Constitution of the Year VIII

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Constitution of the Year VIII
Constitution du 22 frimaire an VIII (13 decembre 1799). Page 3 - Archives Nationales - AE-I-29-4.jpg
Constitution of the Year VIII (1799).
Original title(in French) Constitution de l'an VIII

The Constitution of the Year VIII (French : Constitution de l'an VIII or French : Constitution du 22 frimaire an VIII) was a national constitution of France, adopted on December 24, 1799 (during the Year VIII of the French Revolutionary Calendar), which established the form of government known as the Consulate. The coup of 18 Brumaire (November 9, 1799) had effectively given all power to Napoleon Bonaparte, and in the eyes of some, ended the French Revolution.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Constitution Set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed

A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation or other type of entity, and commonly determine how that entity is to be governed.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Contents

After the coup, Napoleon and his allies legitimized his position by crafting the "short and obscure Constitution of the Year VIII" (as Malcolm Crook has called it [1] ). The constitution tailor-made the position of First Consul to give Napoleon most of the powers of a dictator. It was the first constitution since the 1789 Revolution without a Declaration of Rights.

Malcolm Crook is Professor of French history at Keele University and is editor of the journal French History.

Dictator An absolutist or autocratic ruler who assumes sole power over the state

A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power. A state which is ruled by a dictator is called a dictatorship. The word originated as the title of a magistrate in the Roman Republic appointed by the Senate to rule the republic in times of emergency.

The document vested executive power in three Consuls, but all actual power was held by the First Consul, Bonaparte. This differed from Robespierre's republic of c.1792 to 1795 (which was more radical), and from the oligarchic liberal republic of the Directory (1795-1799), but resembled the autocratic Roman Republic of Caesar Augustus, a conservative republic-in-name, which reminded the French of stability, order, and peace.[ citation needed ] To emphasize this, the authors of the constitutional document used classical Roman terms, such as "Consul", "Senator" and "Tribune".

Consul was the title of one of the two chief magistrates of the Roman Republic, and subsequently also an important title under the Roman Empire. The title was used in other European city states through antiquity and the Middle Ages, then revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic. The related adjective is consular, from the Latin consularis.

Maximilien Robespierre French revolutionary lawyer and politician

Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre was a French lawyer and politician, as well as one of the best known and most influential figures associated with the French Revolution. As a member of the Constituent Assembly, the Jacobin Club and National Convention, Robespierre was an outspoken advocate for the citizens without a voice, for their unrestricted admission to the National Guard, to public offices, and for the right to petition. He campaigned for universal manhood suffrage, abolition of celibacy, religious tolerance and the abolition of slavery in the French colonies. Robespierre played an important role after the Storming of the Tuileries, which led to the establishment of the First French Republic on 22 September 1792.

National Convention single-chamber assembly in France from 21 September 1792 to 26 October 1795

The National Convention was the first government of the French Revolution, following the two-year National Constituent Assembly and the one-year Legislative Assembly. Created after the great insurrection of 10 August 1792, it was the first French government organized as a republic, abandoning the monarchy altogether. The Convention sat as a single-chamber assembly from 20 September 1792 to 26 October 1795.

The Constitution of Year VIII established a legislature of three houses, which was composed of a Conservative Senate of 80 men over the age of 40, a Tribunate of 100 men and a Legislative Body (Corps législatif) of 300 men.

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.

The Tribunat was one of the four assemblies set up in France by the Constitution of Year VIII. It was set up officially on 1 January 1800 at the same time as the Corps législatif. Its first president was the historian Pierre Daunou, whose independent spirit led to his dismissal from the post by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. The Tribunat assumed some of the functions of the Council of Five Hundred, but its role consisted only of deliberating projected laws before their adoption by the Corps législatif, with the legislative initiative remaining with the Council of State.

Corps législatif Wikimedia disambiguation page

The Corps législatif was a part of the French legislature during the French Revolution and beyond. It is also the generic French term used to refer to any legislative body.

The Constitution also used the term "notables". The word "notables" had been in common usage under the monarchy; every Frenchman understood it, and it was comforting.[ citation needed ] It referred to prominent, "distinguished" men — landholders, merchants, scholars, professionals, clergymen and officials. The people in each district chose a slate of "notables" by popular vote. The First Consul, the Tribunate, and the Corps Législatif each nominated one Senatorial candidate to the rest of the Senate, which chose one candidate from among the three. Once all of its members were picked, it would then appoint the Tribunate, the Corps Législatif, the judges of cassation, and the commissioners of accounts from the slate of notables.[ citation needed ]

Napoleon held a plebiscite on the Constitution on 7 February 1800. The vote was not binding, but it allowed Napoleon to maintain a veneer of democracy. Lucien Bonaparte announced results of 3,011,007 in favor and 1,562 against the new dispensation. The true result was probably around 1.55 million for it, with several thousand against it.[ citation needed ]

Lucien Bonaparte French statesman

Lucien Bonaparte, Prince Français, 1st Prince of Canino and Musignano, the third surviving son of Carlo Bonaparte and his wife Letizia Ramolino, was a French statesman, who served as the final President of the Council of Five Hundred at the end of the French Revolution.

This Constitution was amended, firstly, by the Constitution of the Year X, which made Napoleon First Consul for Life. A more extensive alteration, the Constitution of the Year XII, established the Bonaparte dynasty with Napoleon as a hereditary Emperor. The first, brief Bourbon Restoration of 1814 abolished the Napoleonic constitutional system, but the Emperor revived it and at once virtually replaced it with the so-called "Additional Act" of April 1815, promulgated on his return to power. The return of Louis XVIII in July 1815 (following the Hundred Days) saw the definitive abolition of Napoleon's constitutional arrangements. The Napoleonic constitutions were completely replaced by the Bourbon Charter of 1814.

Sources

Connelly, Owen (2000). The French Revolution and Napoleonic Era. 3rd Edition. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt. pp. 201–203.

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References

  1. Crook, Malcolm (1999). "The Myth Of The 18 Brumaire". H-France Napoleon Forum. Retrieved 12 December 2007.