Napoleaon Bonaparte

Raphael Marcoux
Lawrence Treadwell
AICE European History
Liberty and Equality in France’s Domestic Affairs under Napoleon Bonaparte
The Napoleonic Empire was a significant episode in the long story of French domestic affairs. Following a period of tumultuous change and reforms introduced during the French Revolution, Napoleon sought to increase the efficiency and uniformity of state administration, applying a centralized legal system as part of numerous internal policies that influenced the ideals of liberty and equality in France. These enhancements, however, came at the expense of Napoleon’s authoritarian style of rule, as he was inclined to subjugating women and political opposition.
Following the Coup d’état of 18 Brumaire, Napoleon ascended the political ladder of France ensuing the overthrow of the Directory, as he was designated “consul for life” of the newly established Consulate. His Council of State provided the French people an efficient and orderly government. For instance, Napoleon appointed many departments with prefects in an attempt to administer the various districts of the country, which increased the central government’s control of local affairs. Centralization was complemented by the Napoleonic Code, arguably the most substantial advocate of liberty and equality. It collectively enshrined the equality of all citizens before the law and the abolition of hereditary privileges based on bloodlines. Meritocratic ideals were also incorporated in the civil code, reflecting Napoleon’s motto, “a career open to all talents”. Individuals were permitted to pursue occupations of their choice, as employment in the service of the state would be based on ability rather than on social position or wealth. Rights concerning property were also addressed in the Napoleonic Code, which reassured individuals of their belongings, enabling them to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Following the perception of a “career open to all talents”, the lycées...