Acte de déchéance de l'Empereur

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Manuscript project of the Acte de déchéance de l'Empereur

The Acte de déchéance de l'Empereur ("Emperor's Demise Act") is a legislative decision taken by the Sénat conservateur on 2 April 1814, recognising the downfall of Napoléon I of France.

The Sénat conservateur was an advisory body established in France during the Consulate following the French Revolution. It was established in 1799 under the Constitution of the Year VIII following the Napoleon Bonaparte-led Coup of 18 Brumaire. It lasted until 1814 when Napoleon Bonaparte was overthrown and the Bourbon monarchy was restored. The Sénat was a key element in Napoleon's regime.

Contents

Background

Since the French Revolution had deposed Louis XVI, France had been almost constantly at war with most of Europe. Chronic political instability and the constant rumbles of war created a favourable terrain for a military coup, which General Bonaparte exploited on 18 Brumaire, establishing the French Consulate in the Constitution of the Year VIII, led by an equilateral triumvirate. Two years later, the Constitution was amended into the Constitution of the Year X, making Bonaparte First Consul for life. Finally, on 18 May 1804, the Sénat conservateur passed the Constitution of the Year XII. establishing an Emperor, Bonaparte, styling himself "Napoléon I, Emperor of the French". Napoleon was crowned emperor on 2 December 1804, inaugurating the First French Empire.

French Revolution social and political revolution in France and its colonies occurring from 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Louis XVI of France King of France and Navarre

Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste, was the last King of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as Citizen Louis Capet during the four months before he was guillotined. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, son and heir apparent of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin of France. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he assumed the title "King of France and Navarre", which he used until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of "King of the French" until the monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792.

French Consulate former government of France

The Consulate was the top level Government of France from the fall of the Directory in the coup of Brumaire on 10 November 1799 until the start of the Napoleonic Empire on 18 May 1804. By extension, the term The Consulate also refers to this period of French history.

A series of conflicts culminated in the War of the Sixth Coalition, in which the French invasion of Russia led to the near obliteration of the Grande Armée. By February 1814, the French Army was so depleted that, even after winning every battle of the Six Days' Campaign, it could not stop the march of the Allies on Paris.

War of the Sixth Coalition Part of the Napoleonic Wars

In the War of the Sixth Coalition, sometimes known in Germany as the War of Liberation, a coalition of Austria, Prussia, Russia, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden, Spain and a number of German States defeated France and drove Napoleon into exile on Elba. After the disastrous French invasion of Russia of 1812, the continental powers joined Russia, the United Kingdom, Portugal and the rebels in Spain who were already at war with France.

French invasion of Russia Napoleon Bonapartes attempted conquest of the Russian Empire

The French invasion of Russia, known in Russia as the Patriotic War of 1812 and in France as the Russian Campaign, began on 24 June 1812 when Napoleon's Grande Armée crossed the Neman River in an attempt to engage and defeat the Russian army. Napoleon hoped to compel Tsar Alexander I of Russia to cease trading with British merchants through proxies in an effort to pressure the United Kingdom to sue for peace. The official political aim of the campaign was to liberate Poland from the threat of Russia. Napoleon named the campaign the Second Polish War to gain favor with the Poles and provide a political pretext for his actions.

The Grande Armée was the army commanded by Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1805 to 1809, the Grande Armée scored a series of historic victories that gave the French Empire an unprecedented grip on power over the European continent. Widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest fighting forces ever assembled, it suffered terrible losses during the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and never recovered its tactical superiority after that campaign.

The Allies arrived at the outskirts of Paris in late March, and Talleyrand maneuvered to take upon himself to negotiate the capitulation of Marmont, who defended the capital. On 31 March, Talleyrand dined at his hotel with Frederick William III of Prussia and Alexander I of Russia, and pleaded for a Bourbon restoration, arguing that the Senate would support the plan.

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord French diplomat

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, 1st Prince of Benevento, then 1st Prince of Talleyrand, was a laicized French bishop, politician, and diplomat. After theology studies, he became in 1780 Agent-General of the Clergy and represented the Catholic Church to the French Crown. He worked at the highest levels of successive French governments, most commonly as foreign minister or in some other diplomatic capacity. His career spanned the regimes of Louis XVI, the years of the French Revolution, Napoleon, Louis XVIII, and Louis-Philippe. Those he served often distrusted Talleyrand but, like Napoleon, found him extremely useful. The name "Talleyrand" has become a byword for crafty, cynical diplomacy.

Auguste de Marmont French General, nobleman and Marshal of France

Auguste Frédéric Louis Viesse de Marmont was a French general and nobleman who rose to the rank of Marshal of France and was awarded the title Duke of Ragusa.

Frederick William III of Prussia King of Prussia

Frederick William III was king of Prussia from 1797 to 1840. He ruled Prussia during the difficult times of the Napoleonic Wars and the end of the Holy Roman Empire. Steering a careful course between France and her enemies, after a major military defeat in 1806, he eventually and reluctantly joined the coalition against Napoleon in the Befreiungskriege. Following Napoleon's defeat he was King of Prussia during the Congress of Vienna, which assembled to settle the political questions arising from the new, post-Napoleonic order in Europe. He was determined to unify the Protestant churches, to homogenize their liturgy, their organization and even their architecture. The long-term goal was to have fully centralized royal control of all the Protestant churches in the Prussian Union of Churches.

Act

On 1 April 1814, the Sénat conservateur elected Talleyrand chief of a five-member provisionary government. [1]

The next morning, Talleyrand and Barthélemy, president of the Senate, [1] proposed a motion to depose Napoléon and the House of Bonaparte, and call the Count of Provence to the throne as King Louis XVIII.

François-Marie, marquis de Barthélemy French politician and diplomat

François-Marie, Marquess of Barthélemy was a French politician and diplomat, active at the time of the French Revolution.

House of Bonaparte imperial and royal European dynasty

The House of Bonaparte was an imperial and royal European dynasty of Italian origin. It was founded in 1804 by Napoleon I, the son of Genoese nobleman Carlo Buonaparte. Napoleon was a French military leader who had risen to power during the French Revolution and who in 1804 transformed the First French Republic into the First French Empire, five years after his coup d'état of November 1799. Napoleon turned the Grande Armée against every major European power and dominated continental Europe through a series of military victories during the Napoleonic Wars. He installed members of his family on the thrones of client states, extending the power of the dynasty.

Louis XVIII of France Bourbon King of France and of Navarre

Louis XVIII, known as "the Desired", was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who ruled as King of France from 1814 to 1824, except for a period in 1815 known as the Hundred Days. He spent twenty-three years in exile, from 1791 to 1814, during the French Revolution and the First French Empire, and again in 1815, during the period of the Hundred Days, upon the return of Napoleon I from Elba.

On 3 April, the Senate voted a text detailing its reasons for ousting Napoléon. It charged the emperor with numerous violations of the Constitution of the Year XII, which it had itself approved over the years. [1] The minutes of the meeting were published in Le Moniteur Universel of 4 April. [1] [2]

The final paragraph read: The Senate declares and decrees as follows: 1. Napoleon Buonaparte is cast down from the throne, and the right of succession in his family is abolished. 2. The French people and army are absolved from their oath of fidelity to him. 3. The present decree shall be transmitted to the departments and armies, and proclaimed immediately in all the quarters of the capital.

Aftermath

Abdication of Napoleon Abdication napoleon02.jpg
Abdication of Napoléon

On 11 April, after attempting to put his son on the throne, Napoléon abdicated unconditionally. The Allies left him his title of Emperor, but exiled him to Elba, which was to be the whole extent of this reign. Napoléon attempted to return to power on 26 February 1815, leading to the Hundred Days. He was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo and exiled to the remote rock of Saint Helena.

In the following years, the Acte de déchéance de l'Empereur served as a litmus test of allegiance to the House of Bourbon.

Sources and references

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