Class 10 History

Napoleon Bonaparte

Effect of French Revolution on other parts of Europe

In different cities of Europe, people became motivated from the events in France. As a result, students and other people from the educated middle classes started setting up Jacobin clubs. Their activities made a ground for further encroachment by the French armies. The French army moved into Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and a large part of Italy in the 1790s. Thus, the French armies started carrying the idea of nationalism to foreign lands.

Napoleon becomes Emperor

In due course of time, the orthodox forces took over the liberals and there was a change of rule which resulted in monarchy coming back to France. Napoleon was the Emperor of France from 1804 to 1815. Although Napoleon destroyed democracy in France by reintroducing monarchy in France; but he made revolutionary changes in the field of administration.

Napoleonic Code

The idea was to make the system more rational and efficient. The Civil Code of 1804; which is commonly known as the Napoleonic Code abolished all privileges based on birth. It also established equality before the law and secured the right to property. Even in those territories which came under his control; Napoleon began to introduce many reforms as he did in France.

Reforms by Napoleon

He simplified the administrative divisions in the Dutch Republic, Switzerland, Italy and Germany. He abolished the feudal system and peasants could be freed from serfdom and manorial dues. Guild restrictions were removed in towns. Transport and communication systems were improved.

Reaction of People

Peasants, artisans, workers and new businessmen enjoyed this new found freedom. They could realize that uniform laws and standard system of weights and measures and a common currency would be more helpful in movement and exchange of goods and capital across various regions.

But in areas which were conquered by France, people’s reactions towards French rule were mixed. Initially, the French armies were seen as the torchbearers of liberty. But very soon people could realize that the new administrative system was not going to guarantee political freedom. Increase in taxes, censorship and forced conscription into the French armies were seen as outweighing the advantages of administrative changes which Napoleon brought. Thus the initial enthusiasm of people began to turn into hostility.