From 1800-1815 one man held the center of the European stage. Coming to the
head of affairs in a France stirred to its depths by tremendous upheaval of
the Revolution, Napolean Bonaparte was able for fifteen years to direct
France back to its feet. For about ten years he met with continual success
and displayed combinations of military and adminisrative which has probably
never been equalled. In the end he was destroyed by the same force that had
brought him into his high power (the force of national patriotism), that from
1800-1808 made the armies of France unstoppable, but from 1808-1815 raised
up, first in Spain, then in Austria, Russia, and finally in Germany.
Napolean was the first Consul of France. The Constitution of the Year 1800
provided for three consuls and a tribunate and legislative body designated by
the Senate from the general election list. The first Consul ran the
administrative and foreign policies, was in charge of the army, and proposed
all the laws. This Consul was the real power. Napoleon was this Consul.
Napoleon immediately gave all his attention to the foreign problem of the
Second Coalition. Napoleon got Russia to withdraw and revive an Armed
Neutrality against Great Britain. Napolean's win at Marengo in Italy and
Moreau's win at Hohenlinden in Germany forced Austria to sue for peace. The
Treaty of Luneville in 1801 strengthened Campo Formio. Even though Great
Britain had won the Battle of the Nile in 1798 and had broken up the Amed
Neutrality in 1801, she couldn't conquer France, so she signed the Treaty of
Amiens in 1801, which was really only a truce.
With the foreign problems settled for now, Napoleon turned his attention to
internal reforms. The reforms under the Consulate are the most permanent of
all Napoleon's contributions.
Napoleon guarenteed equal rights, equal justice, equal opportunity, and the
continued abolition of privilege. It was only in the political sphere that
Napoleon dinied liberty.
The government was completely centralized with its division of departments,
arrondissements, and prefects making its officials directly responsible to
the central government at Paris.