To What Extend Did the Creation of Empire in 1804 Mark a Significant Change in Napoleon’s Rule of France?

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It is greatly debated whether or not Napoleon’s rule of France changed significantly after he became Emperor in 1804. This occurred when on 18th May 1804; a motion was approved by the Senate that ‘Napoleon Bonaparte, at present First Consul, be declared Emperor of the French and that the imperial dignity be declared hereditary in his family.’ In theory Napoleon’s regime had now become hereditary in its nature thus denouncing any remnants of revolutionary principles and reverting to a monarchy like the previous of Louis XVI and that Napoleon’s self-appointed rise to Emperor was a significant turning point in his regime. However it is also thought that the true nature of Napoleon’s regime just became more obvious after 1804 and that there is only a slight difference from the consulate as by 1804, Napoleon’s position at the helm of France was now secure. The main point for argument is whether or not the true nature of Napoleon’s regime really changed after 1804. Arguably the strongest viewpoint is that Napoleon’s regime post-1804 is more obvious and the façade Napoleon established to consolidate his power is dropped. The events of 1804 were not a pivotal turning point in the style of Napoleon’s rule but simply embodied his continued authoritarian rule over France. Throughout Napoleon’s rule he made significant and important changes in the area of Government. After the Coup d’état, Napoleon became First Consul (1800) this power was then increased when in 1802 Napoleon became Consul for life, thereby enabling him to choose his successor. This ability was a feature of hereditary rule yet it can be said that Napoleon’s appointment to Emperor in 1804 is the distinctive turning point in the establishment of his hereditary regime. From 1804 onwards, there was an increase in use of the Senate by Napoleon and this eventually led to the abolition of the Tribunate in 1808
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