The French Revolution is the term given to a period of great change in France. The period between 1789 and 1799 was defined by social and political turmoil. The key result of this revolution was France’s transformation from a monarchy to a republic.
The Revolution, with its liberal and tremendously radical ideas made a big impact on modern history, triggering the decline of the absolute monarchy and the advent of a republic and liberal democracy globally.
Napoleon was born in Corsica as a member of minor nobility. After completing his education in 1784, Napoleon was admitted into the army, training as an artillery office. He rose to prominence in the French Revolution, during the reign of the Directory.
The political unrest, war, and financial disaster which had effected the French people pushed him to return to France where he was greeted as a hero, despite an unsuccessful campaign in Egypt. He later launched a coup, successfully overthrowing the Directory and becoming the next ruler of France.
Napoleon’s Impact On The Revolution
Napoleon brought the stability to France that the Frenchmen craved after the turmoil which defined the previous years. His military career may have been the reason for his rise to fame, but he proved his political ability in the years of his rule. By successfully included the aims of the revolution into his rule successfully appeasing the revolutionaries. He outlined his laws and the rights of the French citizens in the constituent which become known as the Code of Napoleon. He also made peace with the Church using the Concordat, which recognized the religion of France to be Catholicism, though it did not return all of their power, privileges or land.
Napoleon stabilized the economic situation by aiding the industries with tariffs and loans, establishing the Bank of France, and accepting people into careers based on merit not birth; a factor which had led the French men to revolt in the first place.
While Napoleon did indeed bring a lot of positive change to France there is some debate over whether the stability he achieved was a result of his laws, and people’s acceptance of them, or his control. He continued to censor the media, maintained control over France by giving himself the power to veto political decisions made by the governing bodies, and having a significant amount of support from the military. This control may have discouraged, or even made unrest impossible, and as such it makes people spectacle about his power over France. He later went as far as to declare himself the Emperor of France, which may have defeated the revolutionary’s goal to destroy one man’s ability to maintain absolute control.
Despite the historical debate over his rule, there is no doubt that after the violent turmoil France underwent during the Reign of Terror and the Directory, Napoleon was a welcomed change.