It seems impossible to write about Napoleon without adding some allegorical dimensions to his personal life or his physical appearance. The main obstacle that we can find in trying to estimate what was the impact of Napoleon in France and Europe isthe power of his legend, which have survived to the time of Consulate until our days. Too much haven been written during all these years about his personal life, the battles he won on his way to conquest Europe and how he died, as if he wasn’t part of the French Revolution. Notwithstanding, we can’t understand Napoleon’s trajectory outside the French Revolution, he was part of the FrenchRevolution, his relationship with that legacy was the determining feature of his career in the sense that all he left us and which conform the modern state are part of the Revolution too. The revolutionary ideals of freedom and equality, the notion of popular sovereignty, the goal of rational administration and the rule of law, the liberation of Europe from feudal oppression, and above all the poisonedlegacy of war1. Nevertheless, the matter is what Napoleon did with the ideas of the Revolution, as the modern state in where we live now can`t be conceived without the legacy of the Revolution and Napoleon, whose impact was not only important in France, even when he sometimes refuses to his past and subordinate to his personal ambitions: he used the state for his own benefit, as it was the perfecttool for success in his dictatorship, negating the idea of democracy even when he emphasized the concept of popular sovereign. In any case, Bonaparte was described as the founder of the modern states, so in that point we can’t say that he didn’t execute the ideas of Revolution and moreover, his régime was also the fulfillment of the bourgeois Revolution of 1789 – 992. Despite of that fact,historiography still struggling about when did the French Revolution died: for some in 1794 when the revolutionary terror effectively ended, for others the Revolution ended when Bonaparte seized power in the Coup of Brumaire Year 8 – an interpretation which sees the Napoleonic period as totally reactionary. Perhaps it ended in 1815, when the Bourbon monarchy was definitely restored or a case can be madefor a closing date somewhere in between, such as 1804, when Napoleon was crowned hereditary Emperor, or 1808, when he
M. Lyons. Napoleon Bonaparte and the legacy of the French Revolution. (London, 1994). Page 296 M. Lyons. Napoleon Bonaparte and the legacy of the French Revolution. (London, 1994). Page 296
created the new imperial nobility, or 1812, when Bonaparte pushed the Frencharmy to its destruction in the depths of Russia3. Considering that, how far did Napoleon dissipate the legacy of the revolution? Did he annihilate it or, otherwise, develop it? Napoleon must be studied as a part of the Revolution; he consolidated the triumph of the bourgeoisie. He also represented a political system based on a strong govern, in which the authority must be sought in directconsultation with the electorate. The basis of the new state, which was born during the Revolution, were the army and the professional bureaucracy. However, Napoleonic dictatorship was not a military one; its power was derived from different and repeated consultation with the popular support, in fact, the transition from the Directory to the Consulate and the Empire couldn’t be conceived without the consentof the social French classes; Napoleon’s was the first French government since 1971 to accede the power without recourse to a violent purge4. When Napoleon came to power, his main goal was to modernize the new state inheritance from the Revolution building new institutions which would bring new forms of equality of opportunities. The new society he was trying to develop in France, and then in...