The first French Empire is also widely known as the Napoleonic Empire or simply as the French Empire . It was a sovereign state whose territory included much of central and western Europe. It also had various colonial domains such as Overseas France and satellite states. What was the first French empire?
It covers the entire period of what was known as the Napoleonic Era, which goes from the coronation of Napoleon I as emperor in 1804 until his retirement and exile in 1814 .
How was the beginning of the First French Empire?
By 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in France through a military coup. The first French Empire, which became known as the Napoleonic Empire, marked the end of years of fighting in the unleashed French Revolution . Napoleon managed to restore peace through military victories and diplomatic negotiations, managing to neutralize the adversaries of France.
In this area, one of the aspects that stands out the most was the peace agreement that was signed with England in 1802. This agreement ended periods of conflict, increasing its prestige. By 1804, two years after becoming consul for life, Napoleon Bonaparte was authorized to assume the role of Emperor of France through a plebiscite.
What was the Napoleonic Code of the First French Empire?
The French civil code that was published on March 21, 1804 and which became known as the Napoleonic Code , allowed the consolidation of the power of the bourgeoisie. This document undoubtedly marked and characterized the First French Empire . It had two thousand articles, of which only seven talked about work and about eight hundred about private property. Unions and strikes were prohibited, but employers’ associations were allowed to be created. This code was made by and for the bourgeoisie , that is, by property owners to protect property. What was the first French empire?
Through this Code, the revolutionary spirit that the bourgeoisie had was consolidated . There was economic and personal freedom, individual character of property, equality before the law, civil marriage and divorce. In addition, it was the clear evidence of the complete separation between the State and the Church, since religious laws no longer had a place where the State was concerned.
Scope of the Napoleonic Wars in the First French Empire
The Napoleonic Wars caused many territorial changes on the European map. Napoleon dreamed of leading France to be a hegemonic power throughout Europe and to dominate a vast territory. As a consequence of his great aspirations, the Confederation of the Rhine was constituted and, in general, the regions dominated by Napoleon became faithful governments to the French emperor. In this way his influence was increasing more and more.
The magnanimous emperor achieved great victories in central Europe , because his military power was superior. But this evident superiority on land was not reciprocated at sea. His main enemy, England, was more powerful than France.
The Continental Blockade against England
With an experienced fleet and a developed economy, England was a solid rival to France. In order to defeat them, Napoleon sets in motion what was known as the Continental Blockade , with which he cut off trade in all the ports of Europe for the English . His plan was to cause the ruin of England and then invade the island. What was the first French empire?
Countries that were under the influence of the emperor were forced not to trade with England. While those who were neutral were threatened with an alleged invasion. The only nation that resisted the blockade was Portugal because it was an ally of England.
Finally, the Continental Blockade was a failure , although it harmed the commercial relations of England, they managed to subsist by maintaining trade with Portugal and India . On the other hand, the turbulent Spanish situation made England press the Cortes of Cádiz to allow free trade in the Spanish American colonies, considerably expanding the market.
Fall of the First French Empire
A set of external defeats, in addition to police repression and the censorship of those who criticized the government; they made Napoleon lose popularity in France by 1810 . The defeat that affected Napoleon and his army the most was in Russia. They tried to occupy this country for the year 1812 when the Tsar did not obey the continental blockade and began to trade with England.
A clever strategy was practiced in Moscow in which, before they were invaded by the French, they intentionally evicted and burned everything. In this way, when the French arrived, there was no shelter or food left to regain strength. When they retired to France during the winter, both cold and famine and some sporadic Russian attack caused thousands of French to die.
Shortly after, on the other side of the Empire, Spain accompanied by England achieved the defeat of José I. forcing the French to leave the Iberian Peninsula. After these failures Austria and Prussia, absolutist powers, join England to finally defeat Napoleon Bonaparte . That is why by the year 1814 he was forced to resign and go into exile to the Island of Elba.
What was the government of the Hundred Days?
Although he had lost all his power over France and was in exile, Napoleon did not feel finished. The return of the nobles who emigrated during the revolution, requested to recover their possessions and privileges. These circumstances provide the ideal climate for the inquisitive emperor to return. He escapes from the island of Elba , regains his power coming to rule during a period called the government of the Hundred Days. What was the first French empire?
This was how long Bonaparte’s return to France lasted, one hundred days. He is defeated again in the Battle of Waterloo , by different European countries. They take him into exile again, this time on the island of Santa Elena , in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where he dies around 1821.