Napoleon Series Archive 2015

Re: Napoleon's Government
In Response To: Napoleon's Government ()

As you inaccurately have stated, ‘On 10 November 1799, General Napoleon Bonaparte carried out his coup d’etat in Paris, essentially becoming the military dictator of France’ which has been correctly disproven by Thierry Lentz, in an eloquent and accurate article. Unfortunately, that inaccurate statement typifies anything that you may say about Napoleon and his government. It is a poor place to begin.

Although you're posting in response to me, I can't tell if you're actually responding to me or not, since I didn't post that. I'm not sure to whom you're responding. But in any event, if I understand you correctly, that is an argument about an opinion, correct? (Whether or not to apply the word "dictator" to Napoleon after 1799?) That wasn't the topic of my post, nor this thread, so I'll refrain from commenting in order to avoid derailing the discussion.

If Napoleon insisted on honesty in his officials, and he did, then it would not be logical that he would personally be corrupt.

Again, I believe you're confusing my post with someone else's, since I was the person who said that Napoleon probably did not personally enrich himself... after all, what need would he have had to do so?

I would suggest that you might find contrary information in The Napoleonic Revolution by Robert Holtman... From Holtman:

'[Napoleon's] government's fiscal policy was, on the whole, one of the triumphs of Napoleon's career, and an achievement that has had a lasting impact.'-99 '[Napoleon's] later budgets were rarely balanced, but the consolidated debt of France remained relatively small, particularly in comparison with that of England, and amounted to only 60 million francs in 1814.'-100

Yes, I have Holtman's books, as you know from our previous discussions, but I'm not sure what those quotes about the budget have to do with the many examples of corruption. Indeed, since all the quotes that you included have to do with currency, finance, and budget, and none have to do with corruption - which was the topic of the thread - I think that you must be mistakenly responding to posts by someone else?

Such generals as Davout, Berthier, Bessieres, Eble, Serurier, Gourgaud, Rapp.... honest and honorable men. Massena, Soult, Augereau, and others might loot, but that cannot be said for the whole of the French general officers.

Well, in the case of Rapp, as noted in the thread above, I just came across evidence of him taking at least one bribe - as noted above. I can provide the citation if you like. But of course we weren't dealing with opinions, or at least I wasn't. Rather, numerous examples were presented, and have been presented by many historians, of French officers taking bribes, sometimes, interestingly, in order to do something contrary to Napoleon's instructions. (For example: an officer might be ordered by Napoleon to burn a town, kill or arrest civilians, etc, but the locals bribe him to do otherwise.) I've recently come across two examples of that, and I can provide the citations if you like, although in all fairness, I'd like to know in advance whether or not those, or any examples of specific facts would change your opinion. Because if no amount of facts will ever change your opinion, then it's not fair to keep asking people to present you with facts.

Josephine was not part of the government even though she was Empress.

As noted above, she collaborated with government officials such as Reinhard, and you yourself made me aware of her interference in army contracts. I presume that the army officials she dealt with, were part of the "government" ?

What material have you looked at from senior officials in Hamburg?

Quite a bit. I spent a month in the city/state archive there, researching this period, as you know. If you were interested in doing research there, I could assist you in finding the Bestände relevant to this period, although there are current historians who have been there more recently than I have, such as Katherine Aaslestad, who might be better able to direct you there.

What about looking into the Gendarmerie and the Douaniers?

Indeed. A very important subject. I'm no expert on the French Gendarmerie, but I've learned a lot about it in recent years because of my work on Westphalia and the setting-up of the Westphalian Gendarmerie along the French model. There are quite a lot of sources on this, but they tend to be scattered. (For example, I found the records for the Hanoverian gendarmerie (during the French occupation of Hannover) in the special collections dept. of the University Library in Hannover. An utterly fascinating cache of documents. Only about 700 pages survived the flood in 1946, after which they were moved from the regional archive.

As for the Douanes, yes, I used a lot of their records in the city/state archive in Hamburg in the 1990s when I was researching the Hanse cities for my first book.

Where is the material from others in Hamburg?

What others, specifically?

You have not demonstrated that you understand the French administration in Hamburg

If you would be so kind, could you please direct me to the relevant files in the Hamburg archives, from which I might get a better understanding of the subject?

In the interest of brevity, could you please just limit your response to the specific archival collections in Hamburg to which you are referring? Research time is precious, so I want to make sure that I get a look at this evidence while I'm still in Germany.

It's not necessary to offer more excerpts of opinions from English-language secondary sources that deal with other subjects. It would probably be more productive just to stick to facts.

...or Napoleon and his governemtn as a whole, and are ready to condemn it as ‘corrupt’ using sweeping statements instead of careful research. Overriding everything you do in this period is your stated belief that Napoleon was corrupt, and that just wasn’t the case.

I think you might be mistakenly responding to someone else again, since I am unable to find the passages to which you are referring, among my posts.

Lastly, there is certainly no understanding of the Grande Armee displayed, nor of its commanders, lower ranking officers, and the troops they led. And by not knowing or understanding it, and then commenting on those who led it into the fire for over twenty years, incorrect information is being presented.

Could you please state, specifically, which of the facts that I presented was "incorrect" ? Since I offered a number of examples with specific citations, I would be very interested to know specifically which of those citations was incorrect, and how, specifically, you determined that.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

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