1800s: Post-Revolutionary France

Finally, Archives & Special Collections' holdings also feature many texts from the post-Revolutionary period in France. This section of the exhibit looks at the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte as the first Emperor of France, the Bourbon Restoration, and a series of geographic cards representing how France saw itself as a country. 

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), the First Emperor of France

Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the latter stages of the French Revolution and its associated wars in Europe.The Life and Campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte, (Late Emperor of France, &c.) Containing Details of the Military Achievements, in France, Italy, Germany, Egypt, Spain, Portugal, and Russia, A Circumstantial Account of the Decisive Battle of Waterloo with Particulars of his Exile to St. Helena, Conversations with Dr. Warden, and his Employment in the Island published c.1810-1816 (Call No. DC203.L5) is a text that provides a detailed account of the life and times of Napoleon Bonaparte, first Emperor of France. 

Educated at military school, Napoleon Bonaparte was rapidly promoted within the ranks of the Revolutionary government in France. In 1796 he was made commander of the French army in Italy, where he forced Austria and its allies to make peace. In 1798, Napoleon conquered Ottoman-ruled Egypt in an attempt to strike at British trade routes with India.  In the the coup of Brumaire in November 1799, Napoleon became first consul and the head of the French Government after the fall of the Directory. This is traditionally recognized as the end of the French Revolution. In 1802, he was made consul for life and two years later, emperor. Part of the significance of Napoleon's reign was that he oversaw the centralization of government, the creation of the Bank of France, the reinstatement of Roman Catholicism as the state religion, and a series of law reforms with the Code Napoleon

The Life and Campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte, (Late Emperor of France, &c.)  dated circa 1810-1816 (Call No. DC203.L5)

The Code Napoleon (Call No. KJV444.21804.A52 1808) is the French civil code established under Napoléon I in 1804. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs should go to the most qualified. The Code, with its stress on clearly written and accessible law, was a major step in replacing the previous patchwork of feudal laws.

The title page of the Code Napoleon dated 1804 (Call No. KJV444. 21804.A52 1808)

Contemporary Theoretical Issues:

Historic and Other Doubts; or the Non-Existence of Napoleon Proved (Call No. DC203.9.P4713) was translated from the French of Jean-Baptiste Pérès (1752–1840), and was originally titled: Comme quoi Napoléon n’a jamais existé ou Grand Erratum, source d'un nombre infini d'errata à noter dans l'histoire du XIXe siècle. Pérès was professor of mathematics and physics at the University of Lyon, later a government attorney and finally librarian at Agen. This pamphlet was a polemical satire that attempted to reduce negative and rationalistic criticisms of Scripture that were in vogue at the time through humorously suggesting ways in which the history of Napoleon Bonaparte could be shown to be an expression of an ancient sun myth. The pamphlet's satire was directed at Charles François Dupuis (1742–1809) and his influential work Origine de tous les Cultes, ou la Réligion Universelle (1795), which attempted to prove that all religions were equally valid and based on common and universal imagery and magic numbers. 

Cover page of the Historic and Other Doubts; or the Non-Existence of Napoleon Proved by French of Jean-Baptiste Pérès (Call No. DC203.9.P4713)

The Bourbon Restoration

Of Buonaparte and the Bourbons, and of the necessity of rallying round our legitimate princes for the happiness of France and that of Europe written by François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) (Call No. DC150.C43) in 1814 outlines a contemporay account of the Bourbon Restoration during the same year. The text is obviously written in support of the return of the Bourbon royal family to power; for example, the author makes an explicit connection between the events of 1814 and the involvement of divine intervention to return the royal family to power: "It is not by the sole efforts of men that the events which we are witnessing have been brought about; the hand of Providence is visible in them all..."[1]

The Bourbon Restoration is the name given to the period of French history following the fall of Napoleon in 1814 until the July Revolution of 1830. Although, the period commonly known as the "Hundred Days"—which saw the return of Emperor Napoleon I to power and the Waterloo Campaign (June 15 - July 8, 1815)—occurred less than a full year into the Restoration. 

During the Restoration, the new Bourbon regime was a constitutional monarchy, unlike the absolutist Ancien Régime, and so it had some limits on its power. The period was characterized by a sharp conservative reaction, and consequent minor but consistent occurrences of civil unrest and disturbances. It also saw the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic Church as a power in French politics.

Title page of Of Buonaparte and the Bourbons, and of the necessity of rallying round our legitimate princes for the happiness of France and that of Europe written by François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand dated 1814 (Call No. DC150.C43)

Re-Imagining the Nation (1830)

Created January 4, 1790, the French departments replaced the country's former provinces, based on regional and historical differences, with a new system designed to bind the regions into a unified nation through a rational administrative structure. The Analyse Géographique des Départments de la France (2nd ed) published by Bourrut-Lémerie ca. 1830 (Call No: G1840 .B77 1830) is a set of 90 cards of the French départments following the revolution. Housed in the original gilt wooden box, each card contains an engraving of a map of the featured Department and a description of its characteristics. The second edition is remarkable for its increased embellishment and lavish illustrations. Though the maps were very similar to those used in the first edition, the second edition relied on entirely new plates to capture additional agricultural and historic details about the départments. You can see a difference between the first and second editions here. There is only one other copy of the second edition of this very rare set of educational cards housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

 G1840 .B77 1830)