The Waterloo Association: Members Area

Get Involved:

Facebook Twitter Email
The Napoleon Series > Government > Governments and Politics

Decree for raising Conscripts

January 23 1808

During the Revolution France originally raised her armies employing the levée en masse enacted in 1793 as a one-time expedient. Conscription was first introduced in France in 1798 with the Jourdan-Delbrel Law (Loi Jourdan). The law required all single men who reached twenty years of age in a particular year (called a "class") to be eligible for conscription for five years. Conscriptees were chosen by ballot in their localities. The law of 26 Aug. 1805 recognized the reality of paid substitutions, placing the burden of conscription increasingly on the poorer classes. With modifications, the Jourdan-Delbrel Law remained the basis of army recruiting in France throughout the nineteenth century. Estimates of the number conscripted range from around one and a half million to 3 and a half million. As many as half a million potential conscripts evaded the draft or deserted. Conscription was one of the most divisive issues in Napoleonic France.


The conservatory senate assembled to the number of members presented by act 90, of the act of the constitution of the 22d of Frimaire, year 8, having considered the project of the senatus consultum, drawn in the form prescribed by article 57 of the constitutional act of the 16th Thermidor, year 16. - After having heard on the motives of the said project, the orators of the council of state, and the report of the special commission nominated in the sitting of the16th of this month; the adoption having been discussed with the number of voices prescribed by article 56 of the organic senatus consultum of the 18th of Thermidor, year 10, decrees as follows:

  1. Article 1. Eighty thousand conscripts of the conscription of the year 1809 are placed at the disposal of government.
  2. They shall be taken from among the youths born between the 1st of Jan. 1789, and Jan. 1, 1790.
  3. They shall be employed, should there be occasion to complete the legions of reserve of the interior, and the regiment having their depots in France. - The present senatus consultum shall be transmitted to his imperial and royal majesty.

We require and command, that these presents, sanctioned by the seals of state, and inserted in the Bulletin des Loix, shall be addressed to the courts and tribunals, and administrative authorities, that they may be inserted in their respective registers, and observed; and our grand judge, the minister of justice, is charged to superintend the publication.



The Annual Register, or, A View of the History, Politics, and Literature for the Year 1808. London: Printed by R. Wilks for W. Otridge and Sons, etal. (Publisher varies by year.) Published for the years 1758-1837 in 80 vols.; illus., maps; 21ᆫ cm. Alternate titles for some years include: Annual Register, or, a View of the History and Politics of the Year... and New Annual Register, or General Repository of History, Politics, and Literature, for the Year... Succeeded by: Annual Register of World Events.



Placed on the Napoleon Series: October 2000


Legislation Index