Ars Bellica


With the coup of 18 Brumaire (9 November 1799) Napoleon presented himself as a man capable of restoring stability and order in France and offer a way out of the unresolved tensions postrivolutionary. During the Consulate, he wanted to be the heir and continuer of the revolution, or more precisely of those pragmatic institutional instances renewal that had been placed since 1789, and they had struggled to consolidate into a solid legislative structures. Were root then, the modern bureaucratic state and central laws, which were later spread in most of Europe and that will give a lasting imprint to the administrative and judicial apparatus. If we just think on the figure of the prefect, whose authority was placed at the head of the departments in 1800, which became a model adopted by many European state realities. The Civil Code of 1804, known as the Napoleonic Code, was exported to almost all Europe as the basis of new social relations based on equality and legal certainty on the property. During the Empire Napoleon led France to continental expansion that for about a decade appeared unstoppable. With the victory of Austerlitz, Jena and Friedland, the French armies altered the political map of Europe, making it useless to oppose the attempts made up by a number of coalitions in which pledged Austria, Prussia, Russia and Great Britain. Directly with the annexations or indirectly with the satellites kingdoms, mostly ruled by members of his family, Napoleon kept under control half Europe. The military impact power is not the only reason that could explain the sudden successes of France. It counted not just the consensus that Napoleon won in the conquered countries, where elites offered the opportunity to strengthen their leadership role as part of a policy of efficiency and renewal. He was, in fact, the architect of a significant effort and long-lasting rejuvenation and rationalization of the states, which served to compensate, but certainly not to hide, strong prices paid everywhere: the loss of autonomy, oppressive taxation, economic subordination to the French interests. Is it right to think that this Napoleonic era recovered the scattered threads of enlightened absolutism and the more moderate aspects of the revolution, using them as weapons against the old monarchical and aristocratic Europe. This explains so events such as the formation of a new ruling class, which will engaged at the top of the state in the next age of the Restoration, and the permanence of the Napoleonic laws even after 1814. For the Napoleonic Empire the transition from the apogees to total collapse was rapid. The first difficulty was the Spanish resistance that is expressed in an exhausting guerrilla supported by the British Army. The terrible disaster of the Russian campaign, in which perished half a million soldiers of the Grand Armeè, re-launched the anti-French alliance that after the victory of Napoleon at Leipzig in 1813, dissolved the French imperial system and led to the conquest of Paris in March of 1814. The fall of the empire, the retreat of Napoleon on Elba, returning to Paris in the Hundred Days that prepared the decisive confrontation, and finally the Battle of Waterloo followed by his exile to St. Helena, were the culmination of an era in which the monarchies of Europe, gathered in Vienna in 1814, attempted to oppose a return to the pre-revolutionary.



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