The Age of Napoleon

Educational System

Before Napoleon was in charge of France, the educational system of France consisted of a military school used to train men to fight for their country and the importance of nationalism. When Napoleon came to power, he passed laws that focused on primary education of children, but the rules were not heavily followed. His idea was not in line with the Revolution’s ideas because the Revolution believed that children should go to school to defend their country, not to learn. The education laws were never followed through with after his death because they did not follow the ideals of the Revolution.

Concordat of 1801

Before Napoleon was in power, France considered itself to be an enemy of the church because it was a threat to the French government. When Napoleon came into power he created the Concordat of 1801 which said that Catholicism was the religion of a majority of the people of France, but the Concordat didn’t give any lands back to the church that were seized during the Revolution which made the people of France happy. The peace between France and the Catholic church remained in France after Napoleon’s death because he had created a compromise that pleased both the church and the people of France.

Financial System

  1. The financial system before Napoleon was in shambles. It was one of the immediate causes of the French Revolution. The economic system has suffered periodic crises. The bad harvests had led to food shortages. This meant rising prices for food but the unemployment rate also went up. Despite these economic crises, the French government continued to spend large sums of money on wars and luxuries. A lot of the money also went towards the American colonists fighting against Britain. The government’s financial system was collapsing.

  2. Napoleon had done many things to aid France domestically. The building of roads, canals, etc. had helped with trade. Trade was important for France so they could get their economy back on track. Napoleon had also issued fair taxes to the people of France. Unlike before, the taxation was not paid by one group of people. Napoleon had also created a new commercial code for France. It had outlined the policies and had set an outline for French economy. Napoleon had created the Banque de France or Bank of France, that acted as a central bank.

  3. Yes the reforms were inline with the Revolution. The Third Estate had been unhappy with the French government for multiple reasons. All of the taxation had been put on the Third Estate. They were also angry because Louis XVI and his wife were using the money on luxuries and wars instead of helping the economy or government. Napoleon had been focused on improving France domestically and started with the internal problems. The people of France had respected Napoleon for this reason.

  4. The legacy of Napoleon is still seen in today’s France. France still has a powerful, central bank just as Napoleon’s Bank of France had. The Bank serves as a funding project throughout France. This is what Napoleon wanted and he was able to improve the financial system of France.

Restructuring of Government

  • The government before Napoleon had been the Directory—a council of five. The Directory had been the government had maintained its control over France mostly by the military. This was an executive committee that had soon been overthrown by a coup d’état. This would soon lead to Napoleon’s reign over France.

  • Some changes or reforms in the government that Napoleon made in France were both leaning toward the Revolutionary standpoint and towards his own strive for power. To appease the people and to encourage them to support Napoleon, he had overthrown the previous government and established his own. This new government—the coup d’état—had claimed itself to be a republic while in truth Napoleon held absolute power. Also to satisfy French people, Napoleon had developed a strong, centralized governing administrative machine. This was a bureaucracy. This allowed for the people to be given promotions based on the individual’s ability, not on rank or birth. Later, for own personal gain, he would name himself consul for life, giving him supreme power. Then, he would crown himself Emperor Napoleon I.

  • These changes and reforms in the government, as stated previously, were in favor of both the French Revolution and of himself. He did in fact make reforms in France’s government that pushed toward the revolution’s ideals, although these were soon overshadowed by his personal gain. Some of these revolutionary reforms include his codification of laws, his new and developed bureaucracy, and the aristocracy based on merit in the state service.

  • These changes and reforms did indeed having a lasting impact. For one thing, the Napoleonic Code is still in place today in France and several other countries. Also, his contributions would have an influence on liberty and equality throughout the rest of history. Napoleon’s legacy still lives on, as he had given future governments a path to follow.

Legal System

Before Napoleon France did not have a set group of laws. But rather they had over 300 different legal systems. During the revolution many efforts were made to cut it down to one main set of laws but it never was finished. This left Napoleon to finished the job and make one set of laws for France. He finished the set of laws naming it the seven codes of law. The most important code, Civil Code, preserved most of the French Revolution ideas. It did so by recognizing the principles of equality (of the estates), right to choose a profession, religious toleration, and the abolishment of serfdom and feudalism. Some of the new laws made by Napoleon did not follow the ideas of the French Revolution. For example, women made a step in equal rights in the revolution but Napoleon made it harder for them to get divorces, were treated as minors, and were thought of as “less equal” than men. The changes that Napoleon made to the legal system in France have had a legacy after his rule because the seven codes of law or Napoleonic Code is still being used today in France, other than a few changes and updates over the years.

Works Cited

Textbook (Chapter 11)

"Napoleon Bonaparte's Lasting Contributions." - For Dummies. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2016.