Impact of Napoleon

Restructuring Government

Before Napoleon took control of the government, The Directory was the ruling government in place after the Revolution came to an end. They wanted to establish order built on reason and in order for this to happen the government took away the focus on religion and worked on dechristianizing France. The Committee of Public Safety was also in place to make sure that the citizens were following the new system and that there were not any royalists left. There were many beheadings and killing during this time and the economic problems hadn’t been solved even with a new constitution and form of government. Once Napoleon overthrew the Directory and came to power in France he gave himself absolute power and formed a new government, the Consolute. Napoleon appointed members to the bureaucracy, controlled the army, conducted foreign affairs, and influenced the legislature. He made peace with the Church and unlike in the Directory, he reinstated Catholicism as France’s main religion. Napoleon’s leading also differed from the Directory’s when Napoleon came up with newly codified laws, when before there were up to 300 legal systems. This code undid many of the Revolutionary changes that people worked so hard to achieve, such as taking away women’s rights and making them look as lesser into the political system. Although many of Napoleon’s government rulings differed from the Directory, he did still want to make people equal before the law, promote religious toleration, and have economic freedom. Lastly, during his rule, Napoleon developed a centralized administrative machine where promotion was based on performance instead of ability which opened up government jobs and gave the middle class a change they wanted. Once Napoleon’s rule came to an end King Louis XVI’s brother, King Louis XVIII, came to power and the Bourbon dynasty had been restored.

Educational System

Before Napoleon declared himself the king of France, the Committee had passed seemingly pointless laws but also a law aimed at primary education for all. After Napoleon took over, he became interested in centralized control over the education system. He thought that all institutes of education were important and that everything past, present, or future depends on it. He also set up primary schools, secondary or grammar schools, high schools, technical schools, military schools, civil schools, the University of France, and a centralized training of teachers. Due to Napoleon’s actions, education in France was changed forever and more and more people became educated. This legacy left behind and impact for schools worldwide then and also now.



Financial System

The Financial system in place in France at the time was in complete ruins when Napoleon stepped in. The price of bread took up 97% of people’s income just for two loaves. The inflation was incredibly high. Napoleon knew that roads and bridges were important to trade so he started redoing all of the infrastructures in France. He reformed the currency and also started the Bank of France. Napoleon finally put tariffs on foreign good to help local shops get more business. Yes, these Ideas were definitely on point with what the French wanted to accomplish. Yes, some of these fixes are still in use today.


Legal System

The legal system before Napoleon was complete chaos, as he said. The laws were not certified and there was no actual set of laws or rules for anyone to follow. Instead of having a law system, they had 300 different legal systems. After Napoleon took rule, however, that changed. Napoleon created something called the Civil Code, or Napoleonic Code. This code stated the rights and obligations of citizens, the laws of property, contracts, inheritance and more. Although it gave many rights to man, it gave hardly any rights to women and whatever rights they had during the Revolution were taken away. These changes were not exactly what the French Revolution was about since it was about freedom and equality for all (which includes women). Since their rights were taken but men were given more, it was very against the Revolution’s ideas. These changes lasted for a long time, but it is not what the legal system is like in France today. The women have rights and are very equal next to men, and the rules are not as enforced and the punishments are not as severe.

Concordat of 1801

Before Napoleon came to power in France, the Revolutionary leaders of the Directory decided to break off all ties with the Church in hopes of establishing reason. Sundays and all religious holidays were removed from the new, non-religious calendar that was created. Places of worship were destroyed or pillaged through and some, such as how the Notre Dame was changed to the Temple of Reason. Once Napoleon became the head ruler of France he decided to make religious amends with the Pope even though he was not religious himself. He thought that France would be better off with religion since Catholicism was so deep rooted. Napoleon met with Pope Pius VII and they signed the Concordat of 1801 which reestablished the Catholic Church as the main religion in France. Under this agreement, the Church gave back their claimed lands. This document marked religious freedom being reinstated into France. This greatly differed from the Revolutionary plans under the Directory and the National Assembly.


Works Cited

"HistoryWiz: The Concordat of 1801." HistoryWiz: The Concordat of 1801. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2016.

"Schoology Reading." 11.3 Reading. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2016.

Spielvogel, Jackson J. "11." Glencoe World History. New York, NY: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2005. N. pag. Print.