Help support TMP


"Best general history/biography on Napoleon" Topic


223 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the Napoleonic Media Message Board


Action Log

14 Feb 2012 11:20 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from Napoleonic Discussion board
  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions board


16,843 hits since 30 Apr 2011
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 

DELETEDNAME Inactive Member27 May 2011 5:40 p.m. PST

10th Marines wrote:
"a psychopath, Fournier probably was and he usually picked on civilians who were not noted as swordsmen by insulting their wives, the long 'argument' with Dupont notwithstanding. There was good reason that Napoleon cashiered Fournier."
Also here :
link
link

It is perhaps no surprise that 10th Marines here seems to parrot Colonel Elting, from "Swords Around a Throne":
"…. in the Grand Armée, the outstanding specimen [of the professional duelist] was Reseda Fournier, from the Saar, a onetime choir boy, then a wild Jacobin, and probably psychopathic. An excellent light cavalryman, he took sadistic pleasure in forcing duels on civilians (sometimes by insulting their wives) and then killing them leisurely, but always within the forms of the dueling code. …. In 1813 Fournier's nerve broke, and he turned openly insubordinate. Napoleon stripped him of his commission."
link
(Colonel Elting provide no source information, as is usual in this work.)

There are some natural questions that arise ….
1. Who was Fournier ? It is one of the most common names in France.
2. Who are the civilians that the allegedly disturbed Fournier challenge to duels ?
3. Who was Dupont, and was there a series of duels ?

I cannot find any mention of the story of the Dupont-Fournier duels before baout 1855 – when it beigns to appear first in English.
The pretext of the famous duels arises from a slight against Fournier by Dupont after Fournier, allegedly maliciously, kills a young civilian. This event is placed either in Strasburg in 1794, with the cilvilian named "Blumm", while Fournier was a capitaine of hussards – or – in Rouen in 1803 with Fournier identified as a capitaine of chasseurs and the civilian identified as "Blume". This Founier was known as a crack pistol shot (and his use of swords wiht Dupont was to even the odds).
link
link

The Founier that 10th Marines and Colonel Elting are thinking of is général François Fournier-Sarlovese (1773-1827).
- This officer was indeed from the Saar, was once a choir singer, was a light cavalry officer and was famous for dueling, swordsmanship, insubordination, drinking heavily and chasing skirts.
- He was not known for dueling with civilians. He did not duel repeatedly with an officer named Dupont, nor anyone else that I can find.
- He did use the name "Réséda" as a Revolutionary name (it is a kind of flower) showing rejection of his Christian given name (this fashion was rather common in the early 1790's)
- In 1794 he was a chef d'escadron of chasseurs, with the 16e chasseurs à cheval in the armée de Sambre-et-Meuse (général Jourdan), until denounced by the revolutionary répresentant Gilet and confined awaiting trial. He was not a capitaine of hussards at Strasbourg.
- In 1803 he was a colonel, recently released from prison for an alleged lack of loyalty to Bonaparte, and confined to his home at Périgueux. He was not a capitaine of chasseurs at Rouen.
- He was not stripped of his commission in 1813 – but it was a little like that. He was stripped of the command of a light cavalry division for having said something that displeased Napoléon ("pour avoir tenu des propos qui avaient déplu à l'Empereur") in late November. He adhered to the monarchy in the first restauration, and was re-instated in the active list.
link
link
link

So, it looks very much like the late Colonel Elting conflated the story (possible fictional) of some cavalry capitaine named Fournier that appeared after 1850 with the actual career of général François Fournier-Sarlovese. To sex things up, the story's original plot of many military duels with one malicious provocation of one civilian gets re-written as if provoking civilians was the (fictional?) capitaine's usual behavior. This get us to using the rather exciting label "psychopathic".
10th Marines parrots this to us, without citing any sources, as "the facts".

The real "facts", as far as I can see ….
- there is a likely fictional story from the 1850's about a duelling officer named Fournier that mentions one provoked duel with one civilian
- there was a cavalry general who Napoléon did not like, and who ended up a Royalist, who duelled often – but not with civilians – and who by coincidence, had the same common name "Fournier".

===================================

The général Dupont, who capitulated at Baylen, cannot be the a participant in a series of duels under the late Empire. He spent most of this time under confinement for his defeat and surrender.
Another identification for a real Dupont to fit the character of the 1850's stories would likely be général Louis-François-Bertrand du Pont d'Aubevoye, comte de Lauberdière (1759-1837). But he was already an adjudant-général in 1791 and really too old to fit the story. The général François Fournier-Sarlovese did not ever duel with him.

===================================

Well, perhaps 10th Marines will be able to convince us that Colonel Elting made no mistake such as conflating a fictional story of the 1850's with a real general officer of the the First Empire – and that 10th Marines himself made no mistake in parroting this version to us as "the facts" without looking further into original and/or contemporary sources.

Amicalement.

basileus66 Inactive Member28 May 2011 3:38 a.m. PST

Sotnik

The term 'bonapartiste'… Had it the same meaning in its earliest acceptions than in its latests?

Thanks in advance!

DELETEDNAME Inactive Member28 May 2011 5:26 a.m. PST

Dear basileus66,

I would say "Yes".

I am no expert on French politics over the last 210 years, but I will say that the term seems to have had a remarkably constant meaning, with somewhat different appplication depending on the then-current government in France and the then-current leader of the Bonaparte family ….
-- strong national government led by a member of the Bonaparte family, typically acting as a/the national executive power
-- strong military/defense/geopolitical capability or position
-- professional and well-organized governmental services
-- right-of-center economic policy, generally supportive of the private ownership of property, inlcuding agriculture and large commercial enterprises : exceptions made in the area of military/defense manufacturing
-- support for civil/human rights and the development of civil society, including impartiality and due process in the legal system : but limited such that this does not conflict with the above principles
-- in the absence of a government in France as described above, or when in opposition to the current government, use of references to the prior acheivements of Bonaparte family members as a rallying point to gain political/societal/intellectual support.

There is also common usage as an invective or even insult, from the beginning, by those oppposed to a governmental system as described above.

It is only my opinion. I tried to provide links in my post so tht we could all look and make our own judgement.

Amicalement.

50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick Inactive Member28 May 2011 7:40 a.m. PST

-- right-of-center economic policy, generally supportive of the private ownership of property, i

-- support for civil/human rights and the development of civil society,

It's interesting that those two would, in retrospect, be considered "Bonapartist" positions, since they run so strongly contrary to Napoleon's own administration. The more I learn about this period, the more I appreciate how powerful the State became under Napoleonic rule, at the expense of all kinds of individual and communal rights. The Bonapartist state not only controlled the media and severely punished all attempts at independent media, but it was a true surveillance state, insofar as the technologies of 1800 would allow.

I've been reading some of the Prefectural "Black Books" this summer in my research, and they're astonishing. Every mayor was supposed to keep and update a list of "suspicious persons," and report them to the prefects and to the high police. "Madame So-and-So… dangerous because of her connection to the Lagarde family, who are known supporters of the previous regime…" That sort of thing. Thousands of names.

And of course respect for private and communal property ownership was certainly not a hallmark of the Bonapartist state, either. The state was a prolific confiscator of homes, ships, business, horses, land… They practiced a redistribution of wealth, to the benefit of the regime's collaborators, that had no precedent in the Old Regime. (albeit not as severe, nor as bloody, as during the Revolution.)

Even the things that Napoleon usually gets unquestioned credit for, such as secularization of the state, come with a heavy price. Consider the "emancipation" of the Jews in a place like Napoleonic Westphalia, for instance. By decree, they were made equal before the law. And supposedly freed of any special taxes or fees, and any old limitations on professions or domicile. But they also lost all their previous special arrangements. They had once been exempt from military conscription, for instance… No more. They had once had no state interference in their religious practice… No more. The state decreed the: "Etablissement d'un consistoire et de syndics pour la surveillance du culte hébraique."

So now the Ministry of the Interior appoints their chief Rabbis, requires monthly reports on their activities, taxes them, and all of their religious teachers become state employees and thus under the regulatory eye of the state, which pays their salaries and even regulates what they can teach and preach (all rabbis had to demonstrate that they were exhorting their communities to praise and serve the Emperor). The interior ministry established a "Principle Synagogue" in each department, and could regulate the number and even the location of other synagogues. And the mayor of each commune in which a synagogue was located, was required to report on their activities… so essentially they have to report their activities, even though they're being officially spied-on, too. (And of course, for those Polish Jews who were still patronymic, they had to adopt Christian-style names, so that they could be registered and taxes.)

All of that… and then in the Summer of 1811 the interior ministry authorized a dramatic change in the property laws, restricting Jews from certain types of property ownership and from relocating to certain areas. They also lost their right to appeal to their mayors in the event of legal issues. They were to appeal only directly to the state, via the Consistorium. So much for emancipation.

I suspect that most of them would have rather faced the individual discrimination of their old communities, rather than the all-powerful hand of the modern state controlling their religious affairs AND raising their taxes.

**

It makes me wonder what the conventional wisdom about Napoleon would be, if more writers had read the primary sources, such as the actual laws, police records, prefectural reports, and so on. I suspect that a lot of writing about Napoleon is done in an echo-chamber, and with a very limited soundtrack.

Gazzola28 May 2011 8:23 a.m. PST

Sotnik

Colonel Elting mentions his sources for each particular chapter, pages 735-750, and also includes them in his notes, pages 681-735. (paperback edition, 1997)

He does not write about the two duellists in any great detail. Indeed, only via one small paragraph. If he were to attempt to list the source for every paragraph and on every minor topic discussed, the book, aready over 700 pages in length, would probably never have been published.

Sadly, the Colonel is not around to ask him directly. He does mention that the chapter containing the small paragraph, is based on dozens of memoirs, letters and journals. He then list some of those he had employed. I would have loved to have seen a full list.

I am not saying he had it right but I don't think you can just accuse him of basically making it up because you yourself were unable to discover, as yet, enough source material to either confirm or reject what he had written. Indeed, it may well be that the source or sources he employed had it wrong.

I've written numerous magazine articles (and countless academic essays) and have often come across sources used by well known academics and historians, but which were later proven to be incorrect or contradicted other sources. Should the author/historian be blamed for that? I do hope something is discovered to confirm that what Colonel Elting had written, was correct or near enough. But if it is proven that his sources were incorrect, it will have to be classed as a great story ruined.

basileus66 Inactive Member28 May 2011 10:06 a.m. PST

The story of the 'duelist' it's just an anecdote. It doesn't prove anything significant about the period, the Napoleonic army or about the mores of the era.

The worst case scenario is that it proves that Elting trusted too much in second-hand narratives or that he put too much faith in memoirs, which it's something that anyone will know just looking at his quoted sources. Nobody with a minimum of critical thinking would take Elting's works as the gospel on Napoleonic warfare. His merit was that he was the first, in English language, who tried to resume in a single volume the current knowledge about the army of Napoleon. However, it's evident that his work is, today, outdated. It can be used as a starting point, but just so.

basileus66 Inactive Member28 May 2011 10:08 a.m. PST

Sam

Those are very interesting insights on how Napoleonic France worked. Will you publish your findings soon? I would like to read more about what you are finding.

Best

50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick Inactive Member28 May 2011 11:03 a.m. PST

"Will you publish your findings soon? "

I'm working on a new book about the effect of the French conquest in Germany, and right now I'm looking at Westphalia. Mostly I'm looking at economic indicators. (Right now I'm neck-deep in tax laws, and frankly I don't understand all of it yet.) I'll probably do an article or two before the book comes out, which will be a couple of years.

Another thing that has struck me, on this latest research trip, is how full of exceptions the Napoleonic system was. It was, in its own way, every bit as weird and regional as the Old Regime had been. Metropolitan France, which had been through the Revolution, was more standardized. But the areas conquered and annexed during the Empire, and especially the satellite states, were shot- through with local exceptions and deals. For example: there was supposed to be a very limited process for obtaining an exception for the main property tax, but apparently all sorts of people obtained it from the courts for a variety of reasons, none of which were procedurally sound. And the government's attempt to set maximum prices on key agricultural products seems to have gone ignored in most regions, where prices just kept climbing. And the cities battled with the central government and prefects for their own exemptions and arrangements. For example, a city might lobby for a reduction of its obligations to the state, claiming it had lost a large source of its tax revenue because the state (not the city) now licensed bars and inns.

Or perhaps an estate had been taxed using the standard measure… but then Napoleon confiscated it and gave it to one of his officers or relatives as a donative. Now it was tax-free… officially, at least. But Napoleon might have a special arrangement with that individual in which part of the revenue of that estate went to the public treasury. It wasn't "taxed" per se, but rather "donated" back to the state, in some private deal offered by the emperor. That way, the individual didn't have to worry about tax increases that might affect his neighbor.

No two departments had exactly the same arrangement with the central government, when it came to the tax burden. The conventional wisdom of Napoleonic streamlining and standardization is just not true. Napoleon may have swept away most of the Old Regime's quirks and special arrangements…. but he simply replaced them with his own.

basileus66 Inactive Member28 May 2011 11:54 a.m. PST

"The conventional wisdom of Napoleonic streamlining and standardization is just not true. Napoleon may have swept away most of the Old Regime's quirks and special arrangements…. but he simply replaced them with his own"

I've found something similar at work in the parts of Spain under Joseph's control, but I thought it was a peculiarity of the Spanish situation. May be it was, but after reading your post I am not so sure anymore.

Deadmen tell lies Inactive Member28 May 2011 11:57 a.m. PST

Sam

Seems you stumbled onto something good here and it
sounds quite interesting, at least you have my attention and
it would be good to here about more of this in the future
from you.

Regards
James

DELETEDNAME Inactive Member28 May 2011 12:40 p.m. PST

Sam,

"they run so strongly contrary to Napoleon's own administration. The more I learn about this period, the more I appreciate how powerful the State became under Napoleonic rule,"

I agree completely. Your quote of my post deleted the exceptions. But the exceptions were quite large in the time of Napoléon Ier. If you want to claim that to look past the exceptions is like asking Mrs. Lincoln about the play at Ford's Theatre, then fine.

But, I do see these elements as part of the general world-view or "ideology" (I put it in quotes and still I don't like using the word in this context) that has been identified as "bonapartiste" for over 200 years. And, I will still say that even the first "bonapartiste" would subscribe to these classically liberal values, after (repeat after) satisfying himself on the prior listed points : strong national government led by a Bonaparte, strong geopolitical capability, professional and well-organized governmental services. This satisfaction with the leading points is exactly the "heavy price" you mention. And indeed, this "price" was highest – and we can discuss the reasons – in the time of Napoléon 1er.

In any case, my prompt to write on this was 10th Marines' ponderous assertion that the term was of late 19th century origin. And here, the linked sources are conclusive – the usage originated under the Consulate in the French language.

==================================================

Gazzola,

"Colonel Elting mentions his sources for each particular chapter"

Yes, but that is rather pointedly not useful for tracing his source for a particular item. It is impossible to tell were his opinions/conclusions stop and where he is reporting something sourced. It is also impossible to weigh in an unbiased way the story he is telling against that told by any other researcher. That is why explicit complete citations are used in academic work. I realize that producing such a formal academic work was not the Colonel's intention. Since such formalism was not his intention, one cannot fault him for its lack.

I did not "accuse him of basically making it up". Please read my post. I said that I thought it was quite possble that he made a "mistake such as conflating a fictional story of the 1850's with a real general officer of the the First Empire". That would be very easy to do when faced with a common name such as Fournier, a général known for duelling, and no ability to do content searches on millions of books in less than one second.

10th Marines did post here something that he re-told as "the facts" – not his opinion, not his own conclusion. 10th Marines did not even provide the citation to Colonel Elting, let alone to any primary, original or contemporary source(s). If he had qualified his post with "it is my opinion" or some such – then I would have written nothing in repsonse. But, since the factual basis for his post was potentially quite weak, I thought it might be of use to the readers here to have a look at from where 10th Marines was parroting, and then discuss some of the problems in treating the story as told by Colonel Elting as factual.

I, myself, was unable to find the story of the Fournier-Dupont series of duels before about 1855 (and then first in English). I was able, using original and contempory sources for which I provided links, to place the général Fournier-Sarlovese well away from the locations mentioned in the story. I was unable to find any hint of his repeatedly challenging civilians in some "psychopathic" fashion. I did find that Napoléon did not like him. And so on. I posted what I found, I provided links to sources for it.

These results place "doubt" upon the accuracy of Colonel Elting's original narrative and hence 10th Marines' parroting of that narrative. If 10th Marines will now again insist that he has posted "the facts", then he might wish to resolve some of the doubt by the use of primary, original and contemporary sources. Please remember, it was he who told us "the facts". I just posted some sources, so that each reader here can decide "the facts" for himself.

==================================================

basileus66,

I share your opinions and agree with your commments.
For me, the work of Colonel Elting is not just "a" starting point, but "the" starting point for detailed study of the French army of the era. But, nonetheless, it is today indeed only a starting point. This is why we should look at the things re-told there critically, carefully, with reference to primary, original and contemporary sources – and why simply parroting Colonel Elting and declaring the result to be "the facts" can prove unfruitful.

==================================================

Amicalement.

50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick Inactive Member28 May 2011 12:59 p.m. PST

"But, I do see these elements as part of the general world-view or "ideology" (I put it in quotes and still I don't like using the word in this context) that has been identified as "bonapartiste" for over 200 years."

I'll take your word for it. I don't know enough about 19th century French politics, to say otherwise.


"For me, the work of Colonel Elting is not just "a" starting point, but "the" starting point for detailed study of the French army of the era."

It's a very good book, far superior to the work of its most ardent imitator.

Many years ago, I was belting out a Rolling Stones song and my friend said:

"Do you know why Mick Jagger sang that song?"

-- Why? I asked.

"So that you wouldn't have to," he said.

Gazzola28 May 2011 1:32 p.m. PST

Sotnik

Colonel Elting's lack of citing everything he writes, which would indeed, become a book in istelf, considering the amount of topics he covers it the title mentioned, may well be down to the publisher rather than the Colonel himself.

In academic essays amd works, you have to cite your sources and work out your word limit to include them. But many magazines nowadays prefer articles not to be peppered with citations because of the space they take up. Perhaps some publishers feel the same? But, as mentioned earlier, considering the massive number of topics Colonel Elting covers within the title, can you imagine how much space would be taken up with citations?

You say you have not accused him of making it up. Well, I'm sorry but using the flowery expression 'conflating' and connecting it to a 'fictional' story, suggests you think he did! It also insults the man's research methods, without the man being able to reply to your challenge.

As you yourself have proven by your, perhaps limited research, there is evidence to connect what he wrote with names and duelists, but, as yet, nothing to confirm that Fournier deliberately picked on civilians. But at the same time you have discovered and offered nothing to prove that he did not.

And should this one small paragraph, which you have not really proven to be false, indicate that the rest of his work is inaccurate? If so, then I suggest it would imply that there are no authors-historians whose work can be treated as accurate.

But I really do hope some real evidence is produced, to answer the flowery accusation, one way or another.

DELETEDNAME Inactive Member28 May 2011 2:16 p.m. PST

Gazzola,

You win. This is the kind of personaly directed internet crap that makes me leave fora. You are now parsing on and on about me, what I wrote, how I wrote it, blah, blah, blah. I am not a miniature. I am not a wargame or set of rules. I am not part of Napoleonic history. I am not a source for information about anything.

I just linked some sources so people can draw their own conclusions. Nothing more.

Bottom line : your pal Kevin tossed in an anecdote from Colonel Elting (as usual, strike 1) without checking it with so much as a quick google search (also as usual, strike 2) as "the facts" (and again as usual, strike 3). When one does check the story, there are some issues that immediately arise. I shared the issues. That's the end of the question as far as I am concerned.

Also, this is the end of my stay here.
So, you win. Poisonous toads do chase some people away. I am one of them.

Arteis Inactive Member28 May 2011 4:17 p.m. PST

Because Elting did not specifically cite the source of the anecdote in question, and so far no-one has managed to re-find his source, I believe it cannot be quoted as a 'fact'.

- It is possible that it is indeed a fact, but that remains unproven without re-finding the evidence.

- Just as possible is that it is an error, but again that remains unproven without evidence of Elting's method in coming up with this anecdote.

So it is, at this stage, no more than a colourful anecdote of unknown veracity. All we can do, in either direction, is conjecture. Therefore it is not worth any one getting their knickers in such a twist about, one way or the other.

I guess this points out the danger of not having good citations in a serious history book (whether in the published book itself, or in the author's papers). Many years ago I enthusiastically wrote a history book about my local police. However, as someone who had never written a book or done research before, I was careless with noting my sources. The result is that today I cannot remember where I got some of the stories in the book. So I would be the first to admit they are now no more than unproven anecdotes that may have been told to me, or that I may have inadvertantly conflated from other things, and that the book is worthless as a serious history … though nevertheless a darn good read, if I may say so myself!

XV Brigada Inactive Member28 May 2011 7:10 p.m. PST

What is the point of a "darn good read" if it is "worthless as a serious history". History is too important not to be treated seriously.

Bill

dogsbody Inactive Member29 May 2011 12:53 a.m. PST

Deleted name don't leave the forum your posts are always illuminating and supply much valued information such as the above topic regarding Fournier.

50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick Inactive Member29 May 2011 1:00 a.m. PST

"Also, this is the end of my stay here.
So, you win. Poisonous toads do chase some people away. I am one of them."

Oh come on… that's what the Stifle button is for. Nobody has to suffer a toad, if they don't want to.

basileus66 Inactive Member29 May 2011 2:27 a.m. PST

What is the point of a "darn good read" if it is "worthless as a serious history". History is too important not to be treated seriously.

Bill

Those books have some value. You can find snippets of information that can put you in the right track for your own research, once you confirm or dismiss the anecdotes told. Actually, many memoirs/journals fall in the category of unsubstantiated anecdotes. The mission of the real historian is to contextualize those anecdotes, to confirm or refute them finding independent evidence, to interpret them in the context of the times, ecc.

Best regards

Old Bear Inactive Member29 May 2011 2:31 a.m. PST

You win. This is the kind of personaly directed internet crap that makes me leave fora.

Whereas repeatedly accusing somebody of say, 'parroting', for example, is the very height of civil exchange. An unkind person might suggest you are being a tad hypocritical.

XV Brigada Inactive Member29 May 2011 10:15 a.m. PST

Basileus66,

It is a matter of degree I suppose. Some written history is ‘less bad' than others and I am happy to admit that the definitive book has yet to be written. None are entirely error-free and new information will lead to re-interpretation. Having said that I cannot understand the defence of some of the second-rate stuff in this thread.

Bill

Gazzola29 May 2011 11:19 a.m. PST

deletedname or whatever you call yourself

'poisonous toads chase people away'. Really? I thought it was snakes they chased away.

Sorry you feel that my challenging your accusations is picking on you? The idea of debate is to discuss what is said, not just accept it because so and so said it.

So, if you are still leaving

bye bye

10th Marines Inactive Member29 May 2011 12:31 p.m. PST

'Having said that I cannot understand the defence of some of the second-rate stuff in this thread.'

To what 'second rate stuff' are you referring? What would you consider first rate material? And what have you actually contributed except for critique of material that you have shown little or no expertise in?

Your postings amount to just criticisms of others, yet you take offense if others critique material. Hypocrisy or just being contrary?

K

10th Marines Inactive Member29 May 2011 1:07 p.m. PST

'Poisonous toads do chase some people away. I am one of them.'

You're a 'poisonous toad'? You are leaving again? You seem to make a habit of it. I do agree with Old Bear, though, in that your statement to Gazzola is somewhat hypocritical as you seem to be able to dish it out, but cannot take it.

You've referred to me as 'condescending' and a few other remarks hidden in your postings. That is why I generally didn't respond to you. You appear to 'demand' things in your postings, which is a put off. In other words, you are condemning and name-calling when you engage in the same conduct yourself. So, right back at you.

K

Madison Inactive Member29 May 2011 2:05 p.m. PST

To offer some inexpert thoughts to some of the postings above…

Napoleon still unified the legal system, even with all of his own oddities and quirks inserted in it, it still could make more sense to the average person than the one before--even if it wasn't necessarily equal or fair. It was a singular hierarchal legal approach, rather than a bifurcated one with all kinds of branches and offshoots stemming out from two different trees--the temporal & spiritual, not to mention different "kinds" of law. It would've taken years of study for a person to begin to become versed in the previous legal system, whereas under Napoleonic Code, the average person was more likely to be able figure things out for themselves, as well as defend and advocate for themselves than was previously possible.

Moreover, under the previous system custom, tradition, culture were bound within the legal system and part of it--customary law, etc.. Under Napoleon, that was probably all or most of it thrown out and the entire genesis of law was considered to be derived from and created by the State. Unless the state put it in writing, made a judgement,etc.. it wasn't necessarily so… law explicit, singular and hierarchical. Rule of Law, not Rule of Laws.

XV Brigada Inactive Member29 May 2011 4:15 p.m. PST

@Klingons Orbiting Uranus,

Yes, that is what the stifle button is for. I am not entirely sure what the debate about Gourgaud and Fournier etc was doing on a thread about bios of Napoleon because I have Mr Kiley and his 'tag-team' on stifle, and only see what 'Deletedname' posted. But Mr Kiley's track record particularly in the context of Elting is such that I imagine his posts followed the familiar path, in which case you can hardly blame 'Deletedname' for leaving. It is a pity because he seemed to know what he was talking about.

Bill

50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick Inactive Member29 May 2011 10:23 p.m. PST

Welcome, Madison. (Mike?)

If we're speaking of just the legal codes on paper, then I'd agree that in a place like Westphalia, for instance, the new Napoleonic system was probably the best legal system under which any of those people had ever lived. At least in terms of clarity, efficiency, simplicity, etc. (And it relied a lot less on corporal punishments.) From the memoirs of jurists that I've read, it seems to have taken the average person about 1-2 years to master it and practice.

Had the Napoleonic system lasted longer, I have a feeling that it would have soon become much more complicated in practice, though, because all of the regional and power-based quirks were adding up pretty quickly. And of course Napoleon reserved for himself a dictatorial superstructure, which placed himself above the law, and able to interfere, or to authorize others to interfere, in any way he pleased.

To take just one example: in Dec 1811 a French captain who had been sleeping with the wife of a German merchant, was found shot. The merchant was naturally suspected, and thus arrested. But there was not one shred of proof that he'd done it. But because the victim was a serving French officer, Davout, who commanded the French troops in this region, ordered that the merchant be executed. Public outcry resulted, including pamphlets protesting the man's innocence. That prompted Davout to set up a military commission in the city (Brunswick), which indicted several Westphalian judges for not maintaining order and placing French troops in jeopardy. (Reports of boys throwing snowballs at French troops prompted him to send an infantry regiment through the streets with lit torches, searching houses and confiscating any weapons and threatening immediate arson and arrest to any resisters.)

Okay, so… Where is the law? We have a civilian in a supposedly sovereign state, accused of a crime. Where was his due process? The man might have been guilty, or he might have been innocent, but nobody was ever required to prove it. On the authority of a military commander from a foreign state, he was arrested, given a show trial, and hanged, and the judges in his country were then bullied for allowing the civilians to protest it.

It's those sorts of things that, to my mind at least, tend to point up the fragility of the supposed improvements brought by the Code Napoleon. People may have been granted, on paper, a shiny new modern legal system… But in reality they were simply still under a dictatorship that ruled via military force whenever it saw fit. The law was something that could go on, if the dictator had no objections.

PS – speaking of Westphalia, the Westphalian version of the Code N. had grown to over 10,000 pages by 1811, so it was not an inconsiderable tangle, even on paper. It got revised almost every year. I'm always surprised that there was seemingly no matter too small for the state to legislate. For example: a law from 4 Sept., 1810, stipulating six pages of regulations for the proper sorts of costumes, down to the details of haircuts and neck-clasps for certain ceremonial togas, for various rituals held in the palace, involving different classes of people at different times.

PSS – Something that I've learned since I relocated to New Jersey ten years ago… People like all of their special deals and loopholes. Everybody always protests they want the law to be clear and simple… until they realize that that results in them losing some tax break, some special privilege they've had for generations, or some advantage accorded to their profession. The best intentions of streamliners often falls afoul of the protest from all across the social spectrum, as various interest groups demand the restitution of their privileges. And of course, some of them succeed. Pretty soon, the law is full of breaks and deals and loopholes again. If you go through the Bulletin de Lois, you'll be surprised by how many decrees stipulate that the following new law or declaration applies to one specific individual, granting him some new title, property, or reward. What I see happening with the Code Napoleon is that the state has made a lot of enemies by wiping away lots of old traditional arrangements… but has then placed a lot of new arrangements in their place, to favor groups and individuals whose loyalty the state needs to preserve.

Old Bear Inactive Member30 May 2011 12:49 a.m. PST

I am not entirely sure what the debate about Gourgaud and Fournier etc was doing on a thread about bios of Napoleon because I have Mr Kiley and his 'tag-team' on stifle, and only see what 'Deletedname' posted.

In one fell swoop the foolishness of stifling explained. He still manages to throw in an insult even though he cannot possibly know who has been commenting, and then hides behind his stifles to avoid anything in return. Perhaps if one is a habitual stifler one should refrain from anything which might in turn get one stifled? Or is that just too uncomfortable for some?

Madison Inactive Member30 May 2011 6:25 a.m. PST

Thanks Klingons (Kirk?)
What were the stipulations for "due process" in Westphalia under the Code N ? Aren't the actual components of due process as, if not more important than the process itself. For instance, was due process in Westphalia under the Code, trial by jury or get shuffled in front of a judge ? Moreover, Davout appointing a military commission sounds as though there might have been two degrees or tiers of the law in question. The Westphalian Code N subject to the Military Code N by right of conquest. Therefore, Westphalian due process may have been legally trumped by Napoleonic conquest and the proceedings were in fact perfectly lawful.

Gazzola30 May 2011 7:36 a.m. PST

Old Bear

I think members should get dawghoused for using the stifle, especially if they make comments about posts they claim they have not read. But, as we all know, 'running away' or using the stifle is often an excuse for some people not to reply to questions they can't answer or a way of 'pretending' they were not interested in a debate because it was not going their way. And do these same people really believe we believe they did not read the posts?

50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick Inactive Member30 May 2011 10:01 a.m. PST

"Westphalian due process may have been legally trumped by Napoleonic conquest and the proceedings were in fact perfectly lawful."

Trumped, yes. "Legally" trumped… I'm not sure about that. I'm happy to be corrected, and pointed to the legislation that states that the army of a foreign power has the right to arrest, imprison, and execute a Westphalian citizen.

Either way, it's not a really strong statement on the rule of law for the average citizen, is it? Either the law has an exception written into it, that allows the military to intervene in civilian justice where and when it pleases… Or there is no such law, and the military does anyway.

Madison Inactive Member30 May 2011 12:26 p.m. PST

When a state of war exists a military commission has the authority to arrest, imprison and execute enemy citizens or even its own, depending on the merits of the case, unless that right is explicitly denied. Where was that right explicitly denied under Napoleonic Code ?

basileus66 Inactive Member30 May 2011 12:42 p.m. PST

When a state of war exists a military commission has the authority to arrest, imprison and execute enemy citizens or even its own, depending on the merits of the case, unless that right is explicitly denied. Where was that right explicitly denied under Napoleonic Code ?

There wasn't a state of war between France and the Kingdom of Westphalia in september 1810, when the case mentioned by Sam happened. Actually, at the time France was at war only with Great Britain and the Spanish and Portuguese patriots.

More to the point, theoretically the kingdom of Westphalia -created by Napoleon for his brother Jerome- was an independent country, which makes the interferring from Davout even more unlawful.

I could have found some merit in your argument if you would have been speaking about the military commissions that operated in Spain, which overviewed the war against the guerrillas. In Westphalia, though, the case wasn't under the jurisdiction of French military authorities, from a legal point of view. As Sam has explained, Davout used the menace of violence, not the law, to impose his own interpretation of the facts. You can find some justification -may be he was under orders from Napoleon to keep a close watch over potential German nationalist tendencies, that could lead to an uprising-, but that wouldn't refute Sam's claim about the gap between the theory of the Code Napoleon, and its practical application.

Madison Inactive Member30 May 2011 12:51 p.m. PST

Either way, it's not a really strong statement on the rule of law for the average citizen, is it?

Which statement ? Your legal interpretation of the merits of the case ? Or the judges' legal interpretation of the merits of the case ? All I can gauge from your description is that situation sounded rather explosive. I'm sure the French Army didn't take well to having its officers murdered by civilians b/c those officers happened to enter into consentual relationships with the wives of those civilians.

50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick Inactive Member30 May 2011 1:03 p.m. PST

" I'm sure the French Army didn't take well to having its officers murdered by a civilians b/c those officers happened to enter into consentual relationships with the wives of those civilians."

There was never any evidence produced that the accused was in fact the murderer. That's the point. Davout informed Napoleon, who agreed that "French blood" (his words) could not be shed without repercussions. And thus they picked a likely suspect, and killed him.

The fact that he was the citizen of a state that was allied to France, and which – constitutionally – was governed by the Code Napoleon, turned out to be irrelevant.

Had the accused been granted the rights allegedly given to him by the Code Napoleon, then at the very least, he would have had the right to representation, and the prosecution would have had to provide at least *some* evidence that he did in fact commit the crime.

My understanding of the expression "the rule of law," is that the citizens can expect to be treated in accordance with the laws, as written. If they can be arrested, detained, and executed without any of the due processes allegedly granted to them by their states' own laws… then they are not living in a state that practices the rule of law.


PS – Madison, since you're a very recent arrival here, I believe beginning with this very thread two days ago, but apparently a very knowledgeable and fluent commentator on these matters, might you be so kind as to shed some light, perhaps, on who you are? There's no reason, other than my own curiosity. It's just unusual for somebody to appear with a brand-new membership in the midst of a thread like this, so it's sparked my curiosity. Thanks. – Sam

Madison Inactive Member30 May 2011 1:16 p.m. PST

Had the accused been granted the rights allegedly given to him by the Code Napoleon, then at the very least, he would have had the right to representation, and the plaintiff would have had to provide at least *some* evidence that he did in fact commit the crime.

"Allegedly" given ? Either the Westphalian Code N did or did not grant those rights. If it didn't, the man was lucky to get even a "show" trial with judges. If it did grant those rights, as I think you are saying it did, then I'll further accept your assumption that the man was not allowed to defend himself before the court, no evidence was produced against him and he was summarily executed. Therefore, under those circumsntances, I would agree with you :)

50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick Inactive Member30 May 2011 1:33 p.m. PST

"Either the Westphalian Code N did or did not grant those rights."

Westphalia's constitution specifically says that the C.N. is the law of the land. Subsequent civil procedures were added on top of that.

If I'm reading the French correctly, which is always a big "if," then the C.N. guarantees the accused the right of counsel (Sec. 294, Code d'instruction criminelle of 1808) And if he doesn't have a lawyer, the trial is null and void:

L'accusé sera interpellé de déclarer le choix qu'il aura fait d'un conseil pour l'aider dans sa défense ; sinon le juge lui en désignera un sur-le-champ, à peine de nullité de tout ce qui suivra.

Cette désignation sera comme non avenue, et la nullité ne sera pas prononcée si l'accusé choisit un conseil.

(Not to mention the requirement of witnesses, and the right to cross-examine them, provided by sections 320-330).

link

* * *

So that's what the C.N. allegedly guarantees its citizens. I use the word "allegedly" because I can think of several instances in which that was not the case. They tended to involve either the military stepping in, or Napoleon personally intervening, or one of the special "trade courts" set up later during the empire to prosecute alleged smugglers, in which the due process was suspended, no appeals were permitted, and sentences were carried out within 24 hours.

As I said earlier, it was the rule of law on paper but not necessarily in practice.

10th Marines Inactive Member31 May 2011 2:16 p.m. PST

One of the common errors that too many people make when judging historical events is that they judge it by present-day standards and norms, and not those of the period being discussed.

That is apparently what is being done here regarding the ideas of due process, the Code Civile (Napoleon), and the Code Criminale, these two Codes not being the same thing at all.

Further, knowledge of the period and the ability to put yourself into the period as much as possible definitely aids in understanding not only the period as a whole, but the acts of those who lived during the period.

There were no democracies in the modern sense-not in England or the United States. The former was a constitutional monarchy and the latter a republic, as France was a republic from 1793-1804.

As for the law not always being followed, that would apply to just about every nation from time to time. In the case of the United States, Lincoln was probably the closest thing to a dictator this country ever had, as he, for example, tried to suspend habeas corpus. Close to our own time Franklin Roosevelt attempted to pack the supreme court, yet those two men are considered by many historians as two of the greatest presidents the US has ever had.

I would submit that instead of trying to chip away in minor bits what are or may be neglect of the rule of law by heads of state that generally governed by the rule of law, attempt to view the accomplishments of the whole and what people, such as Lincold, Roosevelt, and Napoleon tried to accomplish. The cold fact is that Napoleon remade France and did a good job of doing the same to a large chunk of Europe-and in the end it was a good thing and advanced government, law, education, and many other facets farther than his contemporaries ever dreamed or even wished to do.

If anyone does not agree, fine. Then demonstrate the opposite and prove the idea wrong.

K

basileus66 Inactive Member31 May 2011 2:55 p.m. PST

Kev

I think that you are misreading Sam's post. His post clearly states that the supposed homogeneity of the rule of the law that is commonly attributed to Napoleonic France, wasn't as universal nor homogeneous as imagined, when confronted with the archival evidence. There are enough documented cases to suspect that the truth was less clear-cut than what it was accepted by the historiography. That proposition has nothing to do with judging Napoleon's France thru modern, democratic values, but with improving our understanding about what practices were actually reformed and whicn ones simply received a make-up. That's what historians do: to review evidence, and further our understanding of the past. That's what Sam is doing. I, for one, appreciate his efforts.

Best regards

Hugh Johns Inactive Member31 May 2011 9:51 p.m. PST

"The cold fact is that Napoleon remade France and did a good job of doing the same to a large chunk of Europe-and in the end it was a good thing and advanced government, law, education, and many other facets farther than his contemporaries ever dreamed or even wished to do.

If anyone does not agree, fine. Then demonstrate the opposite and prove the idea wrong."

K,
you may be correct. You may be incorrect. But you are wrong. Nobody needs to "demonstrate" or "prove" anything to disagree. They just need only to say something like, "[The cold fact is that] Bonaparte's regime [was] a prototype of modern tyrannies, whether Fascist or Communist – destroying liberty in the name of liberty and claiming to fulfill 'the will of the people' while justifying the extinction of all dissent and opposition." *

However, the good Professor is actually reading Westphalian law. You don't have match his efforts. But you ought to respect them.

* from the dust jacket of Barnett, "Bonaparte".

Gazzola01 Jun 2011 6:58 a.m. PST

Hew Johns

I think you are right about people respecting other people's views, even if you disagree with them. It is certainly something which has been lacking on this site for some time.

However, I also think it is logical that anyone would need to 'demonstrate' and 'prove' their reasoning, if they felt bold and confident enough to disgree about something. You can't disgree without having a reason to disgree, which may be based on correct or incorrect knowledge. The reasons for disagreeing would then naturally and hopefully lead to debate.

Hugh Johns Inactive Member01 Jun 2011 7:12 a.m. PST

It's never stopped you.

10th Marines Inactive Member01 Jun 2011 9:08 a.m. PST

Corelli Barnett is not the author to quote if an even-handed viewpoint of Napoleon is desired. His book on Napoleon isn't very good.

I'm not being disrespectful of anyone's research. I am questioning conclusions, however, which is part of historical inquiry. The document linked to by 'Klingons' is the Criminal Code, not the Civil Code which is interesting since the Civil Code is the one being referred to. Further, the Westphalian version of the Criminal Code was revised in 1810.

Was Napoleon's Correspondence on the issue looked into at all?

The baby might be in the process of being thrown out with the bathwater here.

K

Connard Sage Inactive Member01 Jun 2011 9:13 a.m. PST

Corelli Barnett is not the author to quote if an even-handed viewpoint of Napoleon is desired. His book on Napoleon isn't very good.

Napoleophiles have been saying Barnett's book 'isn't very good' for over 30 years. Doesn't make them right.

I thought it was excellent, not least because it wasn't a paean of praise to the Great Man and because it Bleeped texted on all the hero-worshippers chips.

50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick Inactive Member01 Jun 2011 10:27 a.m. PST

"A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point."

- Leon Festinger

basileus66 Inactive Member01 Jun 2011 10:48 a.m. PST

"The baby might be in the process of being thrown out with the bathwater here"

I don't think so. Napoleon never left anything to tie his hands, in order to get what he thought it was best for him and his crown. In Spain, as you know, he instructed his generals to ignore his brother's jurisdiction if it was in their way. There are several documented cases where the French commanders turned over acquittals passed by Joseph's special judges -who weren't lenient themselves, for starters-. When his brother complained to Napoleon, for what he understood it was unproper meddling in the affairs of his kingdom, Napoleon supported his generals decissions and ignored his brother's complaints.

For Napoleon, the Law was just a tool, that could be thrown away when he thought it was detrimental to his policies or needs. He was above the Law, just as any other autocrat has ever done.

Mind that I don't use the word 'autocrat' as a pejorative, but as a description. The moral values implicit in autocracy weren't the same back then, than they are today. May be with the exception of USA, Great Britain, the early French Republic and the constitutional Spain, autocracies were the common form of government.

Gazzola01 Jun 2011 11:09 a.m. PST

Hew Johns

Despite what you think, I have a very open mind. I welcome new sources, new ideas and different views and angles on anything. I have had my eyes opened on several topics by some of the members of this site, and was happy for people to have shared their knowledge and pass it on to me.

If you want to believe otherwise, that's your choice, although to do so could be considered as highlighting your own prejudices to certain members of this site. I do, however, dislike people who use selective information and sources, to support their own prejudiced views. We all have a lot to learn and those who think they don't, are just egotistical fools.

Gazzola01 Jun 2011 11:26 a.m. PST

Klingons Orbiting Uranus

'A man with a conviction is hard to change' – Correct, if you don't have enough source material or information to convince him to change or challenge his own confidence and sources.

'Tell him you disagree and he turns away' – usually on this site some people throw abuse at you rather than turning away. But perhaps some people turn away because the person doing the telling won't listen to counter-arguments?

'Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources' – So what should he do, just accept what you say because you say it? How silly! Of course you need to know the sources, although some people might not, on the fear it might make them question their own beliefs.

'Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point' – I imagine that might depend on how biased 'your' logic is and if 'your' logic is really logical at all, but just your biased opinion.

XV Brigada Inactive Member01 Jun 2011 12:49 p.m. PST

@Conard Sage.

Corelli Barnet is an Oxford trained, accomplished and influential historian of international repute who has been writing excellent and thought provoking history for more than 40 years. I haven't read a bad book by him.

As far as his book on Napoleon is concerned not "even handed" simply means he is critical of the man who tried to turn Europe into 'Bonaparte Inc'.

Bill

Connard Sage Inactive Member01 Jun 2011 12:55 p.m. PST

Are you having a snipe at me about Barnett or not? It's hard to tell.

Corelli Barnet is an Oxford trained, accomplished and influential historian of international repute who has been writing excellent and thought provoking history for more than 40 years. I haven't read a bad book by him.

Well that's kind of what I said.

As far as his book on Napoleon is concerned not "even handed" simply means he is critical of the man who tried to turn Europe into 'Bonaparte Inc'.


I was quoting Kevin, which is why that part's in a quote box. Do me the courtesy of reading the rest of my post. Does it disagree with your opinion of Barnett?

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5