Napoleon Bonaparte and Is Modern State

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 340
  • Published : July 21, 2011
Open Document
Text Preview
Bonaparte instituted lasting reforms that mark the transition from absolute government to the modern state. One of Napoleon's greatest contributions was the codification of French law and especially the great Civil Code that replaced the 360 local codes of the Ancient Regime. It was a combination of the egalitarianism of the Revolution and the authoritarianism of Napoleon. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified. It was, however, the first modern legal code to be adopted with a pan-European scope and it strongly influenced the law of many of the countries formed during and after the Napoleonic Wars. The Code was a major step in replacing the previous patchwork of feudal laws. The old paternal authority within the family was restored, for instance, while women's rights were strictly limited - Napoleon once remarked that “women should stick to knitting'. However, the achievements of the Revolution were continued with guarantees of equality, property rights and the rights of the citizen won in 1789. Published in a small compact edition in 1810, it became a model for legal rationalisation in many other states of Europe. One feature which was greatly to affect the future of France was the insistence on equal division of estates between sons. Napoleon also had to shape public opinion -- this was accomplished by crude forms of propaganda, but more importantly by the use of secret agents, arbitrary arrests, and executions. Like all dictators -- we think of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin -- Napoleon relied on public opinion to prevent hostile criticism. In other words, dissent was nearly impossible. Printers and booksellers swore oaths of allegiance and all newspapers fell under state control. So, by repressing liberty, subverting republicanism and restoring absolutism, Napoleon reversed some of the liberal gains of the Revolution. He favored equality before the law and careers open...
tracking img