Reforms of Napoleon

Reforms by Napoleon

Napoleon was against the concept of Liberty as he believed that due to mismanaged liberty France could not build itself strongly after the revolution.

1. Economic reforms

  1. Bank of France was founded in 1803 which monopolised the issuance of currency.
  2. Tax collection was made centralised.
  3. On account of corruption and indiscipline guilds were abolished.
  4. Industrial committee was setup to look into the disputes between labours and merchants.

2. Education reforms

  1. Primary schools were completely under the commune control (not government)
  2. Secondary schools were under direct central government control where Latin, French and Greek were taught.
  3. High schools were also under the government control for providing higher education.
  4. Vocational and military schools were set up for non-academic talents.
  5. Teachers training centres were opened and high performing teachers were rewarded by the government.

3. Socio-cultural reforms

  1. Policy of conciliation where emigres and non-juring were sympathetically treated.
  2. Public offices were thrown open to all.
  3. Concordat: this was an agreement with the Pope in 1801, wherein Catholicism was recognised as the “religion of the great majority of the French people” and the right of public worship and right to religious freedom was granted to the Catholic Church and French people. Bishops will be nominated by the state.
  4. Brigandage was stopped which encouraged open trade.

4. Politico-Administrative reforms

  1. France was made a modern state based on equality, rule of law and secularism.
  2. New civil service called as Auditeur was created.
  3. Elected councils in the local administration were removed by the nominated members.

5. Napoleonic Code or Civil Code of 1804

  • Previously, every region or province of France had a new law and order conditions. Voltaire once commented that, “man traveling across France changes laws as often as he changed horses”.
  • Code called for rights such as freedom of speech, public trials, freedom of worship and freedom of occupation. It denied any benefits on the basis of birth and made qualification important for public jobs.
  • It respected old family traditions, private ownership of property.
  • This code was widely accepted in many European nations and it helped in building new nation states.

In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte was declared as the Emperor of France by the senate and remained in that position till 1814. This was constitutional monarchy but with a difference that Emperor this time had no right over the land of France as with the previous Bourbon dynasty.

Why a constitutional monarchy?

  • People of France were fed up with the consistent disability in the political corridors. Every then and now there was change in the constitution or head of the government. They simply wanted stable polity to gain on stable economy.
  • Secondly, stable polity could ensure safety and security of France from within and outside.
  • Prolonged wars with European counterparts laid down insecure environment for French people who were looking for peace and brotherhood.
  • Napoleon won the trust of masses through his indomitable and decisive leadership as First Counsel and military commander. People were delighted to hand over the power to a single person without a doubt.
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