Although probably not motivated by personal religious conviction, he did believe that good relations with the Catholic Church were essential to maintaining order and guaranteeing his own legitimacy. Some conflicts over religion continued, but the pope had granted Napoleon more or less everything he wanted in exchange for bringing France back into the Catholic fold. Napoleon reaffirmed the principle of religious toleration for Protestants, who were organized in a number of consistories under state control. After 1804 the state paid the salaries of Protestant pastors, just as it paid those of Catholic priests. In 1806 Napoleon organized French Jews into a system of government-supervised consistories like those that regulated Protestant worship. He did everything possible to encourage Jewish assimilation to French ways. As was typical of Napoleon, he hoped to guarantee law and order by organizing all the groups in society under state control.

At the same time that these important restructurings of the state and its relations with France's main religions were taking place, Napoleon won great prestige by coming to terms first with Austria in 1801, which had resumed the struggle in 1799, and then making peace with Britain, Spain, and the Dutch Republic in 1802, ending a decade of nearly nonstop war. Peace gave him the breathing room to send an army to Saint Domingue to reestablish slavery in the colonies and capture Toussaint L'Ouverture; even though the army captured Toussaint and sent him to die in a French prison, Napoleon's army succumbed to yellow fever and to the tenacity of the former slaves, who established the Republic of Haiti and severed all connections with France. Although the peace in Europe proved short-lived too, it gave Napoleon time to have himself declared Consul for Life in a referendum in 1802.

By the end of 1802, the Republic had essentially ceased to exist and a new authoritarian state was taking shape. Elections no longer had much meaning. Napoleon set up a Legion of Honor to reward military and bureaucratic service to his state. It was the embryo of a new nobility. Newspapers were suppressed, unruly theaters closed, and critical authors sent into exile. Finally, the new direction became clear: on 2 December 1804, Napoleon crowned himself Emperor with the pope watching. A new civil code consolidated revolutionary legislation by confirming all the sales of property undertaken since 1789 and guaranteeing equality under the law. But the Napoleonic Code also installed a more paternalistic legal system than that envisioned by the revolutionaries: husbands and fathers gained nearly complete control over their wives and children, and employers wielded great authority over their workers. Even while confirming some of the legal gains of the revolutionary decade, Napoleon labored assiduously to cultivate the loyalties of those who had suffered during the Revolution such as the old regime nobility. In some large measure, he succeeded.

Emperor Napoleon I had created a new kind of hybrid state in which certain revolutionary ideas (equality under the law, careers open to merit rather than birth, the abolition of the remains of feudalism) were combined with an authoritarian state structure and a new nobility open to those who served the state well. As time passed, Napoleon increasingly emulated the court of the old regime monarchy. He hoped to take his place among the legitimate monarchs of Europe and even married a Habsburg to establish his credentials. Although this hybrid state enjoyed broad support among the French people, neither the state nor the popular support survived defeat in war.

Foreign Policies and War

Napoleon's dramatic rise and fall depended from beginning to end on his fortunes at war. His unexpected successes in Italy in 1796–97 made him an instant legend, both among the French people at home and among his soldiers in the Army of Italy. Yet from the very start of his ascent, overreaching ambition proved to be a potentially fatal flaw. When Napoleon returned from Italy in 1797, the Directory government wanted to send him off to invade England, mainly to get him out of town. Napoleon convinced them that an invasion of Egypt would suit their purposes better, for it would open the route to India where Great Britain had earlier expelled the French and established an important empire. Napoleon focused his ambition on Egypt because of its historical importance, not because it was a viable strategic objective: "We must go to the Orient," he insisted. "It is there that great glory has always been gained." His search for glory nearly ended his career.

Napoleon invaded Egypt in early July 1798 on the pretense that he was reasserting the Ottoman sultan's authority there against the local Mameluke rulers. In the Battle of the Pyramids outside Cairo, Napoleon's soldiers smashed the Mameluke cavalry. It was one of the few glorious moments of the Egyptian campaign. He was so confident of his ultimate success that he brought with him scores of scientists, engineers, and archaeologists to study the treasures and riches of the Orient.

 
 

COMMEMORATING A SUCCESS

       

RUTHLESS REPRESSION

       
 

CONSULAR AUTHORITY

 

NOW EMPEROR

 
 
   

NAPOLEONIC LAW 

 
   
   

RECONCILIATION WITH THE NOBILITY

COURT LIFE

 

POPULAR SUPPORT?

 
     
   

VOTER APATHY

 
     
 
   

EGYPT WILL BE OURS!

 
     
 

NAPOLEON APPEASES

     

EGYPTIAN REACTION

     
   
 
 

1 2 3 4