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How far did Napoleon establish a dictatorship in France

To first be able to decide whether Napoleon established a dictatorship and whether he himself was a dictator it is important to define the characteristics of a dictator. The definition of a dictator is “usually and unelected omnipotent ruler” or a “domineering person”. Dictatorship is also often associated with repression with “machinery of state police”; which includes violation of civil liberties, suppression of political opponents and a secret police. These features were present in Napoleon’s France, I think that Napoleon firmly established a dictatorship in France.Napoleon’s position in France as first consul and then emperor allowed him to be seen as the head of the state, this meant that he was in control of most matters, the title of emperor portrays him as a dictator – it shows him as the head of the country.Napoleon also led a very centralized government and administration, he enforced strict censorship – he closed down most of the Paris newspapers, and those that were allowed to remain open were not allowed to discuss sensitive political reports. Government reports on those issues were issued, which meant that they could portray an image that they wanted rather than one that was correct. All books also had to be approved as well as theatres and plays, so anything that Napoleon did not want heard, was not, this would mean that the people would not know of his ‘blunders’ and would support him blindly.Then there is the question of “machinery of police state”, Napoleon set up a centralized police system Joseph Fouch�. The function of this was to monitor all suspicious individuals and o estimate and report on the popular mood, and thus predict any threat to public order. However, Napoleon did not want Fouch� to have too much power, so he set up the Paris police force, which was run by L.N. Dubois, they also kept a check on Fouch�. And then he had his own special spies to spy on everybody including Dubois. This showed that Napoleon was power hungry, he did not want anyone else to have nearly as much power as him, and did not want anybody to do anything that was seen by him as wrong – a purely authoritarian quality.It is arguable that Napoleon made some reforms that were beneficial to the country; setting up lyc�es was seen as one of them. Although some believe that secondary education was available to all, that is not true, the lyc�es were quite expensive, which restricted it to anyone above the middle class and sons of officers. The material taught in the lyc�es was what Napoleon wanted to be learnt; it trained students to serve the state in their adult life. The poor could not afford to educate their children and girls weren’t entitled to go to them. Napoleon set up the schools to spread his ideas, proving him as controlling, a characteristic of a good dictatorial leader.It is also claimed that all reforms were put through a plebiscite to decided whether they would be put into action, however, the plebiscites were rigged to show great popularity for the reforms when it was not the case. Also, the judges were supposed to be elected by the general public, but they were in reality picked by Napoleon himself. Napoleon wanted to be in charge of, and control everything.Also, the local prefects (intendants) were to be elected by the general public, however this was not actually the case as Napoleon had lists of people that could be elected, this meant that nobody that he didn’t believe would portray his ideas was not on the list, hence could not be elected.This was also the case with ‘the Council of State’, ‘the Senate’, ‘the Tribunate’, and ‘the Legislative Body’ – all the people elected were in reality chosen by Napoleon, and then put through rigged plebiscites. This meant that all the people had to answer to Napoleon and was where they got their money from, so they agreed with his ideas and did what they thought he wanted done. So all these bodies that could place restrictions of Napoleon would not because he manipulated them also.In his ‘rule’, women were also deemed as inferior to men, this went against the idea of the revolution, which was supposed to be what he was following. Women were told to “stick to knitting” and thought of as nothing more that “machines for producing children”. The state schools were not for girls; it was not thought that education was useful for them. He pushed his ideas onto the whole population of France, and expected them to abide by them.However, some say that Napoleon was really a follower of the revolution and quite a democrat, his reforms of the Church and religion brought about toleration of religion. But this too was done to gain more popularity and support. Also, the Pope had not agreed to the Organic Articles, which stated that there were equal rights for other religious minorities, and this showed clear treachery in the part of Napoleon. And the motive of the Concordat was to gain more support throughout France, and to make sure there were fewer organizations that would try to overthrow him.Also, Napoleon ‘bought’ all the clerical workers as they were now under his pay and if they were to speak out against him they would not be paid. The bishops and priests were elected by him also to make sure that his ideas were pushed across in Church. He also had prayers said for him, which showed that he was trying to take place of God in their hearts. He also had himself christened a saint, and had a holiday after him. He wanted to be everywhere, he wanted to be God.The only reforms that Napoleon made that were not directly beneficial to him were the tax reforms (although there was an increase in indirect tax – the greater burden of which fell on the poor rather than the rich) and the abolishment of feudalism, but that too was done to gain more popularity, and if it had not been done the peasants would not have let him remain in power.Not only did Napoleon betray the revolution, he became a totalitarian and turned France into ‘his’ empire. He never did anything, which would not help him gain more power, or suppress any danger of him being overthrown. In some ways he was worse than Louis, in the way that Louis had bodies that restricted his power, such as the parlements, but Napoleon was the ruler of all the bodies. And if they spoke out against him he could dismiss them. He contained all political opposition to his regime and made sure that he was the leader of the country that nobody spoke out against.I firmly believe that napoleon established a strict dictatorship in France, and himself was the dictator of that regime.

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