French Consulate

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French Consulate

Consulat français
Executive government of the French First Republic
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History
Established10 November 1799
Disbanded18 May 1804
Preceded by French Directory
Succeeded by First French Empire
with Napoleon Bonaparte as emperor
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The Consulate (French: Le Consulat) 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.

French Directory Executive power of the French Constitution of 1795-1799

The Directory or Directorate was a five-member committee that governed France from 2 November 1795, when it replaced the Committee of Public Safety, until 9 November 1799, when it was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, and replaced by the French Consulate. It gave its name to the final four years of the French Revolution.

First French Empire Empire of Napoleon I of France between 1804–1815

The First French Empire, officially the French Empire, was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Although France had already established an overseas colonial empire beginning in the 17th century, the French state had remained a kingdom under the Bourbons and a republic after the Revolution. Historians refer to Napoleon's regime as the First Empire to distinguish it from the restorationist Second Empire (1852–1870) ruled by his nephew as Napoleon III.

Contents

During this period, Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul, established himself as the head of a more authoritarian, autocratic, and centralized republican government in France while not declaring himself sole ruler. Due to the long-lasting institutions established during these years, Robert B. Holtman has called the Consulate "one of the most important periods of all French history." [1] Napoleon brought authoritarian personal rule which has been viewed as military dictatorship. [2]

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

A head of state is the public persona who officially represents the national unity and legitimacy of a sovereign state. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government. In a parliamentary system the head of state is the de jure leader of the nation, and there is a separate de facto leader, often with the title of prime minister. In contrast, a semi-presidential system has both heads of state and government as the leaders de facto of the nation.

A centralized government is one in which power or legal authority is exerted or coordinated by a de facto political executive to which federal states, local authorities, and smaller units are considered subject. In a national context, centralization occurs in the transfer of power to a typically sovereign nation state. Menes, an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the early dynastic period, is credited by classical tradition with having united Upper and Lower Egypt, and as the founder of the first dynasty, became the first ruler to institute a centralized government.

Fall of the Directory Government

French military disasters in 1798 and 1799 had shaken the Directory, and eventually shattered it in November 1799. Historians sometimes date the start of the political downfall of the Directory to the 18 June 1799 (Coup of 30 Prairial VII by the French Republican calendar), when the now only one month in office serving anti-Jacobin Director Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, with the help of the Directory's only surviving original member, the anti-Jacobin Paul Barras, successfully rid himself of the other three then-sitting directors.[ citation needed ] The March-April 1799 elections to the two councils had produced a new Neo-Jacobin majority in the two bodies, and being unhappy with the existing five man Directory, by 5 June 1799, these councils had found an irregularity in the election of the Director Jean Baptiste Treilhard, who thus retired in favor of Louis Jérôme Gohier, a Jacobin more 'in tune' with the feelings in the two councils. The very next day, 18 June 1799, the anti-Jacobins Philippe-Antoine Merlin (Merlin de Douai) and Louis-Marie de La Revellière-Lépeaux were also driven to resign, although one long time anti-Jacobin, popularly known for his cunning, survived the day's coup; they were replaced by the Jacobin Baron Jean-François-Auguste Moulin and by the non-Jacobin, or 'weak' Jacobin, Roger Ducos. The three new directors were generally seen by the anti-Jacobin elite of France as non-entities, a 'put-down' if ever there was one, but that same elite could take some comfort in knowing that the five man Directory was still in anti-Jacobin hands, but with a reduced majority.

The Coup of 30 Prairial Year VII, also known as the Revenge of the Councils was a bloodless coup in France that occurred on 18 June 1799—30 Prairial Year VII by the French Republican Calendar. It left Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès as the dominant figure of the French government, and prefigured the coup of 18 Brumaire that brought Napoleon Bonaparte to power.

French Republican calendar calendar

The French Republican calendar, also commonly called the French Revolutionary calendar, was a calendar created and implemented during the French Revolution, and used by the French government for about 12 years from late 1793 to 1805, and for 18 days by the Paris Commune in 1871. The revolutionary system was designed in part to remove all religious and royalist influences from the calendar, and was part of a larger attempt at decimalisation in France. It was used in government records in France and other areas under French rule, including Belgium, Luxembourg, and parts of the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Malta, and Italy.

Jacobin The most radical group in the French Revolution

The Society of the Friends of the Constitution, after 1792 renamed Society of the Jacobins, Friends of Freedom and Equality, commonly known as the Jacobin Club or simply the Jacobins, became the most influential political club during the French Revolution of 1789 and following. The period of their political ascendency is known as the Reign of Terror, during which time tens of thousands were put on trial and executed in France, many for political crimes.

A few more military disasters, royalist insurrections in the south, Chouan disturbances in a dozen departments of the western part of France (mainly in Brittany, Maine and eventually Normandy), Orléanist intrigues, and the end became certain.[ citation needed ] In order to soothe the populace and protect the frontier, more than the French Revolution's usual terrorist measures (such as the law of hostages) was necessary. The new Directory government, led by the anti-Jacobin Sieyès, decided that the necessary revision of the constitution would require "a head" (his own) and "a sword" (a general to back him). Jean Victor Moreau being unattainable as his sword, Sieyès favoured Barthélemy Catherine Joubert; but, when Joubert was killed at the Battle of Novi (15 August 1799), he turned to General Napoleon Bonaparte.

House of Bourbon European royal house of French origin

The House of Bourbon is a European royal house of French origin, a branch of the Capetian dynasty. Bourbon kings first ruled France and Navarre in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma. Spain and Luxembourg currently have monarchs of the House of Bourbon.

Chouannerie French royalist uprising during the revolution

The Chouannerie was a royalist uprising or counter-revolution in 12 of the western départements of France, particularly in the provinces of Brittany and Maine, against the French First Republic during the French Revolution. It played out in three phases and lasted from the spring of 1794 until 1800.

Brittany (administrative region) Administrative region of France

Brittany is one of the 18 regions of France. It is named after the historic and geographic region of Brittany, of which it constitutes 80%. The capital is Rennes. Bathed by the English Channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south, it is located in the West of France, bordering the Normandy and Pays de la Loire regions. Bro Gozh ma Zadoù is the anthem of Brittany. It is sung to the same tune as that of the national anthem of Wales, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, and has similar words. As a region of France, Brittany has a Regional Council, which was most recently elected in 2015.

Although Guillaume Marie Anne Brune and André Masséna won the Battles of Bergen and of Zürich, and although the Allies of the Second Coalition lingered on the frontier as they had done after the Battle of Valmy, still the fortunes of the Directory were not restored. Success was reserved for Bonaparte, suddenly landing at Fréjus with the prestige of his victories in the East, and now, after Hoche's death (1797), appearing as sole master of the armies.

André Masséna French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars

André Masséna, 1st Duc de Rivoli, 1st Prince d'Essling was a French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original eighteen Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon, with the nickname l'Enfant chéri de la Victoire.

Battle of Bergen (1799)

The Battle of Bergen, also called the Battle of Bergen-Binnen, was fought on 19 September 1799, and resulted in a French-Dutch victory under General Brune and General Daendels against the Russians and British under the Duke of York who had landed in North Holland. The battlefield is marked by the Russisch Monument (1902).

Second Battle of Zurich battle

The Second Battle of Zurich was a key victory by the Republican French army in Switzerland led by André Masséna over an Austrian and Russian force commanded by Alexander Korsakov near Zürich. It broke the stalemate that had resulted from the First Battle of Zurich three months earlier and led to the withdrawal of Russia from the Second Coalition. Most of the fighting took place on both banks of the river Limmat up to the gates of Zürich, and within the city itself.

In the coup of 18 Brumaire Year VIII (9 November 1799), Napoleon seized French parliamentary and military power in a two-fold coup d'état, forcing the sitting directors of the government to resign. On the night of the 19 Brumaire (10 November 1799) a remnant of the Council of Ancients abolished the Constitution of the Year III, ordained the Consulate, and legalised the coup d'état in favour of Bonaparte with the Constitution of the Year VIII.

Coup of 18 Brumaire coup that brought Napoleon to power

The Coup of 18 Brumaire brought General Napoleon Bonaparte to power as First Consul of France and in the view of most historians ended the French Revolution. This bloodless coup d'état overthrew the Directory, replacing it with the French Consulate. This occurred on 9 November 1799, which was 18 Brumaire, Year VIII under the French Republican Calendar.

Council of Ancients the upper house of the French Directory, a.k.a. Council of Elders

The Council of Ancients or Council of Elders was the upper house of French legislature under the Constitution of the Year III, during the period commonly known as the Directory, from 22 August 1795 until 9 November 1799, roughly the second half of the period generally referred to as the French Revolution.

Constitution of the Year III French constitution

The Constitution of the Year III is the constitution that founded the Directory. Adopted by the Convention on 5 Fructidor Year III and approved by plebiscite on September 6. Its preamble is the Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and of the Citizen of 1795.

The new government

The initial 18 Brumaire coup seemed to be a victory for Sieyès, rather than for Bonaparte. Sieyès was a proponent of a new system of government for the Republic, and the coup initially seemed certain to bring his system into force. Bonaparte's cleverness lay in counterposing Pierre Claude François Daunou's plan to that of Sieyès, and in retaining only those portions of each which could serve his ambition. [3]

Constitution of the year VIII and later the French Empire Constitution an VIII et le Empire Francais.png
Constitution of the year VIII and later the French Empire

The new government was composed of three parliamentary assemblies: the Council of State which drafted bills, the Tribunate which could not vote on the bills but instead debated them, and the Legislative Assembly, whose members could not discuss the bills but voted on them after reviewing the Tribunate's debate record. The Sénat conservateur was a governmental body equal to the three aforementioned legislative assemblies and verified the draft bills and directly advised the First Consul on the implications of such bills. Ultimate executive authority was vested in three consuls, who were elected for ten years. Popular suffrage was retained, though mutilated by the lists of notables (on which the members of the Assemblies were to be chosen by the Senate). The four aforementioned governmental organs were retained under the Constitution of the Year XII, which recognized Napoleon as the French sovereign Emperor, but their respective powers were greatly diminished.

Napoleon vetoed Sieyès' original idea of having a single Grand Elector as supreme executive and Head of State. Sieyès had intended to reserve this important position for himself, and by denying him the job Napoleon helped reinforce the authority of the consuls, an office which he would assume. Nor was Napoleon content simply to be part of an equal triumvirate. As the years would progress he would move to consolidate his own power as First Consul, and leave the two other consuls, Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès and Charles-François Lebrun, as well as the Assemblies, weak and subservient.

By consolidating power, Bonaparte was able to transform the aristocratic constitution of Sieyès into an unavowed dictatorship.

On 7 February 1800, a public referendum confirmed the new constitution. It vested all of the real power in the hands of the First Consul, leaving only a nominal role for the other two consuls. A full 99.9% of voters approved the motion, according to the released results.

While this near-unanimity is certainly open to question, Napoleon was genuinely popular among many voters, and after a period of strife, many in France were reassured by his dazzling but unsuccessful offers of peace to the victorious Second Coalition, his rapid disarmament of La Vendée , and his talk of stability of government, order, justice and moderation. He gave everyone a feeling that France was governed once more by a real statesman, and that a competent government was finally in charge.

Napoleon's Consolidation of Power

Portrait of First Consul Bonaparte, by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres 016.jpg
Portrait of First Consul Bonaparte, by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Bonaparte had now to rid himself of Sieyès and of those republicans who had no desire to hand over the republic to one man, particularly of Moreau and Masséna, his military rivals. The victory of Marengo (14 June 1800) momentarily in the balance, but secured by Desaix and Kellermann , offered a further opportunity to his ambition by increasing his popularity. The royalist plot of the Rue Saint-Nicaise on 24 December 1800 allowed him to make a clean sweep of the democratic republicans, who despite their innocence were deported to French Guiana. He annulled the Assemblies and made the Senate omnipotent in constitutional matters.

The Treaty of Lunéville, signed in February 1801 with Austria (which had been disarmed by Moreau’s victory at Hohenlinden ), restored peace to Europe, gave nearly the whole of Italy to France, and permitted Bonaparte to eliminate from the Assemblies all the leaders of the opposition in the discussion of the Civil Code. The Concordat of 1801, drawn up not in the Church's interest but in that of his own policy, by giving satisfaction to the religious feeling of the country, allowed him to put down the constitutional democratic Church, to rally round him the consciences of the peasants, and above all to deprive the royalists of their best weapon. The Articles Organiques hid from the eyes of his companions-in-arms and councillors a reaction which, in fact if not in law, restored to a submissive Church, despoiled of her revenues, her position as the religion of the state.

The Peace of Amiens (25 March 1802) with the United Kingdom, of which France's allies, Spain and the Batavian Republic, paid all the costs, finally gave the peacemaker a pretext for endowing himself with a Consulate, not for ten years but for life, as a recompense from the nation. The Rubicon was crossed on that day: Bonaparte’s march to empire began with the Constitution of the Year X dated 16 Thermidor or 4 August 1802.

On 2 August 1802 (14 Thermidor, An X), a second national referendum was held, this time to confirm Napoleon as "First Consul for Life." [4] Once again, a vote claimed 99.7% approval. [5] [6]

As Napoleon increased his power, he borrowed many techniques of the Ancien Régime in his new form of one-man government. Like the old monarchy, he re-introduced plenipotentiaries, an over-centralised, strictly utilitarian administrative and bureaucratic methods, and a policy of subservient pedantic scholasticism towards the nation's universities. He constructed or consolidated the funds necessary for national institutions, local governments, a judiciary system, organs of finance, banking, codes, traditions of conscientious well-disciplined labour force.

France enjoyed a high level of peace and order under Napoleon that helped to raise the standard of comfort. Prior to this, Paris had often suffered from hunger and thirst, and lacked fire and light, but under Napoleon, provisions became cheap and abundant, while trade prospered and wages ran high. The pomp and luxury of the nouveaux riches were displayed in the salons of the good Joséphine , the beautiful Madame Tallien , and the "divine" Juliette Récamier .

In strengthening the machinery of state, Napoleon created the elite order of the Légion d'honneur (The Legion of Honour), the Concordat , and restored indirect taxes, an act seen as a betrayal of the Revolution.

Napoleon was largely able to quell dissent within government by expelling his more vocal critics, such as Benjamin Constant and Madame de Staël . The expedition to San Domingo reduced the republican army to a nullity. Constant war helped demoralise and scatter the military's leaders, who were jealous of their "comrade" Bonaparte. The last major challenge to Napoleon's authority came from Moreau, who was compromised in a royalist plot; he too was sent into exile.

In contradistinction to the opposition of senators and republican generals, the majority of the French populace remained uncritical of Bonaparte's authority. No suggestion of the possibility of his death was tolerated. The Napoleonic age began here when he became officer of the French state and established the Consulate.

The Duke of Enghien Affair

Portrait of Louis Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Enghien, by Jean-Michel Moreau Louis-Antoine de Bourbon-Conde.png
Portrait of Louis Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Enghien, by Jean-Michel Moreau

Because Napoleon's hold on political power was still tenuous, French Royalists devised a plot that involved kidnapping and assassinating him and inviting Louis Antoine de Bourbon , the Duke of Enghien, to lead a coup d'état that would precede the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy with Louis XVIII on the throne. The British government of William Pitt the Younger had contributed to this Royalist conspiracy by financing one million pounds and providing naval transport (with the ship of Captain John Wesley Wright) to the conspirators Georges Cadoudal and General Charles Pichegru for their return to France from England. Pichegru met Jean Victor Marie Moreau , one of Napoleon's generals and a former protege of Pichegru, on 28 January 1804. The next day, a British secret agent named Courson was arrested and he, under torture, confessed that Pichegru, Moreau and Cadoudal were conspiring to overthrow the Consulate. The French government sought more details of this plot by arresting and torturing Louis Picot, Cadoudal's servant. Joachim Murat ordered the city gates of Paris to be closed from 7 pm to 6 am while Pichegru and Moreau were arrested during the next month.

These further arrests revealed that the Royalist conspiracy would eventually involve the active participation of the Duke of Enghien, who was a relatively young Bourbon prince and thus another possible heir to a restored Bourbon monarchy. The Duke, at that time, was living as a French émigré in the future Grand Duchy of Baden, but then still the 1803-1806 Electorate of Baden, but he also kept a rented house in Ettenheim, which was close to the French border. Perhaps at the urging of Talleyrand , Napoleon's foreign minister, and Fouché, Napoleon's minister of police who had warned that "the air is full of daggers", the First Consul came to the political conclusion that the Duke must be dealt with. Two hundred French soldiers surrounded the Duke's home in Baden and arrested him.

On the way back to France d'Enghien stated that "he had sworn implacable hatred against Bonaparte as well as against the French; he would take every occasion to make war on them." [7]

After three plots to assassinate him and the further financing of a supposed insurrection in Strasbourg, Napoleon had enough. Based on d'Enghien's who were seized at his home in Germany and the material from the police, d'Enghien was charged as a conspirator in time of war and was subject to a military court. He was ordered to be tried by a court of seven colonels at Vincennes.

D'Enghien during his questioning at the court told them that he was being paid £4,200 per year by England "in order to combat not France but a government to which his birth had made him hostile." Further, he stated that "I asked England if I might serve in her armies, but she replied that that was impossible: I must wait on the Rhine, where I would have a part to play immediately, and I was in fact waiting." [8]

D'Enghien was found guilty of being in violation of Article 2 of a law of 6 October 1791, to wit, "Any conspiracy and plot aimed at disturbing the State by civil war, and arming the citizens against one another, or against lawful authority, will be punished by death." He was executed in the ditch of the fortress of Vincennes.

The aftermath caused hardly a ripple in France, but abroad, it produced a storm of anger. Many of those who had favored or been neutral to Napoleon now turned against him. But Napoleon always assumed full responsibility for allowing the execution and continued to believe that, on balance, he had done the right thing.

End of the First Republic

The endless conspiracies against Bonaparte's life began to raise concerns that the Republic would collapse shortly following his death, followed by either the Bourbons restored, a military dictatorship, or the Jacobins with their guillotine. Fouché suggested that Napoleon create a hereditary title to cement his legacy and lessen the likelihood that the regime would change upon his death. Napoleon was at first reluctant to accept the title. However, he was ultimately persuaded to do so, provided that the power come from the people, not by divine right. On 18 May 1804, the Senate passed a bill introducing the French Empire, with Napoleon as Emperor. The coronation ceremony took place on 2 December 1804, where Napoleon crowned himself as Emperor of the French, establishing the Empire.

Consuls

The provisional Consuls (10 November – 12 December 1799)
Napoleon - 2.jpg Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes - crop.jpg Pierre Roger Ducos par Edme Quenedey.jpg
Napoleon Bonaparte
First Consul
Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès
Second Consul
Roger Ducos
Third Consul
During the Consulate (12 December 1799 – 18 May 1804)
Bonaparte premier Consul Gerard Chantilly.jpg Maurin - Cambaceres.png Charles Francois Lebrun prince architresorier de l'Empire.jpg
Napoleon Bonaparte
First Consul
J.J. Cambacérès
Second Consul
Charles-François Lebrun
Third Consul

Ministers

See Cabinet of the French Consulate

The Ministers under the Consulate were: [9]

MinistryStartEndMinister
Foreign Affairs11 November 179922 November 1799 Charles-Frédéric Reinhard
22 November 179918 May 1804 Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
Justice11 November 179925 December 1799 Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès
25 December 179914 September 1802 André Joseph Abrial
14 September 180218 May 1804 Claude Ambroise Régnier
War11 November 17992 April 1800 Louis-Alexandre Berthier
2 April 18008 October 1800 Lazare Carnot
8 October 180018 May 1804 Louis-Alexandre Berthier
Finance11 November 179918 May 1804 Martin-Michel-Charles Gaudin
Police11 November 179918 May 1804 Joseph Fouché
Interior12 November 179925 December 1799 Pierre-Simon Laplace
25 December 179921 January 1801 Lucien Bonaparte
21 January 180118 May 1804 Jean-Antoine Chaptal
Navy and Colonies12 November 179922 November 1799 Marc Antoine Bourdon de Vatry
22 November 17993 October 1801 Pierre-Alexandre-Laurent Forfait
3 October 180118 May 1804 Denis Decrès
Secretary of State25 December 179918 May 1804 Hugues-Bernard Maret, duc de Bassano
Treasury27 September 180118 May 1804 François Barbé-Marbois
War Administration12 March 180218 May 1804 Jean François Aimé Dejean

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Pichegru Conspiracy

The Pichegru Conspiracy, otherwise known as the Cadoudal Affair was a conspiracy involving royalists Jean-Charles Pichegru and Georges Cadoudal who wished to overthrow Napoleon Bonaparte's military regime. They were apprehended and sentenced to death, but not before the rumors of their plot reached Napoleon. Bonaparte believed Louis Antoine, Duke of Enghien was in contact with the conspirators and his fear of the loss of his power prompted the execution of the innocent Duke. The affair provoked the old aristocracy to oppose the regime as well as strengthening the influence of the Minister of Police, Joseph Fouché.

Historian Philip Dwyer claims Napoleon faced between 20 and 30 assassination plots during his reign over France.

References

  1. Robert B. Holtman, The Napoleonic Revolution (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981), 31.
  2. Jones, Colin. The Cambridge Illustrated History of France (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 193–94. ISBN   0-521-43294-4.
  3. Antoine-Claire Thibaudeau, "Creation of the Consular Government," Napoleon: Symbol for an Age, A Brief History with Documents, ed. Rafe Blaufarb (New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008), 54–56.
  4. "From Life Consulship to the hereditary Empire (1802–1804)". Napoleon.org. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  5. Frank McLynn (2002). Napoleon. Arcade Publishing. pp. 253–54. ISBN   978-1-55970-631-5.
  6. Lucius Hudson Holt, Alexander Wheeler Chilton (1919). A Brief History of Europe from 1789–1815. The Macmillan Company. p. 206.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  7. Cronin 1994, p. 242
  8. Cronin 1994, pp. 243–44

Bibliography


Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Wiriath, Paul (1911). "France § History"  . In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica . 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 859–860.