From 1799 to 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte was the emperor of France. On November 9, 1799, Napoleon and members of the legislature removed the Directory, dictatorship of five men during the French revolution, from office because the Directory was weak and failed to improve conditions in France. A new constitution was formed consolidating Napoleon’s position and Napoleon was named first consul of the republic because of a vastly agreed plebiscite, a one-time vote by all French men, in December 1799. Bonaparte used his domestic policies, great military tactics, and foreign policies to keep himself in power from 1799-1815.
Napoleon established domestic policies in order to maintain order, end civil strife, and gain the popular support he needed in order to keep himself in power. When the Concordat of 1801 was signed by Napoleon and Pope Pius VII, the pope gained the right for French Catholics to practice their religion and Napoleon gained political power in the church. Napoleon’s government paid the clergy, nominated bishops, and exerted influence over the church in France.
Additionally, he worked out agreements with elite groups in France in which the groups received favors in return for their loyal service to him. Bonaparte granted amnesty to thousands émigrés, nobles who fled France during the revolution, because they took a loyalty oath and returned to France. Additionally, members of the returning elite soon occupied numerous high positions in France.
In order to gain the support of the middle class Napoleon established the Civil Code or Napoleonic Code in March 1804. The Napoleonic Code included two principles of the revolution; equality of all male citizens before the law, and absolute security of wealth and private property. The Napoleonic Code also took away many rights gained by women during the French revolution. Women relied on either their fathers or their husbands, and they couldn’t have bank accounts or construct contracts in their own names under the Napoleonic Code. Additionally, since Bonaparte believed in a strong centralized government, he declared himself emperor in 1804. Additionally, Napoleon used military victories to keep himself in power.
Napoleon was victorious in war with Austria that ended in 1801 and war with Britain that ended in 1802. Britain and Austria signed a peace treaty at the end of the war that acknowledged an expanded France. Napoleon led his armies to many victories throughout Europe, conquering several countries. Napoleon’s Empire soon became known as the Grand Empire. The Grand Empire he had built had three parts. By 1807 France ruled territory that stretched from Portugal to Italy because of Napoleon’s strong military tactics. The first part of Napoleon’s Empire was an ever-expanding France, which included Belgium, Holland, parts of northern Italy, and a significant portion of German territory by 1810.
The second part of his empire contained dependent satellite kingdoms. The third part of Napoleon’s Empire consisted of the allied independent states of Austria, Prussia, and Russia. Napoleon strength of foreign policies is another significant factor that kept him in power. Under Napoleon, French armies spread nationalism, pride in ones country, to conquered countries which led to some peasants and middle class people supporting him. Through his supporters, Napoleon desired to stay in power but because his armies lived off the land, plundered local treasuries, requested food, and requested supplies; many people in conquered countries disliked him.
Additionally, Napoleon disposed of several European rulers from countries he had conquered and gave their thrones to members of his family which were incapable leaders. Since the members of Napoleon’s family were bad rulers, many members of conquered countries were dissatisfied with his rule. Although Napoleon wasn’t able to satisfy everyone, his spread of nationalism helped him stay in power.
From 1799 to 1815 Napoleon used his foreign policies, great military tactics, and domestic policies to keep himself in power. Napoleon’s strategies throughout his rule proved that his main goal was to keep himself in power. The domestic policies that Napoleon implemented appeased many of the groups I the country which helped keep him I power. During his Reign Napoleon was a brilliant tactician and he defeated armies all over Europe. The strength of Napoleon’s leadership and the Nationalism that followed made other countries citizens desire to be part of his team which contributed to his success.