To what extent are Napoleon's reforms in France under the consulate (1799-1804) explained by his need to secure himself in power?

Essay by fred5000cheatHigh School, 12th grade June 2005

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After the French Revolution and before, France was a chaotic place. During Napoleon's reign as first consul France's situation Internationally and domestically improved dramatically; however great this may sound some Historians argue that the restoration of France was only a secondary part of Napoleon's policy, they argue that his main policy was in securing his power. At the time Napoleon was called the 'child of the revolution' however his own policies were far removed from the romanticism of the Revolution, they had more to do with despotism. His policies were far harsher and he shared a gloomy view of humanity akin to that of the philosopher Voltaire and of the 'ancien régime' from which the revolution had tried to brake away. However Napoleon had none of the obstacles the 'ancien régime' had to contend with, all he had to worry about was keeping on the right side of any revolutionary ideas.

Napoleon's longest standing reforms were his changes to the legal system; most of his civil code reforms are still active in present day France. His reforms involved solving the problems with the unification of France, before Napoleon the laws were confusing and differed depending on the department or town. Inside this new legal system Napoleon introduced the plebiscites as a form of democratic decision-making, which was corrupted by propaganda. His new laws unified all laws in France and were called the Napoleonic codes or code Napoleon. These laws were mainly used to make France more efficient, and didn't specifically aid him in securing power; apart from the plebiscites, which were specifically designed to secure power and incorporated the new legal codes into this deception. The laws were largely the product of Napoleon's work, he sat down with a committee of legal experts for 100's of sessions, and they represented...