Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

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In the waning days of the Convention in the fall of 1795, royalist–influenced sections in Paris revolted to prevent a new constitution that protected the position of the radicals. Bonaparte was delegated to put down the uprising of 5 October 1795…

Having seized power through the coup of 18 Brumaire [9 November 1799], Bonaparte—now First Consul—set out to win public support for yet another new government. His first public pronouncement was the proclamation reprinted below, in which he…

The Council of Five–Hundred, the lower house of the legislature under the Directory’s constitution, put up only token resistance to the coup of 18 Brumaire [9 November 1799]. By the following day, this body—in principle, made up of the…

In his memoirs, André François Miot de Melito, a special minister from the French government to Piedmont, tells of his first impressions of the young Napoleon Bonaparte, who was only twenty-seven but already an important general because of his…

Napoleon glosses over the conspiracy to overthrow the Constitution of 1795 and the duly elected legislature. This conspiracy was organized in part by his younger brother Lucien. He does, however, admit that some of the deputies opposed his endeavor…

Naming his brother Lucien to the key post of minister of the interior, Bonaparte quickly moved to establish his political control over the country. He set up “prefects” for every administrative region known as a department; these appointees had…

One of Napoleon’s first priorities was to reestablish good relations with the papacy, which had fought the revolutionary church settlement tooth and nail. Napoleon gained everything he desired in the Concordat: he appointed the bishops and…

Klemens von Metternich, head of the Austrian government and therefore a sharp critic of Napoleon, reported that Napoleon viewed Catholicism in largely utilitarian, even cynical terms.

Despite the official settlement with the papacy, some priests refused to bury those who had supported the pro–revolutionary wing of the church in the 1790s and others preached royalism from the pulpit. These excerpts come from a report made to the…

The oath that Bonaparte took on becoming consul for life gives a good idea of the image that he tried to project: protector of the gains of the Revolution and insurer of order. In retrospect, his claims about not wishing to make war ring hollow.
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