The French Revolution: Napoleon's Rise To Power

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Following the Reign of Terror, France was ruled by a corrupt five-man governing body called the Directory, which was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte through a coup d’état. Napoleon, a military general, rose to power through a series of military conquests and eventually became the First Consul of the French Republic. The French people viewed Napoleon favorably, as his military and political genius would likely lead to the creation of a prosperous and united France. Moreover, they believed that he would uphold the ideas they had fought for during the French Revolution: liberty, equality, and fraternity. While Napoleon stabilized and united French society by supporting the liberty of his people and ensuring equality of opportunity in education…show more content…
Napoleon’s Imperial Decree at Madrid stated that “from the publication of the present decree, feudal rights are abolished...all feudal monopolies of ovens, mills, and inns are suppressed” (Document 8). By abolishing feudalism, Napoleon promoted liberty and freed people from their duties to their lords. Individuals no longer had to conform to their social status and were able to pursue their own success by having access to previously exclusive resources. Napoleon believed that the privileges of the upper class should be abolished (Pagano “Napoleon Domestic Program Good”). He created the Code Napoleon, which guaranteed equality under the law, regulation of the economy, absolute security of wealth and private property, and the end of feudalism (Pagano “Napoleon Domestic Program Good”). The Code Napoleon showed his desire for lower class citizens, such as poor farmers, to have an equal opportunity to succeed. His actions to regulate the economy alleviated the issues with taxing the Third Estate faced. Napoleon extended liberty even to those he conquered. In a speech to troops, Napoleon said that “there is one condition you must swear to fulfill - to respect the people whom you liberate...your property, your religion, and your customs will be respected” (Document 1). By placing emphasis on respecting, and not oppressing, Napoleon aimed to create stability. Respecting their rights to own property and practice their own religion was an effort to maintain the liberty of the people. In other words, he did not want them to feel inferior and threatened, believing that they should also have an opportunity to thrive in society. Thus by promoting individual choice and freedom, Napoleon was able to ensure stability in
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