate judges, but without being able to remove them ”(from I. and P. Hartig, Die Französische Revolution, Stuttgart 1979, p. 111 f.).

Napoleon's Coup d’État and the consular constitution in parts of its content and the naming of the new state organs such as senate or consul were inspired by Roman antiquity. Like Caesar, Napoleon saw himself as the “savior of the nation”, as the restorer and keeper of peace, calm, order and law. Similar to his ancient role model, Bonaparte also came close to his goal via intermediate stages, that of founding a united, multinational empire with a "strong man" at the head of the state. In contrast to Julius Caesar, Napoleon achieved his elevation to Emperor, that is, Caesar, and was able to build France for a decade into an almost undisputed European hegemonic power with a claim to world renown.

“What does the new constitution bring us?” - “Bonaparte!” That was a biting saying in the weeks of negotiations on a new constitution. During the drafting of the constitution, Bonaparte succeeded in asserting his own ideas over his fiercest competitor Sieyès on decisive points. The constitution came into force even before the result of the referendum was available. It was an overwhelming one for Bonaparte - less so for the new form of government. The great popularity of Napoleon in large circles of the French population made it possible to ignore obvious weaknesses in the consular constitution. The French had their “strong man” who was able to put a stop to excessive “revolutionary excesses” (Robespierre's rule was still in the bones of many citizens longing for peace and order who had started to do good business since the Thermodorian rule). . The (possessing) bourgeoisie wanted peace and legal security. Bonaparte seemed the right man for that.

An interesting document is the declaration on the submission of the constitution to the referendum. This reflects the intellectual attitude of the Constitutional Fathers, especially in the last two sentences:

“The constitution is based on the true principles of representative government, the sacred rights of property, equality and freedom. The forces it uses will be strong and reliable, as they must be if they are to protect the rights of citizens and the interests of the state. Bürger the revolution adheres to the principles that were at its beginning. It is over. "

Bonaparte, Roger Ducos, Sieyès. (from W. Grab, The French Revolution, A Documentation, Munich 1973, p. 300)

V. The new order - the administrative, economic and social situation of consular France

Bonaparte carried out his coup d'état by force of arms. The constitution gave him the means to secure his rule over France permanently. His domestic policy aimed to win the approval of the most important groups in the state through reforms and to eliminate oppositional movements.

Bonaparte's reform policy was favored by the fact that France was also secured externally by the successful conclusion of the new coalition war that broke out in 1799 and the Amiens peace agreement with England in 1802. The Royalists and Jacobins had transferred their opposition to the Directory to the Consulate. Bonaparte cleverly incorporated the royalists into his system: in 1800 he had 20,000 emigrants struck from the lists of ostracism and enabled them to return. On the other hand, he had rebellious Jacobins deported overseas (they could not be won over to his imperial plans anyway and were a dangerous source of unrest for the consulate).

Actions against the press stifled criticism. As early as January 1800, 60 of 76 newspapers were banned and the others were severely censored. In order to ensure the implementation of the decisions of the government in Paris throughout the country, the First Consul abolished self-government in the departments and returned to the centralization of administration as it had existed under absolutism. Prefects appointed by the First Consul, who were endowed with a similar level of power as the previous directors, represented the government in the departments. State finances were put on a secure footing through a new system of direct taxes collected from state officials; Tax privileges were abolished. The Bank of France, founded in 1800, was given the monopoly to issue banknotes under state control in 1803. In the same year a new currency was created by law, the franc, weighing 5 grams of silver, at the same time a new gold coin of 20 francs, with 155 coins to be minted from one kilogram of gold. This resulted in a stabilization of the state budget and economic activity that had not been achieved either before or during the revolution. Government purchases and sales of grain to lower the price of bread in the face of impending inflation secured Bonaparte the assurance of both the bourgeoisie and the urban lower classes. In a referendum launched by Bonaparte in 1802, the French voted 3,600,000 against 8,374 for a lifelong rule of Napoleon as the first consul (here, too, he was encouraged by Caesar's elevation to dictator for life).

The bourgeoisie in particular welcomed the systematic summary of all civil legal relationships in the Code Napoléon, a new civil code that had been drawn up by a group of well-known lawyers and that was passed in 1804. Basic demands of the revolution were permanently realized: the uniformity of law for all French, the secularity of the state (separation of church and state), the abolition of the feudal system, personal freedom, the equality of all citizens. The right to property, economic freedom and competition were emphatically guaranteed. A step backwards behind the revolutionary legislation, however, meant the provisions on the rights of women who were treated like minors. The First Consul explained about this complete work: "The revolution has been brought back to the principles from which it started."

The Code Napoléon has remained the basis of the French legal system to this day; it was also immediately introduced in the occupied and affiliated territories (it also influenced the Stein-Hardenberg reforms in Prussia and also had an impact on the civil code of the Bismarck Empire and the following German states); thus it has served as a role model far beyond the borders of France and is viewed by legal historians as a milestone in the legal system.

In the religious field, Napoleon worked single-mindedly towards an understanding with the Pope and the Catholic Church. With the Concordat concluded in 1801 between France and Pope Pius VII, Napoleon was able to end the anti-church revolutionary policy and hoped that the still large mass of devout Catholics, especially in the countryside, would break away from their ties to the royalists and emigrants. The Concordat was based on mutual concessions. Although the Catholic faith was not recognized again as the state religion, it was recognized as the "religion of the great majority of the French". Because the expropriation of church property could not be reversed at the beginning of the revolution, this would have alienated the many goods of "national goods" that had emerged from this secularization policy, the state took over the payment of the pastors' salaries, but demanded an oath of loyalty to the French government. A characteristic of Bonaparte's religious policy aimed at reconciliation was that the Protestant churches were also legally recognized (for them a milestone in emancipation since the withdrawal of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV in 1685, which resulted in half a million Huguenots from France, especially to Prussia, fled).

VI. The establishment of the Napoleonic Empire in 1804

From the beginning, Napoleon planned to convert the consulate into a hereditary empire, which, like the consulate, should be based on the Roman-ancient model. Like Caesar, Napoleon saw himself as the creator of the metamorphosis of the disused republic towards a universal empire. He still connected the Roman example with the universal imperial idea of ​​Charlemagne and that of the high medieval Roman-German emperors. He was on the verge of fulfilling his most important domestic political goal when a royalist conspiracy came to his aid. Napoleon used this at the end of 1803 to turn his dream into reality. A basic resolution of the French Senate of May 1804 transformed the consulate into a hereditary empire in the Bonaparte family: "The government of the republic is transferred to an emperor who bears the title of Emperor of the French." The antagonists in this sentence are interesting Republic and Emperor. Did Napoleon want to create the impression that the basic structures of the state remained republican and that only a (new) hereditary dynasty, which was committed to the achievements of the revolution and the republic, stood at the head of the state?

Well, this time, too, the skilful strategist resorted to a referendum to legitimize his ideas and concepts as democratically as possible. The result of the vote was a triumph for Napoleon: 3,572,329 French voted for the establishment of the empire, 2,579 against.

Napoleon knew about the meaning of symbolism and gloire, so that he was able to present a coronation ceremony that he himself had practiced in months of preparation on December 2, 1804, to France and the astonished world. Napoleon was also a master of surprise and refinement. In keeping with the ancient model of Octavian / Augustus, he did not immediately respond to the Senate's request to accept the imperial dignity, but instead allowed himself to be asked a little longer. A tactically clever staging of humility, responsibility and greatness towards the people, the Senate and the country. The coronation, designed according to the Byzantine and Carolingian models, turned out to be a demonstration of his power and his self-confidence. He needed the Pope to legitimize his new title in the church. After the Concordat, he was interested in a good understanding with the “strong man of Europe” and allowed himself to be lured to Paris with the promise that he would crown Napoleon. But things turned out differently and Napoleon put the imperial crown on himself and repeated this act with his wife Joséphine. The Pope was duped, the world stunned once more and not for the last time by Napoleon's chutzpah. At the imperial court, Napoleon created the new nobility by his grace for the old nobility. The focus was on the imperial family, whose members came to high dignities and offices and numerous came as a result of Napoleon's campaigns to conquer new and old thrones of Europe (e.g. his brother Jérome as King of Westphalia, his brother Louis Napoleon as King of Holland, his niece in law Stéphanie as Grand Duchess of Baden). The recognition by the long-established principalities of Europe was enforced by Napoleon for his dynasty by marrying the daughter of Emperor Franz II, the Habsburgess Marie Louise in 1810 and the birth of the heir to the throne, Napoleon (II), King of Rome, who later became Duke of Reichstadt .

Formally, the constitution remained in force from 1804 until his abdication in 1814, but the legal bodies became insignificant because the emperor made almost all of the decisions himself. Strict censorship regulations, Napoleon's arbitrariness, indiscriminate arrests of suspicious persons were in discrepancy with the most important principles of the French Revolution, which were still followed, such as the abolition of noble privileges, the abolition of serfdom, the abolition of compulsory guilds, and the legal equality of citizens before the law in accordance with the Napoleonic Code and religious tolerance.

However, the ever greater armed conflicts with foreign countries (e.g. with England and the continental blockade, Russia and later also Austria and Prussia) resulted in high financial and social burdens for the French population.Before Napoleon's star began to decline, however, he was able to achieve an important foreign policy goal that Napoleon pushed for not only for military and economic hegemonial reasons, but also to stabilize and enforce his idea of ​​a new universal empire in Europe.

VII. Napoleon's idea of ​​an empire and the fall of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nations

First and foremost, it was not England and Russia that stood in the way of his vision of a unified Europe under French leadership, but rather a very old and complex structure in Central Europe, which, as the guardian of the Roman Empire, saw itself expanded to include the Christian-medieval universal imperial idea. This Holy Roman Empire (further abbreviated as HRR) had been severely weakened since the end of the Thirty Years' War, but was still a cohesive state that worked in its imperial organs and, in its centuries-old diversity, was unparalleled in Europe. This confederation or federal state has always been a thorn in the side of power-striving France, which, especially in the Thirty Years' War and later, recognized the opportune moment to weaken the encrusted HRR and finally to destroy it. The fatal blow was rather unspectacular and received largely indifferent from the public.

Like earlier French rulers, Napoleon also had plans on the left bank of the Rhine, so that with his expansion policy he was able to drive a wedge between the southern German states and the German powers Prussia and Austria, which had rivaled each other since the 18th century. Through pressure and lucrative promises, Napoleon reached 16 German princes in 1806 (including Baden, Württemberg, Saxony, Bavaria) to place themselves under French protection and to found the so-called Rhine Confederation. The HRR is now just a torso - its last emperor, Franz II, had already accepted the title of Emperor of Austria in 1804 in response to Napoleon's appointment as emperor. Franz recognized with his advisors that his office as German Emperor was nothing but paperwork and then laid down the Roman-German crown in August 1806 and was from then on Franz I, Emperor of Austria. Prussia, too, had no interest in the continued existence of the Old Reich, as its priorities were already outside the HRR in Poland, West and East Prussia. The same applied to Austria in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Northern Italy. Only the traditional but powerless imperial nobility and the imperial church regretted the end of the HRR, which was blatantly evident as early as 1803 through secularization and mediatization (dissolution of imperial territories in favor of imperial princes such as the elector of Bavaria or the margrave of Baden) in the imperial deputation of the Reichstag in Regensburg.

Napoleon's end is known. The idea of ​​a Europe pacified and ordered by France has not come true. What remains is an intelligent set of laws and the idea of ​​a united Europe that is still in effect today. After Napoleon's death, this quickly became a myth, which was once again made by his nephew Napoleon III. was successfully used or abused between 1848 and 1870. In today's France, he is still spoken of with admiration and fascination and the French only understand L’Empereur to be Napoleon Bonaparte.

Further literature (beyond the information in the chapters)

From the French Revolution to the Congress of Vienna, Gebhardt, Handbook of German History, Volume 14, dtv

The Age of the European Revolution 1780-1848, Fischer Weltgeschichte, Volume 26