During the French Revolution the years of 1799-1815, France was ruled by Napoleon Bonaparte. Although many people feel that Napoleon is one of dictatorship, the truth is he one for the country and did what he felt was in the best interest of France. Napoleon was a democratic leader for his country. By studying his role in education, the political aspects, and the social aspects of France, one can see he did good for the country although not everything was perfect, there is no perfect person or Utopia. Napoleon set out to make France the greatest nation of Europe, and education was one of the top priorities on his list.
Since Napoleon believed in a system of merit not one of family hierarchy, he felt everyone needed to be educated. The government was getting numerous complaints regarding the lack of schools in many areas, lack of professionalism among the teachers, lack of discipline and attendance by students and, in a few areas, lack of religious education (Markham 5). The problem with religious education was partially resolved by the Concordat between Napoleon and the Pope. Religious elementary schools had opened but mostly for girls. Napoleon felt that girls and boys didn’t need the same education.
Girls needed domestic skills, which will be helpful once married. Although he did feel they needed to learn, numbers, writing, and the principles of their languages, as well as history, geography, physics and botany. Another part of education that was very significant to Napoleon was the idea of secondary education. He felt that boy’s education should be separated into 2 parts; under age 12 and over age 12. The first 4 classes would include general topics, once finished with that they would have to choose between a civil career or a career in the military and the rest of their education would depend on that (Markham 5).
To this day the Napoleonic educational system is still very popular in France. There has been some modification in the system such as, the separation of church and state was made complete. Now religion was not part of the public school’s curriculum. The high schools know, as lycees are still there today and even plays more of an important role. Graduation from a lycee is good enough for most jobs. Napoleon also did good for the political system of France. He created a new constitution. It consisted of three consuls. The first consul assumed by Napoleon, but was voted in.
Napoleon worked really hard to put France back together after the revolution. He allowed all types of political refugees back into France, and also appointed both radical republicans and royalist aristocrats to his government. (Hooker 2). While the most peerless act was to allow the Catholic church back into to France, The concordat with Pope Pius VII. While in rule he also created The Napoleonic Code. It was a complete revamp of the French law. It was based on 2 ideas: that all men are equal under the law (but not women) and all people have a right to property.
The code stamped out all privileges from the law including tax laws. The code spelled out various contractual laws to ensure the inviolability of private property. (Hooker 3) Many people think that what Napoleon was doing was wrong, yet they voted him Napoleon I, Emperor of France in 1804. Napoleon also in all he did abolished feudalism, which was part of the Code. As was stated before Napoleon brought the Catholic Church back into France; Bonaparte and Pope Pius VII agreed that it was necessary for the peace of the country. Napoleon also created the Legion of Honor in 1802.
It was Nobility but it was based on ability. At first not many people favored it, but by Napoleon’s downfall everyone even the Republicans favored it. (Holtman 3) Napoleon also accounted for the improvement and better treatment of the Jews. He gave them the right to worship in private and in some cases allowed them to become full-fledged citizens. Napoleon also helped create a system of measurement for the whole country now used in many places the metric system. He also created the bank of France. It aided the unification of the country and made it easy for everyone.
Before Napoleon came around marriages were only allowed through the church, he allowed marriages outside the church. The church never recognized divorces but Napoleon did. Which made life a lot easier for people in France. Napoleon might have wanted to have control over many lands, but most importantly he had improved the status of France from what it was after the Revolution to what it is now. He has helped shape present day France. His ideas with education, the government, and the social revolution he created were a huge part in history. He was a democratic leader in many different aspects.
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